Wilson Porter Rhoton, Jr. (“Mr. Rhoton”, “Reverend Rhoton”, “Pastor Rhoton”, “Wilson,” “Dad” and “Granddaddy”), passed away peacefully on September 12, 2021. Wilson was born January 27, 1930, to Wilson Porter Rhoton, Sr., and Helen Laura Klos Rhoton. He grew up in St. Louis Missouri, and attended Westminster College for three years until enlisting in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. After two years of active duty, he returned to the University of Missouri where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. He then attended Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and was awarded the Master of Divinity Degree in May 1957. His first call was for two churches: the Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church in Darfork, Kentucky and the Harveyton Presbyterian Church in Harveyton, Kentucky. He served those churches until 1960 and then answered a call to the newly organized Glendale Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina. He served that church until November 1963, when he accepted a call to be the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Mount Holly, North Carolina. He served that church for 32 years, retiring in the fall of 1995. After retirement, he served as interim for pastoral care at the First Presbyterian Churches in Gastonia and in Belmont, North Carolina. He also temporarily filled many of the pulpits of other Presbyterian Churches and grew to know congregations throughout Gaston County. He believed in a life of service to others. He was instrumental in the work of the Mount Holly Community Relief Organization, volunteered with the Boy Scouts and, in 1984 was honored as the Man of the Year in Mount Holly, North Carolina. He was preceded in death by his wife Frances Stowe Rhoton, and his sister Anne Rhoton Gallea Burton. He is survived by his son, Wilson Porter Rhoton III (“Porter”), and wife Deborah Fulghum Rhoton (“Debbie”); his daughter, Frances Anne Rhoton Otersen (“Anne”) and husband Mark Hubert Otersen (“Mark”), four grandchildren whom he adored, Beck Rhoton Otersen (“Beck”), Margaret Porter Otersen (“Meg”), Wilson Brice Rhoton (“Wil”), and Hampton Porter Rhoton (“Hampton”). He is also survived by his brothers, Ray Gene Rhoton of Leland Michigan; and Dale Kilmer Rhoton and wife Elaine Thomas Rhoton of San Diego, California. There are countless others he considered his children during his decades as a minister. If you met Wilson, he always remembered you. He’ll be remembered for the joy and comfort he brought during weddings, funerals, visits, telephone calls and so many other occasions. He shared many jokes, enjoyed many laughs, and touched many people during his 91 years. “Better days are ahead!” and “Keep smiling” he would often say. He lived a life of giving and of love, and until his last day, he shined his light for all to see. The family plans to hold a Celebration of Life at a later date and suggests a memorial donation to First Presbyterian Church of Mount Holly or a charity of the donor’s choice.
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