Chapel Hill town council member Bill Thorpe died this past weekend.
Here’s the official statement from the town:
Town of Chapel Hill flags are at half-staff in memory of long-time Councilmember Bill Thorpe, who passed away at his home Saturday, September 27, 2008.
Councilmember Thorpe, a resident of Chapel Hill for nearly 40 years, served on the Council for a total of 11 years. He first served on the Council from 1977 to 1981, served another term from 1983 to 1987, and returned to the Council on Dec. 5, 2005, nearly three decades after he was elected the first time. He served as Mayor pro-tem from 1985 to 1987.
In 1984, Councilmember Thorpe initiated legislation to celebrate as an official Town holiday the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which marked Chapel Hill as the first in the state and one of the first municipalities in the nation to do so. Councilmember Thorpe also set into motion the effort to rename Airport Road to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in May 2005. Another of his initiatives was the Town of Chapel Hill Internship Program, established in 2006 for university undergraduates. For his leadership in promoting civil rights in the community, Fayetteville State University honored Councilmember Thorpe with its 2006 Humanitarian Award.
Councilmember Thorpe attended Fayetteville State University and graduated from the National Scouting Executive Institute. He is the former director of apprenticeship and on-the-job training for the North Carolina Department of Labor. In addition, he served as a political consultant for the successful campaign of State Court of Appeals Judges Wanda Bryant and Linda McGee.
Councilmember Thorpe was active in the National Black Caucus of Elected Officials and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the NAACP. He was also a member of numerous Town and county committees, including the Chapel Hill Museum, Firefighters’ Relief Fund, Council Committee on Orange Water and Sewer Authority, Greenways Commission liaison, Orange County Land Trust Affordable Housing Maintenance Task Force and Personnel Appeals Committee liaison.
â€œBill Thorpe served our community for more than thirty years,â€ said Mayor Kevin Foy. â€œHis perspective on our recent history, and his insistence on remembering where we have been as a guide to where we should go, has been invaluable to Chapel Hill. We will miss him as a colleague and as a friend. On behalf of all of Chapel Hill, I offer our sincere sorrow and extend our deepest sympathy to Billâ€™s wife, Jean; his son, William; and his daughter, Beverly.â€
A public viewing will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, at University Baptist Church and services will be held at 1 p.m.