Thornton Gorham

July 29, 1934 ~ February 24, 2022 (age 87)


Mr. Thornton “Bill” Gorham Jr. of Washington, N.C. entered into eternal rest on February 24, 2022, in Milwaukee, WI.

Bill, after moving to Washington, NC, in 1949, attended P.S. Jones School and delivered groceries on his bike after school to earn money.

At a young age, with great work ethic in the 1950s, he worked part-time as a driver and helper at Randolph Funeral Home and as a pipe fitter/driver/laborer with J.S. Hill Construction and became a member of the Washington Elks during this time.

Bill joined Spring Garden Missionary Baptist Church in 1952 and during his active time there, he served on the Usher Board (Vice President/Member for 30 years); Trustee Board (40 years, Chair 1986-2003); Male Choir (Vice President 12 years) and Church Real Estate Manager.

During the 1960s, he worked as a mechanic for Elliott Chevrolet which later became Lee Chevrolet/Pontiac.  In 1962, Bill was the first Black person from Beaufort County to attend and graduate from the General Motors Training Center.  Along with this training and the many specialty trainings he attended, he was a “Master Mechanic” (something he proudly let you know).

In 1975, Bill started one of the few black-owned establishments in the area, Gorham Automotive, where he enjoyed one of his passions, working on vehicles, until his retirement in 1997.  During this time, he was also involved with the Noir Motor Club (Treasurer) and the King Cobra Motorcycle Club (Chairman of the Board) which allowed him to enjoy another passion, motorcycles (Honda Goldwing only).  He was also a ranking member of Prince Hall Hiram Lodge Masons.

Being visually impaired did not stop Bill from organizing or volunteering or traveling or using the computer or trying to get information on new technology. 

During his retirement and in between traveling (whether by plane, train, bus or bicycle), he was active:  Washington Community Care Coalition (Founder & President) which donated food to many families during the holiday season; Pecan Grove Community Watch (Founder & Chairman) assisting with the quality of life in the neighborhood; the Beaufort County Association for Blind (Volunteer & Board of Directors Member) proving having a disability does not hinder life’s quality; Washington Police Advisory Board; Beebe Memorial Park (Committee Member); NAACP; The Next Step (Co-founder) collaborating with City Departments for a better living environment; Licensed Insurance Agent (Wilcox Funeral Home); ADT Security System Sales Representative, to name a few of the entities that were privileged to know Bill.


Bill Gorham: Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Uncle, Cousin, Partner and Friend!

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Thornton Gorham, please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
March 5, 2022

2:00 PM
Kingdom Life Community Church
3681 US HWY 17 N
Washington, NC 27889

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