Doris Burney Willard Memorial Donation

We wish to acknowledge the generous donation made in memory of Doris Burney Willard.

Doris Elizabeth Burney Willard (6 October 1916-30 May 2000) was an exemplary family historian and a charter member of the North Carolina Genealogical Society.

A native of Lumberton, N.C., Doris was the daughter of Thomas Matthew (1882-1965) and Mollie Russell Burney (1884-1964). While a student at East Carolina (ECTC), Doris met her future husband, George S. Willard, Jr. (1914-1995). For most of their married life, they resided in Wilson, N.C.

Doris began recording family data in the summer of 1934, while visiting her Aunt Virdie Russell McNair (1880-1974) in Richmond County, N.C. Virdie had an amazing memory for the names, dates, and relationships of many of her relatives and ancestors. Later, Virdie’s information provided a foundation for building a documented family history. From the 1960s to the 1990s, Doris performed meticulous and detailed research into the lineage and lifestyle of the Burneys, Cains, Allens, Russells, McNairs, and Baldwins, as well as the Willards, Turnages, Highsmiths, Phillips, and Warrens.

Doris made numerous trips to courthouses, libraries, archives, manuscript collections, and cemeteries. She built a sizeable personal library of relevant books and maps. She increased her skills by taking a course in local history and biography taught by genealogist and local historian Hugh B. Johnson. She participated in workshops held by the N.C. State Archives and became a member of the New England Genealogical Society, the South Carolina Historical Society, the N.C. Genealogical Society, and the Wilson Historical Society.

Her pursuit of family history was a life-enriching experience for Doris and her family. Sharing family history not only preserved knowledge of ancestral roots, but also strengthened the bonds between extended family members.

On a personal note, I joined my mother, Doris Burney Willard, in a variety of family history projects. She set an excellent example for me in her appreciation of family, her thoroughness as a researcher, her attention to collateral lines, her clarity as a writer, her appreciation for social history, and her insistence on evidence-based proof for genealogical conclusions.

-George-Anne Willard Brown, PhD

Visit www.ncgenealogy.org/donate/ to donate to the society and help provide a lasting legacy of historic preservation and genealogical education.