Whitey's Obituary From His Family

"Whitey" was ushered into heaven on September 17, 2010 by his Lord and Savior, with Polly there to embrace him. After 72 years of marriage, Polly was called to heaven, and the 2-year wait to join her again has been long. He'd kept his eye on her from the second grade and there is a cigar box full of worn, sweet and sappy love letters to bear witness to that precious love.

Perhaps there's a certain protocol for entering heaven, but if your initiation to all things heavenly is customized, then The Briarhoppers were probably set up on a stage next to St. Peter's Gate, with Hogan handing Whitey his tuned guitar, anxiously ready to pick a little now that the band is all back together. Wouldn't it be interesting to see Jesus tapping to the music and perhaps even announce that heaven hold a bluegrass music celebration day? These were all Godly men who loved the Lord and His music.

He and Polly were devoted members of Whiting Avenue Baptist church for over 50 years. He sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, was a deacon and even mowed the property when he saw it was needed. After they retired to Wilora Lake Lodge, they enjoyed services at Plaza Baptist, but in the last few years, as his health declined, Jeff Andler's ministry and music was tremendously comforting. The staff at Wilora played a vital role in "Mr. Roy's" days without Polly; such gracious love.
Whitey was blessed to have a life many have marveled at through the years; a full life, to be sure. Growing up in the depression, the baby of 13, he learned to play the guitar to pass the time with his brother John. In the early 30's he was fortunate enough to work in the mills and relax on the porch in the evenings "pickin" with friends. He was "discovered" with his best friend, Hogan, while playing at a small radio station for a few extra dollars in Gastonia. He and Hogan were asked by WBT to become a part of the evening family listening time where they joined up with The Briarhoppers and entertained right before The Long Ranger show. Since WBT had the strongest signal up and down the east coast, their notoriety grew. Through the years, his quick wit and gregarious personality easily allowed Whitey to become the "voice" of a time gone by, and gave people the opportunity to reminisce about the days when they gathered around the radio or visited the Wilder Building in downtown Charlotte to see a live radio show.

The Grants and Hogans later built homes side by side and were lifelong friends, raising their children, singing and traveling together. Writers and historians have chronicled the 30's and 40's as to how the fabric of the Carolinas was woven into what it is today; Whitey was always helpful in their quest for authenticity. Radio days, books about the south, newspaper articles, parades, meeting and playing with other country music celebrities, radio and tv interviews, traveling Europe, show dates and guest appearances – all special and many historical. Whitey could compose any of these into a lively tale as he wrapped the memory around his own colorful stories that drew you in and made you actually experience the event.

His daughters, Becky Hunter of Mooresville and Wanda Shaw Harris of Wilmington, now have their father and mother, and their sister Yvonne Ruth waiting for them in heaven. The grand and great grand children all know they have witnessed what many have only heard of…a marriage of love and commitment, in sickness and in health, with all the joys and bumps in the road melding into "Love eternal".
The family will receive friends from 12:30-1:30pm Sunday, September 19 at Wilson Funeral & Cremation Service, 5301 Albemarle Road. His service will follow at 2:00pm in the funeral home chapel with the Rev. Jeff Andler officiating. Interment will follow in Sharon Memorial Park.
Memorials may be made to his dear Bearwallow Mountain Baptist Church, 404 Konatoga circle, Gerton, NC 28710 or Hospice & Pallative Care Charlotte Region, 1420 E. 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204.
Online condolences may be made at www.wilsonfuneralservices.com.

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The Legendary Briarhoppers!

In 1934, a potential advertiser called WBT's Charles Crutchfield to ask if the station had a hillbilly band to help advertise its products. Telling a fib, Crutch said "Yes," which led to the birth of the Briarhoppers. The name comes from WBT announcer Bill Bivens who, during a hunting trip with Crutch, was startled by a rabbit jumping out of a thicket, and Bill yelled, "Look at that briarhopper!" At that moment, Crutch found the name for his hillbilly band.

The original band members were Johnny McAllister, Big Bill Davis, Don White, Thorpe Westerfield, Clarence Etters, and Jane Bartlett. The last original 1934 Briarhopper, Don White, died in 2003. Billie Burton Daniel, who joined the group in 1936, is happy and well in Wilmington, NC. Since that time, The Briarhoppers' fans are/were Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs (who filled in on banjo a few times), Curly Seckler, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and many other entertainment stars.

In keeping with the tradition, the band kept going through the years by adding new musicians to those who left the station or who died. Today, Alana Flowers and Tom Warlick head the band with their stage show including the old Briarhopper songs, new songs, and the original scripted commercials of Peruna, Kolor-Bak, Zymole Trokeys, and Radio Girl Perfume! Enjoy this site and learn about the Briarhoppers' storied past and the bright future that is ahead. Don't turn that dial...Hit's Briarhopper Time!