Ray Earp, a prominent landowner and civic leader, died Tuesday evening in a tractor accident, according to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.
Earp, who lived at 7230 N.C. 42 east of Clayton, was mowing his yard near a ditch when the mower rolled over on him, said Tammy Amaon, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. He died at the scene, she said.
Earp, 64, was active in his community and in the schools. He was a volunteer with the Thanksgiving Volunteer Fire Department for more than 30 years and served as chief for about 20 years. He was a member of the Smithfield-Selma High School Advisory Council for more than 20 years.
For many years, the Raleigh Jaycees held their Brookhill Steeplechase, an annual fundraiser, on Earp land just outside of Clayton. He received the Jaycees’ Award for Community Service and the National Steeplechase Association’s Monk Nolan Award.
Earp was a co-owner of Brookhill Farms and president of Soil Works Inc. He was a longtime member of Centenary United Methodist Church in Smithfield.
A graduate of the McCallie School and Carolina Military Academy, Earp earned his bachelor’s degree from Campbell University.
Surviving are his wife of 39 years, Nancy Crews Earp; a son and daughter-in-law, Raymond “Chip” Earp and Caroline Earp of Clayton; a daughter and son-in-law, Leah and Lee Hodge of New Bern; a sister, Mary “Winkie” Worley of Selma; and two grandchildren, Reid Hodge and Mary Katherine Hodge, both of New Bern.
A graveside service was held Friday at Thanksgiving Baptist Church. A memorial service followed at Centenary United Methodist Church.
The family suggests memorial contributions to the Duke Heart Center, in care of Sean Sondej, Box 3943, Duke University Hospital, Durham, N.C. 27710; or to Centenary United Methodist Church, 140 E. Market St., Smithfield, N.C. 27577.