Morganton and the Burke County area pause today to reflect on the life of Joseph B. Hairfield who died late Saturday afternoon. He was born on January 30, 1925 in Morganton the fifth son of six from a family of seven children to Edward M. Hairfield, Sr. and Elizabeth Taylor Hairfield. Upon graduation from Morganton High School he studied at Wake Forest College. Later he was admitted to the Federal United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY where he studied marine engineering and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1944. Upon graduation from Kings Point he received an appointment to the Naval Reserve of the United States Navy from the President of the United States. He served on the Eufaula Victory, American Mariner, and the United States. Later he worked for the U.S. Lines. He was involved in transporting supplies to Europe and troops returning home. Once as he was on his way to the bridge he heard a shout. It was one of two survivors who were missing after a plane crash. The other three had drowned. Another mission was to rescue survivors from a burning tanker. During the war he met and was dazzled by a ravishingly beautiful brunette, whom he married after a whirlwind romance. Following retirement from his seagoing career the young family of four moved back to his home town in North Carolina. There he established the Hairfield-Wilbert Burial Vault Co., a manufacturer and distributor of subsoil vaults for casket placement. The company is today the benefactor of his perseverance and guidance. What exactly can be said of the man? That his final years were blighted by the damp blanket that slowly diminished his mind? Should it be his wry sense of humor that remained with him to the very end, his wily observances of all things, or simply focus on the biscuits and bop he made from leftover holiday turkey? Oh, he was a winemaker; not in the traditional sense. He'd pour something from one bottle and something from another into the same glass. At Grace Ridge, in his last years, he received boundless care and good cheer that surely lengthened his days. How can you sum up a life in words that make people who didn't know him feel as though they'd missed someone special, or make people who did know him feel our family's loss? Everything and nothing, thats how we're supposed to feel. And remember. He is survived by his wife Orael Hairfield, his son Steven Hairfield, his daughters Jodie Harrison (John) and Leslie Hairfield, three grandchildren Matt Dougher, Jay Dougher, and Anna Hairfield, and eight great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his son, Robert Hairfield. Funeral Services will be held at 11:30 A.M. Wednesday February 1, 2017 at First Baptist Church in Morganton, with Rev. Dr. Tom Bland officiating. Interment will follow at Forest Hill Cemetery. The family will receive friends Tuesday from 5:30-7:30 P.M. at Heritage Funeral Service in Valdese. Flowers are appreciated or memorial contributions may be made to First Baptist Church, PO Box 459 Morganton, NC 28680. An online guestbook and obituary is available at www.heritagefuneralservices.com. Heritage Funeral Service & Crematory of Valdese is serving the Hairfield family. It was a long and interesting journey Joe, you've earned your rest.
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