Dr. Loy H. Witherspoon Jr.
1930 - 2017
McEwen Funeral Home & Cremation @ Myers Park
500 Providence Road
Charlotte, NC
Loy H. Witherspoon, of Charlotte and formerly of Winston Salem, died Sunday, January 15, 2017 at his home two days short of his 87th birthday.

Born January 17, 1930 in Catawba, NC, he was a son of the late Loy H. and Catherine Wilson Witherspoon.

In 1942, Loy and his youngest brother, B. W., went to live at the Children's Home in Winston Salem attending Reynolds High School with a major in Latin. Whereupon he enrolled in Duke University receiving the BA degree in 1951 and the Master of Divinity in 1954.

Following his Duke education, Loy went to teach Philosophy and Religion at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. There he met his life-long friend and companion, William Pfischer, MD.

He was called back to the United States for a pre-induction physical exam for potential service in the armed forces. Since he was a pacifist, Loy wrote to his Methodist bishop requesting that he be appoint, if possible, as an associate minister at the fall conference of the United Methodist Church.

Loy was appointed an Associate Minister to the Myers Park United Methodist church in Charlotte which he served for three years prior to going to Boston University for his Ph. D. in New Testament. He was awarded the degree in 1962.

Dr. Witherspoon taught Philosophy and Religion for three years at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD at which he also served as Director of Campus Religious Life.

In 1965, Dr. Bonnie Cone, President of Charlotte College (then beginning its first year as a four year institution), invited Loy to come to teach philosophy and religion. Even prior to his arriving on campus, Bonnie added to his responsibilities the role of Director of Religious Affairs as a result of the interest of six major religious bodies whose local leaders saw the great potential of the young school. These religious groups agreed to provide five thousand dollars for program purposes. Mr. Herman Blumenthal was interested in getting a Hillel program for Jewish students underway, but it was determined at that early date there were not enough Jewish students to make it worthwhile. Later Dr. Witherspoon was invited to assist Mr. Blumenthal and other Jewish leaders to begin a Wildacres Interfaith Institute held annually in early August. This institute was begun in 1983.

Funds were obtained from a foundation in New England to have three consultants to come to the campus to give advice with Philosophy. At the same time, new courses in world religions and upper level classes in religious studies were added. When Dr. James Shumaker was appointed chair of philosophy, religious studies became a department with Dr. Witherspoon as chair.

In addition to developing the religious life program, the departments of philosophy and religious studies, Dr. Witherspoon was heavily engaged with the work and concerns the entire university: decisions about whether there should be fraternities and sororities, helping with the installation of the first chancellor, D. W. Colvard for whom Dr. Witherspoon commissioned James Sutcliffe of Charlotte (then living and working in Europe) to compose an Academic Festival March. From that commission, many years later (during the chancellorship of Dr. James Woodward) came the music for the school's Alma Mater with words by Robert Rieke, retired Chair of History. This was the first of three musical commissions for UNCC, the manuscripts of which are in the J. Murrey Atkins Library.

Dr. Witherspoon also worked to get portraits of Miss Cone (the gift of the only senior class of Charlotte College for which Dr. Witherspoon was advisor) and the Chancellors and their wives. Dr. Witherspoon also encouraged the painting of portraits of persons for whom buildings were named. Often the artist was Charles Tucker, who left a number of his personal paintings to the university collection of art. In addition to the portraits, a significant number of Tucker paintings, a large number of paints were given to the university by Mr. Harry Dalton who also contributed a significant number of rare books for the library. A copy of the portrait of Miss Cone hangs in Chapel Hill at the request of Erskine Bowles when he was first name President of the University of North Carolina and found his office with only portraits of men.

As Dr. Witherspoon learned of the availability of facsimile copies of major manuscripts of the New Testament, he purchased these for the rare book collection of the library. Also, Dr. Witherspoon encouraged Miss Alice Tate to give to the library the bulk of her personal library, including an erotica collection as well as more than twenty "Buddhist" paintings.

Mr. Maurice Spizeman was encouraged to provide funds for an important Judaic collection. As Dr. Witherspoon learned of the availability or other important collections, he would offer to pay "over time" for the library to acquire them. One example of this was a collection of books on Pavlov which the library felt it could not afford, but which Dr. George Windholtz of the Psychology Department needed for his research to enable him to become a world authority on Pavlov. These were given in honor of Dr. Windholz and his wife, Alexandra.

Miss Cone, and the Chancellors who succeeded her, encouraged the faculty to become engaged with the community using their expertise and interests to enrich the relations between the campus and the community. Dr. Witherspoon served on the board of the Oratorio Singers until a profession of Music was appointed to the college. Long an avid fan of opera, Dr. Witherspoon joined the Charlotte Opera Board and, for ten years, was the secretary to the board. Invited to join the Red Cross Board, Dr. Witherspoon served on the Youth Committee for many years, after which he became Chairman of the Board of Directors.

When a call from Miss Eleanor Belk, Director of Adult Education of the Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Dr. Witherspoon responded, thinking he would lead a six-week discussion on "Religious Issues in Contemporary Literature", the response lasted for twenty years as teacher for the Seminar One Class, with brief breaks to work with other churches of the community on a "one shot" opportunity. In addition to teaching Sunday School, Dr. Witherspoon was often invited to teach on a topic of mutual import to a wide range of churches in the Charlotte and surrounding communities for their "family night" programs.

Chancellors have to spend many days during a term in Chapel Hill. This was especially true of Dr. Colvard. This led to a strong feeling in the faculty that the faculty had little time with the Chancellor and didn't know what was "going on". Dr. Witherspoon suggested to Dr. Colvard that faculty across the ranks from instructors to full professors from various departments (there were no colleges then) be invited for a simple soup and sandwich lunch which Dr. Witherspoon subsidized from the "chaplain's fund". At these sessions, any question could be asked. The Chancellor had to respond if only to say that the matter was still under discussion. Members who attended were urged to discuss the questions and responses in their respective departments. These sessions proved so useful that they continued for five years.

When a similar situation occurred during the early years of Chancellor Woodward's tenure, Dr. Witherspoon invited similar groups to his home once a week for wine and cheese so that faculty could get to know the Chancellor more personally and he them. These opportunities lasted about three years.

Over the years, Dr. Witherspoon served as elected leader of the faculty on three different occasions - twice during Chancellor Colvard's tenure and once during the tenure of Dr. Woodward.

When NCNB (now Bank of America) created the Teaching Award, Dr. Witherspoon was one of three who received the award the second year it was given.

Not only did Dr. Witherspoon teach four or more classes during his earliest years, but he also taught individual studies on such special topics as students desired, such as, the Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the works of Sinclair Lewis, to mention a few.

Under Dr. James Tabor's leadership. Dr. Witherspoon strongly encouraged the Religious Studies Department's acquiring and developing an archaeological dig site in Jerusalem. A part of that encouragement included giving several $500 scholarships over the early years. In addition, he sought financial support for the "dig" from Charlotte citizens.

When Dr. Cone approved fraternities and sororities by a committee on which Dr. Witherspoon served, Loy was invited to be the advisor of Lambda Chi Alpha, a position he held until his retirement. A strong fraternity movement developed and was the main factor in UNCC receiving nation attention for its intramural student program. Dr. Witherspoon, after his retirement from active teaching, was also designated as an honorary member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. Members of these two fraternities are invited to be "honorary pall bearers" for the funeral.

In the fall of 2010, the library hired someone to interview Dr. Witherspoon, especially about the early decades since he had worked so closely with Dr. Cone, Dr. Colvard, and Dr. Woodward. These interviews were recorded for posterity and are available in the library.

A service of worship in gratitude for the life of Dr. Witherspoon will be held at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, January 19th at Myers Park United Methodist Church, 1501 Queens Road, officiated by the Reverend Dr. James Howell, Senior Pastor. Those present are invited to attend a reception in the church's Jubilee Hall immediately following the service. Dr. Witherspoon will be interred in a private ceremony alongside his parents in the Witherspoon family plot in the cemetery of Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Claremont, NC.

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations be made to Myers Park United Methodist Church (www.myersparkumc.org/give), The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (https://giving.uncc.edu), or the Children's Home of Winston Salem (www.tchome.org).

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13.

Condolences may be offered at www.HarryandBryantFuneralHome.com.
Published by Charlotte Observer on Jan. 17, 2017.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
Myers Park United Methodist Church
1501 Queens Road, NC
Funeral services provided by:
McEwen Funeral Home & Cremation @ Myers Park
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27 Entries
I took both Old and New Testament courses at UNCC from Dr. Witherspoon in 1969 and 1970. His perspective changed how I read the Bible from that time forward. His relationship with Miss Bonnie was so dear. His service to her dear university was met with admiration and love from all the students who had the privilege to know him. My heart is soothed by the knowledge he is resting in the arms of his Savior.
Fran Craig Sitton
July 9, 2017
A special man who did great work!
Diana Brown
February 13, 2017
Sending my love and sympathy.
Sally Hyde Gist
Sally Gist
February 6, 2017
During my 20 years on campus, I often heard him say, "The only thing we truly keep is what we give away." Loy is the only person I have ever known who lived so completely by this tenet. We are better persons for having known him.
Ronnie (Moon) Stone
February 4, 2017
Dr. Witherspoon was a colleague, a friend and a constant inspiration for me. His grace, charm, sensitivity, wisdom and infectious smile inspired and comforted me at many of the most pivotal moments of my life. I first met Loy with Ms Bonnie, shortly after arriving for a new position at UNC Charlotte in 1977. From that moment forward, his friendship touched every aspect of my life. He served as the minister at my wedding, was among the first to congratulate me after the birth of both of my children, and always greeted me with a beautiful smile as we passed on campus. He regularly taught classes in the Honors College and lead informal student meetings with me in the evenings in Witherspoon Hall. The guidance he provided to so many young students inspired and shaped countless lives. He will always serve as my model for how to live a good, virtuous and meaningful life. We miss you Loy.
Al Maisto and family
January 23, 2017
What a wonderful man and such a profound inspiration for those who knew him.
Jackie Harms
January 19, 2017
I was not his student, his colleague, or his family. Yet, Loy taught me, labored with me, and called me his sister. Without question, the kindest man I have ever known, he was also a warrior and defender. He laughed at my jokes.. 'Oh, Debbie...", he would say. Thank you Loy, for being part of my life, and being a witness to God's love.
Deborah Edge
January 18, 2017
I knew Loy for many years, first growing up in Winston-Salem, at The Methodist Children's Home, and then I had the privilege of getting to know both him and his brother, Beverly, for several years after we all had left The Home. I have known both of these brothers to be such gentlemen. Loy was truly a very generous and gracious person; I never heard him speak bad about anyone. I'm sure there are hundreds of people, like me, who will miss this wonderful man, as I am sure he touched everyone he met.
Ruby Burnett Abbott and Richard.
January 19, 2017
Ruby Burnett Abbott
January 18, 2017
What engaging discussions Loy and I had for many years at many venues, most frequently at The Horace Williams Philosopher's Club.
I will miss him and cherish those conversations.
Ed Pickett
January 18, 2017
I sat in the pew at Myers Park Methodist Church, as a teenage, , while Loy was the associate minister there. He was so handsome and kind and POWERFUL as a speaker. I was in awe and gratitude that he was in the pulpit. He touched me like no other minister ever had. I was so depressed when he left our church. He was never replaced with an equal. He was the closest man to speak for Jesus that I ever met. Terry S Taylor Huntersville, NC
January 18, 2017
Doc was a great man who touched the lives of many. Thank you for the many contributions. You will be missed.
John Howard
January 17, 2017
Sometime in the late 60s or early 70s, on a dark, winter evening I was leaving work at UNCC in my brand new yellow Austin Healy Sprite. The car ahead of me at the stoplight began to back up and wasn't able to see even the headlights of my tiny beloved car. Crash! I stormed out into the dark and rainy night using words one must not use on a regular basis, but then soon discovered I was cursing Loy Witherspoon, I didn't really know him and he didn't know me, but he apologized deeply and invited me to his home, just across the street, to work things out. Of course I was horrified at how. I shouted at him, but he was kind, gentle, understanding and eventually my new little yellow sports car was as good as new. About 10 years later he stood in front of the fireplace in my modest little house and married my husband and I, looking handsomely over,his glasses as he smiled. Who could not love that man....
Beth, Sohn
January 17, 2017
Loy is a legend at Myers Park UMC and at UNCC. It was a joy to know him and be associated with him in several events through the years. May God's greatest comfort be with all his friends.
Melvin & Anita McIntosh
January 17, 2017
Dr. Witherspoon inspired many students throughout his exemplary career! He was amazing, gentle, thoughtful, kind, and always available to the students. He, without a doubt, was one of the reasons UNC Charlotte enjoys great success today. Many times he worked quietly behind the scenes creating the wind beneath Miss Cone's wings.
In August of 1972, he united my wife and I in holy matrimony . As the founding president of the Chi Phi Fraternity, I often called on him for advice which he always gave gladly. As a result, he
became a life long friend and my fraternity brother; although he always reminded me first and foremost, he was a Lambda Chi. His contribution to the University and countless students will continue to live on forever!!!!

Ron and Marcia Foster
January 17, 2017
Dr. Witherspoon was a wonderful teacher and a tireless supporter of the university, but in addition to that, he was a kind, caring man. He was a dear friend to my mother-in-law during the years that she worked for him, and even kept in touch with her for years after she retired. He made such a positive impression on so many, and I will always remember him. May he rest in peace.
Sandy Aldridge
January 17, 2017
Loy Witherspoon was a true 'gentleman and scholar.' He is woven into the fabric of UNC Charlotte.
George Grubbs
January 17, 2017
Loy Witherspoon was the dearest of souls. He meant so much to my family and especially my Dad. I've known him since I was 5 or 6 and every memory is a good one. He gave the eulogy at my Dad's Memorial Service and am forever grateful for his words and support. There was only one Loy Witherspoon - and he was beyond exceptional. Prayers for Dr Pfischner and all of Dr. Witherspoon's family and friends.
Willa Hackney
January 17, 2017
Loy was my professor, advisor and friend. Mild, affable, tenacious, generous, flexible, modest, graceful, witty, erudite -- but above all else, this was a Man. In slightly obsolete terms, I'd carve him this epitaph: I rode with him, I knowed him, I got no complaints.
Rod Smith (Rockbridge Co, VA)
Rod Smith
January 17, 2017
I had the honor of having Dr. Witherspoon as a professor, and learned SO much from him: from his scholarly lectures; from our lively classroom discussions; from his thoughtful comments on my submitted papers.

But mostly I learned from him by the very way that he conducted himself. I took notice of his cheerfulness and attentiveness to those around him. I saw how through his actions he consistently showed a level of grace and kindness that is a far more powerful witness to the world than any words alone can ever be.

Thank you, Dr. Witherspoon, for how you influenced my life for the better. May you rest in peace.
Steve Hagwood
January 17, 2017
My wife, MaryPat, and I were married 7/21/1990 at St. Mary's chapel with Dr. Witherspoon's assistance. We still remember his premarital counseling and advice. Still going strong.
Kerry Cummings
January 17, 2017
Dr. Witherspoon was an amazing man. I'm honored to have known him and to call him brother.
Zachary Lunsford
January 17, 2017
It was my joy to work with Dr. Witherspoon for over 10 years as Office Manager of the Religious Studies Department. I had the honor and privilege of hearing Dr. Witherspoon's personal accounts of how the UNC Charlotte he loved so dearly grew into the university it is today. Dr Witherspoon was the quintessential gentleman, educated, eloquent and kind.
Joye Palmer
January 17, 2017
Even when I was there in the early 70's, this guy was a legend on campus. One of the most highly respected professors/administrators/leaders UNC Charlotte has ever known. Side by side with Ms. Bonnie, he helped build the university and laid the foundations for what it is today. Thank you Loy.
Tom Michael
January 17, 2017
Guess I thought he would be in our presence forever. What a great teacher and role model for us all. I'm certain the Kingdom of Heaven is open for Dr. Witherspoon. We will miss him.
Mike and Sharon Mayberry
Mike Mayberry
January 16, 2017
Loy was always a tremendous support and friend of mine while at UNCC. I extend condolences to Dr Pfischner on this sad loss and to Loy's entire family. May you have no more sorrows and be comforted.
Bruce Gartner
January 16, 2017
Though it was for a short time it was an honor to care for both of you. I think of you often. My condolences to Dr. Pfischner.

With love and admiration for both of you,
Donna Muse
January 16, 2017
Even though it was for a short time it was an honor to care for both of you. My condolences to Dr. Pfischner.

With great love and admiration for you both,
Donna Muse
Donna Muse
January 16, 2017
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