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R. Dillard Teer

May 12, 1920 October 5, 2018
R.  Dillard Teer
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Obituary for R. Dillard Teer

R. Dillard Teer, Durham business and civic leader, passed away October 5, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 76 years and high school sweetheart, Mildred Roycroft Teer, and his large and loving family.

He was born in Durham, May 12, 1920 to the late Nello L. Teer and Gertrude Adcock Teer, and was educated in the Durham City Schools, Woodberry Forest, Baylor School, and the University of Virginia. He left school in 1940 to actively join his father’s firm, the Nello L. Teer Company, which launched hundreds of major projects during and following World War II and grew to be one of the nation’s largest construction companies.

Dillard’s first assignment with Teer Company was as assistant project manager on the new Raleigh-Durham Airport site in 1941, and thus began a lifelong love of aviation and RDU. For 31 years he was a member of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority (1949-1980) and its chair for seven years. The original RDU tower – astonishingly small by today’s standards -- was moved to his farm in Durham County and sits 40 feet in the air as an overlook to the pond and pastures.

Dillard was justifiably proud of all the projects Teer Company managed over the years, and loved to tell friends about watching his father’s crews digging out UNC’s Kenan Stadium and Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium when he was just a boy. During the World War II years, the Teer Company had a major role in preparing the country for the war effort, and Dillard was actively engaged. In 1942, he was assistant project manager during the construction of Camp Butner, 15 miles north of Durham, where thousands of U.S. Army troops trained during the war years. He was supervisor of construction of a Marine air base near Edenton, then went to Beaufort, SC, to construct a naval air base there, followed by an assignment to build an Air Force training base at Danville, VA.

Teer Company’s major projects included airports, dams and highways, including many segments of the Blue Ridge Parkway, turnpikes in Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maine and West Virginia, sections of the Interstate Highway System, and primary highways through Central America (Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala), plus highways in Tanzania and an airport in Malawi in East Africa. After establishing a building construction division, Teer Company built numerous important commercial buildings throughout the country, including the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of NC building on 15-501 and numerous buildings in the Research Triangle Park.

In 1952 when their father retired from his position as president and became chairman of the board, Dillard’s brother Nello Teer, Jr, became president and Dillard became vice president and secretary-treasurer of the construction firm. In earlier years, he had also served as executive vice-president of Durham-Southern Railroad which Teer Company had purchased in 1954. Dillard retired as senior vice president in 1980 when the Teer company merged with the Pennsylvania corporation Koppers, Inc.

Through the years Dillard and members of his family have been active in Durham's growth and progress. He served as a Durham County Commissioner for four years (1980-1984). He has been active with the Chamber of Commerce for more than 70 years, serving as president in 1967. He received the Chamber's coveted Civic Honor Award in 1970, and was proud to be present when son Robb received that same award in 2014.

A lifelong member of Duke Memorial United Methodist Church, he served as chairman of its board of trustees for many years. He was a Master Mason and a Shriner for more than 60 years. He belonged to the Durham Kiwanis Club from 1952 to present, was club president in 1963, and received its Distinguished Service Award in 2012. In 1960, he was one of Durham’s Fathers of the Year. He was a member of the Durham County General Hospital board of trustees and served on the board of the Triangle J Council of Governments. He chaired the 1977 United Way campaign and later was president of Durham's United Way. He served on Durham's Child Guidance Clinic as a board member from 1957 to 1974 and as its president for seven years. He was a member of the board of Methodist Retirement Home for 22 years (1961-1983.) In the early 1960s, he was board chairman of the Salvation Army’s home for unwed mothers. He was active with the YMCA for many years and helped establish Camp Kanata. In 1992, Dillard received the Golden Book of Deeds from the Durham Exchange Club acknowledging his time and efforts to help build a better Durham community.

Dillard gave time and effort to education throughout his life. He was on the Methodist University board of trustees for 32 years (1967 to 1999), and received a doctorate of humanities from Methodist in May 2000. He also served on the boards of North Carolina Central University (1956-64), and the N.C. College of Veterinary Medicine (1986-1990). In September 1991, he was named an Honorary Alumnus of East Carolina University.

Other honors have come his way over the years as well. In 2008 when the Durham Performing Arts Center was nearing completion, the five Teer children surprised him by making a contribution that named "The Mildred and Dillard Teer Stage." The State of North Carolina honored Dillard in April 2011 with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, for service to the State, and the Durham Center for Senior Life presented him with its 2015 Legacy Award.

Through all his productive business and community years, Dillard was always first and foremost a family man. While 43 Beverly Drive was the family’s home for more than 50 years, he was happiest in his wicker chair on the front porch of their home in Myrtle Beach, preferably with a full house behind him. “Pop” always had a warm hug and time to talk with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. His Durham High School classmates, Duke Memorial friends and fellow Kiwanians knew him to be an engaging conversationalist with great stories to tell about Durham and his fascinating life. Dillard also knew how to enjoy quiet moments, such as birdwatching (or “feeding the deer” as it sometimes became), puttering around the farm, or hunting in Eastern North Carolina with Mildred and friends. He was loyal to longtime employees and quietly did many acts of kindness to individuals around the Durham community.

Dillard is survived by his wife Mildred, two sons and three daughters: Robb Teer and his wife Susan (Tatum), Roy Teer and his wife Susan (Hauser), Pam Whilden, Lyda Mihalyi and her husband Rich, and Nancy Teer. He’s also survived by eight grandchildren: Kristin Teer, Ellen Teer Eaton and husband Chris, Blake Teer Ellis and husband Bret, Amanda Teer Lloyd and husband Kris, Stephen Whilden Jr. and wife Courtney, Guy Whilden and wife Jessica, Scott Mihalyi and Eric Mihalyi. In addition there are twelve great-grandchildren: Tatum Teer-Barutio, Hamilton Ellis, Reagan Lloyd, Cooper Lloyd, Carter Ellis, Tyler Ellis, Truett Lloyd, Olivia Page Whilden, Caroline Whilden, Ellery Whilden, Michael Whilden and Croft Lloyd.

In addition to his parents, Dillard was pre-deceased by two brothers, Nello Teer Jr. and Marion Page Teer, two sisters, Mary Teer Outlaw and Gaynelle Teer Farthing, and a son-in-law, Steve Whilden.

The family would like to thank and acknowledge the wonderful caregiver team that has been so special to the family: Lorene Mitchiner, Donna Garner, Bobbie Phillips and Connie Wooten. They would also like to thank the nurses and staff with Duke Home Hospice.

Funeral services will be held at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 7th at 2 o’clock with the Reverend Heather Rodrigues officiating. The family will receive visitors prior to the service in the Fellowship Hall from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. A private interment conducted by his Masonic Fellowship Lodge No. 687 will be at the Teer Mausoleum at Maplewood Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, friends who wish to do so may make contributions in memory of Dillard Teer to GHA Autism Supports, Attn: Beth Olivieri, P O Box 2487, Albemarle, NC 28002 or March of Dimes, Attn: Development Office, 6504 Falls of Neuse Rd.-Ste 100, Raleigh, NC 27615

The family is being assisted by Clements Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc. in Durham. Online condolences may be sent to www.clementsfuneralservice.com.


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Previous Events

Visitation Prior to the Service

Sunday

7

Oct

12:30 PM 10/7/2018 12:30:00 PM - 1:45 PM 10/7/2018 1:45:00 PM
Duke Memorial United Methodist Church

504 W Chapel Hill St
Durham, NC 27701

Duke Memorial United Methodist Church
504 W Chapel Hill St Durham 27701 NC
United States

Memorial Service Following Visitation

Sunday

7

Oct

2:00 PM 10/7/2018 2:00:00 PM
Duke Memorial United Methodist Church

504 W Chapel Hill St
Durham, NC 27701

Duke Memorial United Methodist Church
504 W Chapel Hill St Durham 27701 NC
United States
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