William (Bill) Remmes

Remmes—William (Bill) Remmes, 74, on March 9, 2020, in Sumter, S.C. Bill was born on July 31, 1945, in Denison, Iowa, the third child of Hank Remmes and Emma Laubscher Remmes. A country boy at heart who longed for a John Deere tractor, he crisscrossed the world from Africa with the Peace Corps to Central America with a nonprofit organization focused on small business development—neither of which provided him with his tractor. Bill first began to attend Quaker meetings while in Africa.

In 1978, Bill interviewed with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Rural Practice Project. He accepted a position as administrator of the Roanoke-Amaranth Rural Health Group in Jackson, N.C., making good on his promise to his wife, Brenda, to move their young family back to her home in the South. They became members of Rich Square Meeting in the small town of Woodland, N.C.

During Bill’s 20-year tenure, the practice grew from one doctor and one office to six medical offices and eleven doctors, with a total staff of 250. The practice became the second largest employer in the county. In addition, a nursing home, senior center, and senior apartments were built. In total, Bill was instrumental in securing grants for $23 million in Northampton and Halifax Counties.

Bill served on the Woodland Town Board and worked with the other members to find funding for the Woodland-Olney Retirement and Recreational Facilities, which converted a closed school building into an active part of the community.

In 1985, Bill received the National Shriver Award presented by the Council of Return Peace Corps Volunteers for contributing to local communities in the spirit of the Peace Corps.

In 1999, Bill accepted a position as administrator of Carolina Medical Practice in Florence, S.C., working with 22 specialists and a total staff of 120. In 2019, he was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Association of South Carolina Oncology Managers.

Bill served as clerk for the Southeastern Region of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and for the National Board of AFSC.

To his sheer delight, Bill finally got his tractor! Although he never planted a crop, he mowed a good deal of grass and hauled lots of downed trees out of the driveway. A week before his death he left a whopping bill for the repair of his tractor. He obviously planned to ride again.

Bill had an exceptional capacity to love and embrace everyone he met. He firmly believed that goals could never be accomplished without the commitment of dozens of helping hands and that others deserved the bulk of the credit. He was especially proud of his recent work with Goodwill Cultural Center, east of Mayesville, S.C., and the restoration of the old Goodwill School, which still stands today as one of the first schools for African American children in the South.

Surely no Grandpa has bragged more about his children and grandchildren than Bill. Their weekly phone calls were the highlight of his life. Teaching his grandchildren to play and beat him in pinochle brought him immense joy.

Bill is survived by his wife, Brenda, a writer; two children, Nicholas Remmes (Katy) and Evan Remmes (Lexa); and five grandchildren.

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