William D. “Bill” Vinson ’48

William D. “Bill” Vinson ’48 passed away at his home on April 7, at the age of 90. He was born in Rochester, Minnesota, to Lenore Dunlap Vinson and Dr. Porter Paisley Vinson, the youngest of their three children. Raised in Richmond, Virginia, he attended Davidson College and proudly served his country during World War II. Upon returning from the war, he completed his degree at Davidson and then obtained a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

It was during his time in Chapel Hill that he met his beloved wife of 63 years, Mary Godbee. They moved to Asheboro, North Carolina, where he began a 35-year career with General Electric Company; upon retiring from GE, he and Mary moved to Davidson.

For decades, Bill was known on campus as the most stalwart of Wildcat fans, bouncing over brick sidewalks in a golf cart on his way to the next athletic contest, fundraising event or classroom presentation. He was a regular fan in the stands at field hockey and tennis matches, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball games, football, and men’s and women’s soccer. In 2012, Bill was honored by the Southern Conference with its Distinguished Service Award for his abiding dedication to Davidson athletics. He also aspired each year that his Davidson class would reach 100 percent participation to the college’s annual fund; he had the bully pulpit as a longtime class secretary whose chatty submissions to the Davidson Journal are legendary.

Bill’s love for both the college and the town ran deep, with family connections going back a century and a half. His great-grandfather, Pinkney Helper, built the Helper Hotel, now the Carolina Inn academic building. His grandfather chaired the college mathematics department in the 1890s, and his son, Bill Jr., lived in the ancestral family home on Main Street when his dad was renting it to the college for student housing in the 1970s. Bill and Mary renovated the home to its full Victorian splendor and returned to Davidson to live in it in 1987.

The family requests, in lieu of flowers, considering a gift to Davidson College, Davidson College Presbyterian Church, Gilwood Presbyterian Church or a charitable organization of your choice.


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