This is the story of James Byron Priest, Jr. known to many as J.B. J.B. was a wonderful man that was loved, is missed, and will always be cherished by his family and friends. “BB” as many children in the community & church and ultimately his grandchildren called him, “Sweetheart” as he was called by his wife, Patsy, of 55 years and “Daddy” was one of the cherished names he was called by his three children-Lisa, Jamie and Kevin. J.B. was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.
J.B.’s story starts on June 11, 1944, the second oldest child born to James Byron (Byron) Priest Sr. And Hazel Coleman Priest. J.B. idolized his father and was always in his shadow helping him at his general store and helping work on the farm at a very young age. He loved to play cowboys and Indians, enjoyed being a Boy Scout and played a coronet in the school band. Upon his graduation in June 1962 from Clarkton High School, he had dreams of attending college but his father’s untimely death in July 1962 changed those plans and he had to take over the family farm and business. He was always grateful for having the years following his father and learning from him because he had to put those lessons in place very quickly to help support his mother and two younger siblings.
J.B. and Patsy joined in holy matrimony on October 15, 1965 and welcomed their daughter Lisa in 1969, son Jamie (James Byron Priest, III) in 1975 and Kevin completed their family in 1979. Upon the passing of J.B.’s mother in 1986, J.B. and Patsy also became caregivers for his sister Sandra.
J.B. loved working the earth and watching things grow. Fond memories that his children have were of helping plant gardens and seeing new baby animals after they were born. He and Patsy raised their children to work hard and appreciate simple things in life. J.B. finally semi-retired after 51 years of farming in 2013 when he turned the family farm over to his sons that are the third generation to farm the family land. He continued to “truck” farm or “finger” farm as his family liked to call it. He would point and tell the “boys” what needed to be done on a regular basis on the farm. J.B. was an outdoorsman that loved to fish and hunt and was a founding member of the Lisbon Hunting Club.
J.B. loved feeding groups of people and looked for ways to get people together to enjoy food & fellowship. A chance encounter with a group of beaver trappers from Pennsylvania started a tradition that was held on the farm for 20 years called Beaver Fest. It would bring people from several counties around and would be held in January every year. It grew each year and entertainment was added and would see as many as 300 attending faithfully. He was nicknamed “The Mayor” of Lisbon and would hold office hours at Mr. Harry Alford’s store several days a week. He always joked that he ran the cheapest campaigns because no one ever ran against him.
J.B. and Patsy enjoyed being with the kids that grew up with their children and enjoyed putting together ski trips for the youth group at Lisbon Baptist Church for many years. They enjoyed coordinating the trips and J.B. was known for tubing down the mountains instead of skiing. Great times were had by all and memories of those times were still fun for him to reminisce over. J.B. loved the beach also and would always make sure there was a family trip after the tobacco was finished every summer.
J.B. loved his community and his church. He was a lifelong member of Lisbon Baptist Church and served on several committees and he dearly loved his church especially the children. He was a founding member of the Lisbon Community Watch and the Lisbon Volunteer Fire Department serving in different capacities for those organizations.
J.B. and Patsy was blessed with two grandchildren and they have been their heart and joy. Hannah and James Riley loved riding on the farm with BB and seeing the cows, pigs, and chickens. When it was time for the crops to be planted, they got to jump on the tractor and ride with BB to plow and plant the fields. He loved attending basketball games at Columbus Christian Academy watching both children play. James Riley always came out of the locker room to find his BB first to hear what he thought about the game and to hear the game’s stats. He always took BB by the hand to help navigate the walk back to the parking lot as his health was declining.
J.B. was diagnosed with an aggressive type of prostate cancer in 2010 and received wonderful care and treatment at Duke Cancer Clinic. He never complained and tried to make the best of the situation. Stopping by Burney’s every month to take croissants to the cancer clinic made him a hit. The doctors and nurses were always aware that it was his visit day. Lots of new restaurants were found and frequented between Durham County and Bladen County over the 10 years of treatments. He had the strength of a giant and a heart of gold.
Loved ones that cleared the path for J.B. were his father James Byron Priest, Sr. and mother Hazel Priest. Loved ones that will miss J.B. until they meet again is his wife, Patsy Tart Priest; his daughter and son-in-law Lisa Priest Clark and Kenneth Lenwood Clark of Whiteville; his son and daughter-in-law James Byron (Jamie) Priest III and Cassie Thomas Priest of Lisbon; his son and daughter-in-law Kevin Lane Priest and Melinda Harrelson Priest of Elizabethtown: his grandchildren-Hannah Vann Clark and James Riley Clark; his sisters Kay Priest Sherin of North Myrtle Beach, SC and Sandra Louise Priest of Fayetteville and his brother David Thomas Priest of Wilmington.
Special friends that are like family: Dr. Charles, Kristel, Connor, Christian and Currin Haworth
Services will be held on Sunday, January 17, 2021 at Draper Field 2519 White Plains Church Road Council, NC 28434 with a drive-thru visitation from 12:45pm-2:45pm and a drive-in funeral will be held at 3pm.
In lieu of flowers please make donations to: Bladen Community College Foundation designated to the J.B. Priest Jr. Memorial Agriculture Scholarship P.O. Box 384 Dublin, NC 28332 www.bladencc.edu/bcc-foundation/donate or Columbus Christian Academy (designated to the Basketball Program) P.O. Box 1100 Whiteville, NC 28472 or Lower Cape Fear Lifecare 1414 Physicians Drive Wilmington, NC 28401.
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