The book was the culmination of many years of research, and was a solo effort by the author, Wade C. Gilley, Jr. From roots in rural Surry County, NC, in the northwestern part of the state, I grew up in a close-knit family with a deep appreciation for family and friends. As a child, we actually knew all of our cousins and spent time with each on both sides of the family. I could write another book just on the memories from my childhood and family.
Close proximity made it possible to do extensive research in all the counties surrounding Henry County, in both Virginia and North Carolina. On one particular occasion, an entire week’s vacation was spent transcribing Gilley records in Rockingham County, NC alone.
In my hometown of Pilot Mountain, NC, I attended East Surry High School and took college parallel courses with interests in math, computers, and accounting. At one point, I wanted to become an architect, but career uncertainty led me to Surry Community College. During my time at SCC, I was able to make a clear decision about a career in business and graduated with honors with an Associate of Arts degree before transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At Carolina’s highly ranked Kenan-Flagler School of Business, I continued my studies with advanced accounting classes, but my true interest was in marketing, advertising, and business law. I graduated in May of 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, and returned home to help with the family business.
During the summers of my youth, I would help out at our family auto parts business. After graduating from college in May 1986, I returned to my roots to learn the family business, watch it prosper and grow, and to inherit a quarter share. For sixteen years, I acted primarily as the Purchasing Agent, but performed numerous tasks in the complete business cycle, as is normal for a small business. During the late 80’s and early 90’s, I also worked part-time as a sports writer for two local newspapers.
With growing competition and worsening economic conditions that greatly affected the future of the business, I had to make the hardest decision of my life by pursuing another career path. From there, I was able to secure an office manager position with the City of Winston-Salem in its Utilities Division in August of 2002. Three years later, I was promoted to Senior Financial Clerk in Finance where I served for almost a year before being recruited by the Utilities Admin staff as a Financial Analyst in March 2007. It is a new and evolving position that involves multiple budgeting analysis projects serving as liaison between 12 Utilities locations and different City departments.
One of my passions is sports. Even though I played golf in high school and intramural basketball in college, it wasn’t until afterwards that a greater interest was taken in it. After college, I played in a variety of leagues in the Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain, and Winston-Salem areas, including basketball, volleyball, and softball. My one sole regret in life is not taking an earlier interest in sports! At 6'3", it would have been interesting to see what happened had I played football and basketball in high school.
One side note here: while at my dorm in college, I was able to meet Michael Jordan and a few other notable basketball players. My family started a tradition of getting their autographs on one dollar bills. Today, I enjoy watching collegiate football, basketball, and baseball. Aside from the Tar Heels, I also root for Oklahoma, Southern Cal, and anyone playing Duke. Professionally, my favs in football are the Carolina Panthers (of course), Atlanta Falcons, and Seattle Seahawks; and in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals.
My most memorable sporting event was a trip to the NCAA Final Four in Seattle, Washington in 1994, to support the Tar Heels. Rounding out the field was Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and eventual champion UCLA. During that 6-day span, it rained only once (on the way to a Trailblazer game in Portland), and I was able to meet and talk with renown ESPN commentator Dick Vitale. Today, I am just as active with daily cardio exercise and lifting weights. On occasion, I enjoy hiking, cycling, walking, snow skiing, and swimming.
This part of my life was inherited from mom’s side of the family, since she grew up playing and singing in various gospel groups. I learned to play the piano at a very early age and took lessons until graduating from high school. While in elementary school, I learned to play the trombone and continued playing in marching and pep bands during high school and college. While at Carolina, the band traveled to games all over the United States in support of the university’s sports teams. One summer during my late teens, I took private lessons to play the trumpet.
Desiring to take my talents to a new level, I participated in music theory classes (early 90’s) to learn to play by ear. It was a difficult challenge, but worth every ounce of work to get my eyes off the page. Today, I enjoy playing for various occasions including weddings, receptions, and church services. Having a well-rounded appreciation for it, I’m constantly checking out new music regardless of genre. You will find me listening to just about anything from A to Z including 70’s, 80’s, classical, new age, country, R&B, gospel, hip-hop, and classic rock.