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Mr. Robert James Will, 84, of Sanford, died peacefully in his home surrounded by his family on September 28, 2023, after a long battle with leukemia.
Robert was born on February 28, 1939, to Robert James Will Sr. and Ruth Gooden Will in Dover, Delaware. He attended Caesar Rodney High School where he was captain of the varsity football team and subsequently studied at the University of Delaware where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting.
After graduating from college, he landed his first job as Assistant Manager at Woolworth’s in Delaware. He then worked for General Foods as an accountant with a focus on international goods and was soon transferred to work at their headquarters in White Plains, New York. In 1964, he met Alice Sipple, and they wed in 1965 and had 2 children, Robert James Will III and Reed Jeffrey Will. Alice passed away in 1980 from a tragic accident.
In 1971, Robert moved to North Carolina where he worked for Coty as a production planning and manufacturing coordinator. He worked for Coty for 28 years and met many of his closest lifelong friends there. He greatly enjoyed the travel opportunities his position provided with weekly trips to Coty headquarters in New York City. He met Patricia Murphy in 1981, and they wed in 1982. In his marriage to Patricia, he gained a daughter, Jamie Nichole. He and Patricia had one son together, Patrick Alex Will, in 1983. Robert and Patricia were married for 41 years.
Robert was Second Lieutenant in the National Guard and served for 8 years. He was an active Kiwanis club member. He served as Vice President on the board at the Lee County Enrichment Center and volunteered his time driving patients battling cancer to their appointments at the UNC Cancer Hospital through the Highway to Healing program. He was an artist and loved painting. After retirement, he attended art classes at the Central Carolina Community College and shared his love of painting with his grandchildren. Anyone who knew Robert knew that he loved being around people and truly valued direct in person conversation. He always took time to get to know people on a personal, individual level. For this, he was beloved by many.
Family meant more to Robert than anything else in the world, and he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He was proud of all of his children. He and Patricia loved organizing family vacations and hosting family gatherings, especially during the holidays. He loved his grandchildren and made it a priority to be actively involved in their lives. In his later years, when he wasn’t at home, he could be found at the ice hockey rink on a Saturday night watching his grandson play hockey, at a dance recital with his granddaughter, or at a favorite restaurant with friends and family. He was a mentor, a teacher, and confidant. He loved to laugh and share stories, and he always had a good joke up his sleeve. He was there for all of us, and we cannot put into words how greatly he will be missed.
Robert is preceded in death by his parents, Robert James Will Sr., and Ruth Gooden Will, and former wife, Alice Sipple Will. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Murphy Will of Sanford; his brother and sister-in-law Billy and Brenda Will of Wyoming, Delaware; his son and wife, Robert James Will III and Susan Pittman Will of Wilson; his son Reed Jeffrey Will of Raleigh, his daughter and husband, Jamie Nichole and Thomas M. Deis of Hillsborough; his son and wife, Patrick Alex and Kristyn D. Will of New Hill; his granddaughter and husband, Alice Ivy and Mason A. Simpson of Charlotte; his grandchildren Tess E. Will of Wilmington, James B. Sheppard, Georgia K. Will of Smithfield; William, Olivia, and Luke Deis of Hillsborough; and Koen Robert Will and Kaiya Bailey of New Hill.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 14, 2023 at Jonesboro Presbyterian Church in Sanford, North Carolina. The visitation will be from 1pm-3pm with service to follow at 3pm. In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to be made to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839.