December 30, 2021, 78, Goldsboro –
On the morning of December 30, 2021, Fred Junior Newcomb, 78, “Mama’s young’un from Belfast, NC,” passed away at Kitty Askins Hospice Center surrounded by his favorite girls, wife of 54 years, Myrtle Edwards Newcomb, and his twin daughters, Katy and Beth.
Fred was born on May 23, 1943 on Daisy Street to Bessie and Jasper Newcomb, and was a lifelong resident of Wayne County. The youngest of 11 children, he spent his early years in training to be the ultimate girl Dad, getting dressed up, playing tea parties with his older sisters, and braiding his mother’s hair. The many hours he spent plumbing houses with his father as a young boy convinced him that he would never practice plumbing as a career, and when he graduated from Pikeville High School in 1961, he worked several jobs as a farmer and in sales at American Plumbing.
However – probably the only time he ever strayed from his word – Fred did become a plumber and ran his own plumbing business for over forty years on the side of his full-time career as a maintenance mechanic at Cherry Hospital and as a maintenance supervisor at the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf. He always knew how to make things “right” and had an uncanny knack for fixing anything and everything, no matter how difficult or time-consuming. Every Saturday morning, he’d wake up his wife – and then his daughters – to make plumbing house calls, teaching the value of hard work (and how to spot a bad korky flapper) while digging ditches and cementing pipe fittings. It’s entirely possible that the family’s skin sensitivities developed under Goldsboro-area houses as they crawled together through dirt and insulation.
Fred was happiest when he was busy, and throughout his life, he was heavily involved in community service, leadership, and helping others. He was a 50-year member of the Wayne #112 Masonic Lodge; a volunteer firefighter, Treasurer, and Chairman of the Board at Belfast Fire Department for decades; served on the PTA at every school his daughters attended, and was most recently an elected board member for the Belfast-Patetown Sanitary District where he also served as Chairman of the Board and member of multiple committees. In his retirement, he particularly enjoyed driving a charter bus for Carolina American bus company, which capitalized on his GPS-level knowledge of roadways, his driving skills, and his love of meeting and talking to new people. Fred never met a stranger, and his family always knew better than to send him on any time-sensitive errands. He never could help himself from giving friendly advice to people shopping at home improvement stores or stopping someone in an aisle to figure out why they looked so familiar.
Fred was always quick to share that his formal education stopped at high school, but anyone who knew him was likely the recipient of his wisdom. His advice will stay with his family forever and will explain the anxiety they feel when their gas tank approaches half-empty, why they will always keep a little bit of cash folded in their glove compartment for those things they didn’t know they’d need, and why they’ll always have way too many flashlights since one should always be within reach when the lights go out. Over the years, he accumulated an impressive inventory of old faucets, light fixtures, furniture, and the occasional toilet bowl that would decorate the front of his shop until he could share it with a friend or neighbor who needed just what he happened to have.
One of the things his family and friends will miss the most is his unique sense of humor. Fred loved to tell jokes and those around him could expect a great punchline when his face broke into his distinctive gap-toothed grin. His laughter was contagious and could be so unbridled that he might need to sit down to avoid fainting. As soon as he stopped laughing, he’d make sure to say he was “fine as a frog hair split four ways and twice down the middle,” pausing afterward to relish the time it would take for those around him to decipher his favorite catchphrases.
As quirky as his well-loved sayings were, Fred’s favored pastimes were simple. He loved to cut the grass, tinker in his shop, play sudoku and solitaire, and read the newspaper. He looked forward to weekly dinners with his nephew’s family and would not hesitate to ride over several counties to try a new BBQ restaurant. Even still, he would say his favorite meals were Myrtle’s homemade pizzas or a pack of nabs with a diet drink (a perfectly appropriate “square” meal in his opinion). At Christmas, he loved to share Myrtle’s homemade pound cakes with neighbors or his famous sausage balls with the many friends he made at Goldsboro Veterinary Hospital and other doctors’ offices.
There is no doubt that he was met with good food, laughter, and a celebration in heaven by those who passed before him: his dear mother and father, Bessie and Jasper; beloved mother and father-in-law, Gertrude and Fred Edwards; all of his brothers and sisters; and countless friends and coworkers. Carrying his memory in their hearts are his wife, Myrtle, of the home; daughter Katy Newcomb of Clayton, NC; daughter and son-in-law Beth and Paul Hopfer of New Hill, NC; his grandchildren Edie, Allie, and Thor Hopfer; three sisters-in-law, many nieces, nephews, and other family and friends.
Fred was one of a kind: a loving husband and father, a devoted friend and neighbor, and a dependable community helper. His passing feels like a bright light going off, making the world dimmer and directions harder to find. In the past, Fred would be the one to fix the light. Until they meet him again, his family will honor his memory and life by picking up one of his (many) flashlights and shining his authentic joy and kindness on others. They ask anyone who knew him to do the same for each other.
Arrangements are being handled by Seymour Funeral Home. Graveside services are set for 11:00 AM on Tuesday January 4, 2022 at Wayne Memorial Park.