LUMBERTON — The name of a prominent and well-loved Lumberton resident will live on at Robeson Community College, having been attached to a running track during a ceremony on Monday.
More than 50 people, including city officials and members of the late Bill Williford’s family, attended the dedication of the four-lane, quarter-mile running.
According to Rebekah Lowry, director of the Robeson Community College Foundation, the running track, which is located by the Basic Law Enforcement Training building, is now the Robeson County Farm Bureau Bill Williford Track.
“Farm Bureau was huge and very integral,” Lowry said. “They are the reason we have the track. Mr. Bill Williford … was a part of Farm Bureau and played a huge role in making sure that it was done correctly.”
During the ceremony, Williford was remembered by friends and family as a person who loved the Lumberton community. Lowry said the running track was constructed after a spike in student enrolment for the Basic Law Enforcement Training program, and is used by its students for training.
Lowry said the construction of the track began in 2009, with Farm Bureau contributing $38,000.
“It was constructed fairly quickly,” she said. “The BLET program and all the students benefit from it but this is the first time its been recognized as the Farm Bureau track.”
Joe Butler, president of the RCC Foundation, said the amenity benefits students who did not have access to an outdoor facility for exercise.
“This will provide a safe, level surface for our law enforcement training cadets throughout their training,” Butler said.
According to Wayne Coates, director of the Basic Law Enforcement Training program, the program has used the running track as a site for physical assessments.
“It is a strong program and we anticipate that it will grow,” Coates said.
City Manager Wayne Horne said most law enforcement officials in Robeson County have gone through the Basic Law Enforcement Training program at RCC.
“Most of the small towns here draw their officers from this program,” Horne said. “This program means a lot to us.”
John Williford, Williford’s nephew from Rocky Mount, attended the ceremony with his wife, Velda.
“It was an impressive ceremony,” Williford said. “I’m very glad to be a part of it.”
Velda Williford said she was heartened by the support the Robeson County community has shown the family.
“I’m just immensely touched that everyone here came to love him the way we do,” she said. “To be here today and feel it, it’s very sincere and genuine.”
Bill Williford died at the age of 89 on Dec. 11, 2012. He had served as Robeson County Extension chairman for 18 years and was an active member of the Robeson County Farm Bureau and the Lumberton Rotary Club.
He is survived by his wife, Lorena Strickland Williford. A member of the family spoke on her behalf.