Remembering a Special Tar Heel Friend

He likely would have left the memorial service held in his honor early; the words of tribute he’d earned would have made him uncomfortable. He viewed his many years of service as a coach, counselor, lawyer and teacher as his public duty. Many work quietly, but effectively, behind the scenes. The Bill Aycocks, who too seldom grace our lives, warrant remembering for a long time — exemplars of what servant leadership should be. I was fortunate to have worked closely with Bill and to have him as a beloved friend. I was greatly honored to speak the following remarks at his memorial service on Oct. 21 about his lifelong love affair with Carolina:

Douglas S. Dibbert '70.

Douglas S. Dibbert ’70.

Bill Aycock ’65 was a Tar Heel.

“Some, they say, are born with silver spoons in their mouths. Bill Aycock must have come into the world with tar on his heels and a lawyer’s briefcase in his hands. Born in Alabama, Bill came to Carolina while still in diapers. Part of his growing up was in Victory Village. Polk Place was his backyard, Woollen Gym his playground; Emerson Field was Bill’s sandlot, the brick walkways his sidewalk to school and church.”

Those were the opening words of the citation on the occasion of Bill’s receiving the General Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Medal in 1999.

Bill always reflected an inner peace and a quiet confidence, which most certainly came from a joyful childhood provided by his loving and values-driven parents, Grace and Bill, to whom he remained fiercely devoted. Seldom did he come to an alumni association board meeting without first visiting his parents. When his mother passed away, Bill often would stop by Carolina Meadows before and after our meetings. There was very little doubt that his dad was his hero and his best friend.

The General Alumni Association was most fortunate to enjoy Bill’s long, dedicated leadership and service for 28 years — as a district director, vice chair, chair and volunteer counsel. He contributed wise, thoughtful leadership on a wide range of issues. As board chair, he served on the Chancellor Search Committee. He encouraged the association to launch the General Alumni Association Scholars. As counsel, he conscientiously reviewed many contracts, skillfully crafted needed language to protect the association’s interests, and brought focus and clarity to every issue. The association is forever grateful for his exemplary service and leadership. Personally, I will miss his friendship greatly, for along his journey with our association, Bill became an older brother I never had.

Bill was a longstanding member of the Rams Club and could be seen regularly in the Smith Center and Kenan Stadium — always with his oversized binoculars. I awaited and always enjoyed Bill’s keen analysis of the previous day’s game. And while he faithfully supported our Tar Heels, as a longtime fan, he was quick to share his frustrations with an official’s errant call or when disappointed by one of our players or coaches. I’ll forever cherish the Carolina baseball games we attended together.

As a member of the University’s Board of Visitors and, with his wife, Alexa, the board of visitors of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, as visiting lecturer in the UNC law school and a member of its alumni association board, Bill always preferred a low profile and never wanted credit.

As a child, a friend once told me “you cannot love something that cannot love you back.” Well, Bill loved Carolina, and Carolina loved him back. He met his devoted, loving and courageous Alexa when both were Carolina students.

Bill’s family was his north star. All Tar Heels, his parents, his wife, sister and brother-in-law, his daughter, his son, daughter-in-law and grandson — together and individually, in Chapel Hill, on Figure Eight Island or here in Greensboro, no opportunity for additional billable hours on behalf of his many valued clients could prompt him to compromise on his much cherished time with them.

Chapel Hill’s James Taylor concludes his North Carolina anthem — Carolina in My Mind — with these words: “Yes, I’m gone. Say nice things about me. Yes, I’m gone. Carry on without me. I’m gone.”

Bill has now gone to where the skies are forever Carolina blue, where Tar Heels always win and where he has found the peace he was seeking and so deserved. For those whose lives he touched and forever enriched, he takes with him our eternal gratitude.

Yes, William Preston Aycock II was and always will be a Tar Heel.

Hark the sound.

Yours at Carolina,

Doug signature





Douglas S. Dibbert ’70


For more, see “Carolina Loses Wise Counselor, ‘Great Teacher,’ ‘Tireless Friend,’” page 74 in this issue.


Share via: