1000 x 90

Boone Business Leader, Real Estate Developer Kenneth Wilcox Dies Saturday, Jan. 7

The death of Kenneth Wilcox leaves a huge void in local
business/development community.

By Sherrie Norris

The unexpected death of Kenneth Wilcox on Saturday, Jan. 7, leaves a huge void in the High Country business community and especially his hometown of Boone. If there is one name associated with community development, leadership and local real estate in Watauga County, it has been that of Wilcox.

Described as an astute entrepreneur, mentor and visionary, in addition to a valued community servant, Wilcox spent the majority of his life serving others, whether on the business front or behind the scenes as an active board member to numerous organizations and agencies.

It was announced by Hampton Funeral Services of Boone that Charles “Kenneth” Wilcox passed away in Boone just days shy of his 85th birthday, surrounded by his loving family members.

Born in Boone on January 28 1937, the son of  Charles Cole Wilcox and Julia Hollars Wilcox, he developed a love for learning and reading at an early age, a trait that continued throughout his life.

Wilcox graduated from Appalachian State University in 1959 and soon thereafter joined the family botanical business, Wilcox Drug Company, and seasonal Christmas greenery company, Appalachian Evergreens. Those who knew him best agree that he was dedicated to his work, enjoyed what he did, and highly valued each and every relationship he developed through multiple business ventures.

Wilcox was also “genuinely passionate” his family shared, about improving the quality of life for the people of Watauga County “and devoted a majority of his free time to tackling that challenge.”

His community service history is extensive and long. He served two terms on the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, two terms on the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees during which he also served as chair. He also served on the ASU Foundation Board of Trustees.

His longest service has been to the Watauga Hospital, Watauga Medical Center and the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System board of directors. He served on these boards for more than 50 years and has been chair of the board on many different occasions. He played a major role in the formation of ARHS, which resulted in the merger of Cannon Hospital and Blowing Rock Hospital.

Recognized often, Wilcox’s family said he humbly appreciated praise for his efforts, but never expected it. His achievements and success were important to him, but his family knew they were always his top priority.  “When time allowed, he enjoyed and encouraged us to gather in fellowship,” they shared. “He enjoyed traveling with close friends and making new ones abroad. He respected all, welcomed friends as family, and wanted to make the world a better place.”

In September, 2013, in recognition of his leadership and support of healthcare in the High Country, Wilcox became the fourth recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award given by Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation. He was honored for his instrumental support in the establishment of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and multiple healthcare services, including Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center, the Cardiology Center and Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center.

At the awards presentation, Richard Sparks, President and CEO of ARHS at the time, said “Many of the things you see today would not be here without the leadership of Kenneth Wilcox. Kenneth has always been there to listen and help me understand the best way to move forward towards success.”

In Aug 19, 2019, Wilcox received the Boone Sunrise Rotary Community Service Award, which recognizes a lifelong history of community service. He was selected for his history of businesses that benefitted the community and his service on many public service boards.

He was actively involved and served on the board of three financial institutions that started in Boone: First National Bank of Boone, (then Bank of America); High Country Bank, which is now First National Bank. He was a partner in a number of hotels, restaurants, apartment complexes and other projects in town.

He believed in investing locally to provide jobs for local people. He also helped bring the Boone Golf Course into reality.

As a lifetime member of the First Baptist Church of Boone, Wilcox was saved and baptized as a teenager. He was a follower of Jesus Christ and took his responsibility as his family’s spiritual leader seriously.  He found camaraderie and companionship in multiple Sunday school classes throughout his life, and he loved and appreciated the members of each one.

Wilcox was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Gerry Brown Wilcox, his parents, his brother Gary “Butch” Wilcox, his sister Pat Wilcox Cook, and his son-in-law, Dwayne Triplett.

He is survived by three children: daughter Kim Wilcox Davis (Glenn), son Chris Wilcox (Melanie), and daughter Laura Wilcox Pace (David); seven grandchildren: Seth Triplett (Kelly), Shane Triplett (Keana), Hannah T. Sprinkmann (Erik), Charlie Wilcox (Skylar), Berkley Wilcox, Cole Pace, and Oren Pace; six great-grandchildren: Kasen Triplett, Chance Triplett, Kenzlie Triplett, Everett Sprinkmann, Julia Sprinkmann, and Naomi Wilcox; and special friends Lucille Teague, Anita Mckinney, Morgan Smith, and Nick Welsh.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced by Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service.

Online condolences may be sent to the Wilcox family at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com