July 21, 2021, 100, Goldsboro –
Annie Laurie Howell Crawford Wharton, 100, passed away peacefully at home on July 21, 2021. A lifelong resident of Wayne County, she was born on October 7, 1920, to Jarman P. and Beatrice H. Howell in the Belfast community.
She attended Belfast School, Goldsboro High School, and Greensboro College. Musically gifted, she would sing in public and private, play piano, and perform in theatre productions for the rest of her life. One highlight was her role as Buttercup in the play H.M.S Pinafore, starring with Andy Griffith.
In 1939, she risked (and earned) parental disapproval by leaving college to marry John R. Crawford, Jr. However, their union was meant to be as they were happily married for 49 years until his death in 1988. After his army service during WWII, they returned to Goldsboro where they built their home on Evergreen Avenue. For several years, Annie Laurie worked at John R. Crawford Incorporated, a local insurance agency and taught piano lessons until the birth of her first child, retiring to become a homemaker for the rest of her life.
In 1995, she married lifelong friend Jack Wharton and acquired an extended second family whom she loved dearly. She and Jack were great companions and had many adventures before his passing in 2009.
She was involved in her church and community, including Meals on Wheels, and the Salvation Army Auxiliary where she served as president. She was an active member of First Baptist Church for over 80 years where she served in many capacities including deacon, president of WMU, director of the Girls Auxiliary, Sunday School teacher, Missions Committee Chairman, and choir member. Her contributions touched every part of the church.
The underlying theme of her life was service to others. She managed the affairs for elderly parents, family members, neighbors, and friends when they could no longer do so. Her service to the Salvation Army and her church was a daily part of her life for decades. One of her greatest and lasting achievements was the relationships she formed with at-risk youth as a mentor and friend. The special connection she and Alex Thompson formed many years ago continues to this day. Alex has a successful career with a family of his own and considers Annie Laurie his second mother.
Annie Laurie is survived by her son, Bob Crawford (Nancy); daughter, Laurie C. Harding (Bob); granddaughter Emily S. Byrd (David); great-granddaughter Beatrice Byrd; step-daughters, Lesley W. Marcello (Bobby), Priscilla Wharton, Ann W. Shull (Dick); step-son John Wharton (Amy); grandchildren Elizabeth M. Fabrega (Gus) and their children, Margaret M. Pederson (Tim) and their children, Joey Wharton, and Wendy Wharton; nieces and nephews, Nancy B. Norwood, John L. Henderson, Alice H. Dickson (Jim), and John C. Hamilton (Janet). She was predeceased by sisters in-law, Berta C. Hamilton (Tom), Mary C. Norwood (Charles), and Virginia C. Henderson (John).
Over the last few years of her life, Annie Laurie and her family were especially fortunate to have had a very special group of caregivers who loved and cared for her. Our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Brenda Mills, Sylvia Shine, Linda Smith, Dottie Littleton, Janice Whittaker, Evelyn Alston, and Jackie Harvey.
A service celebrating Annie Laurie’s life will be held at First Baptist Church on Saturday, July 24, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. with Dr. Glenn Phillips officiating. Visitation will follow the service in the Elsie R. Hooks Fellowship Hall. A private burial will precede the memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to First Baptist Church, 125 S. John St., Goldsboro, NC 27530