HAMLET — Under dreary skies and steady rain, family members gathered Tuesday to remember Bill Bledsoe, who died early Sunday in a head-on crash that claimed two lives.
Bledsoe’s wife of 58 years, Helen, said the Hamlet native never graduated high school, leaving in his sophomore year.
She said Bledsoe joined the U.S. Army and served “two terms.” After leaving the Army, she said he went straight into construction.
The couple married May 6, 1956, and raised three children together.
Helen Bledsoe said they spent 25 years in Columbia, South Carolina, where her husband started Bill’s Backhoe Service.
When they moved back to Hamlet in the mid-1980s, she said, he also moved the company.
“Ain’t no telling how many ditches he’s dug over the years,” said Perry Knight, the widow’s brother.
Knight said Bledsoe did a lot of work for the city of Hamlet and Richmond County as well as work for individuals.
“A lot of jobs that the city or county wouldn’t do, he’d do,” he said, referring to work done in swampy areas.
Bledsoe said her late husband retired the company about a year ago, but he still did little odd jobs for people.
She said he was the type of person who just couldn’t stop.
State troopers say Bledsoe, 77, was driving his 2007 Chevrolet pickup truck westbound in the eastbound lane of U.S. 74 when he hit an oncoming 2008 Honda Civic around 3 a.m. Sunday.
Bledsoe and the car’s passenger, 26-year-old Caitlyn Taylor Patton from Charlotte, were both killed in the crash. The driver of the car was injured and taken to a hospital.
The wreck happened near the Richmond-Scotland county line about 3.8 miles east of the Hamlet city limits.
Trooper M.A. Lindsey said the North Carolina Highway Patrol was still investigating the crash Tuesday night.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-997-3111, ext. 16.