The Town of Angier is in mourning after the passing of a longtime mayor, civic leader and friend to the community.
Former Mayor R.H. Ellington, 79, died Wednesday following complications related to a medical procedure.
Mr. Ellington, retired from the food distribution industry, was best known for his 10-year term as mayor. He was first elected in 2005 and served through 2015.
Mr. Ellington served during a period when the town experienced significant growth. Perhaps most notably, he presided over the town during construction and opening of the Jack Marley Park. He also led the town as a network of more than 3 miles of sidewalks were built throughout the downtown area.
“He dug the holes when trees were built at the depot,” former Angier Town Manager Coley Price said. “He was a good man, and a great leader. He was a great visionary and everything you see around town is due to what he did when he was mayor.”
Mr. Price knew Mr. Ellington throughout his childhood, growing up with the former mayor’s children.
“His favorite saying to me was, ‘Son, always leave things better than you found them,’ and he did that,” Mr. Price said. “He will be sorely missed.”
The town honored Mr. Ellington by naming the grounds of the depot the R.H. Ellington grounds at Depot Square. The mayor was often seen planting flowers in the depot area and helping to maintain town properties while he was in office. His personal yard was recognized several times as one of the best kept lawns in the town.
Among his other recognitions, Mr. Ellington received the Emsley Kennedy Jr. Award for dedicated service as an advocate for regional government.
Mr. Ellington was a longtime member and leader at Neill’s Creek Baptist Church.
It was a shock to the church according to pastor Dr. Chris Turner.
“At Neill’s Creek Baptist Church our hearts are heavy today as we try to wrap our heads around the magnitude of the loss of a man like R.H. Ellington,” Dr. Turner said. “He has been a statesman of the Angier community, a pillar of our church, and a rock for his family. His presence and influence will be greatly missed.”
Dr. Turner said Mr. Ellington was on many committees, a deacon, Sunday school teacher and active in the Baptist Men’s Organization.
“He believed in doing everything with excellence to the glory of God,” Dr. Turner said. “R.H. was a father figure to so many in our church and community. He was a servant, a man of wisdom, and a dear friend. His mark on our church and the Angier community will be a legacy that will last for years to come.”
Mr. Ellington was also a former president and longtime leader of the Kiwanis Club of Angier. He was also honored as Kiwanian of the Year in the past.
Angier Mayor Lew Weatherspoon issued a public statement on Mr. Ellington’s death.
“The town board, staff and my thoughts and prayers are with the Ellington family during this time,” Mayor Weatherspoon said. “Mr. Ellington was a true statesman and community leader, whose valuable contributions to our town will never be forgotten and should be memorialized. The entire Town of Angier lost a great one with his passing.”
Town Commissioner Bob Smith has served with Mr. Ellington since 2013.
“He was my mentor that got me into town government,” Mr. Smith said. “He was a great man, and a great public servant who will be sorely missed by the town.”
Former Harnett County Board of Commissioner Jim Burgin has known Mr. Ellington for more than 30 years.
“He was a good friend and a good leader,” Mr. Burgin said. “He loved Angier and he always wanted to move it forward. This is a big loss to the community.”
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Bryan-Lee Funeral Home of Angier. Story courtesy The Daily Record