A new Vance-Granville Community College scholarship has been endowed in memory of Robert and Elizabeth Williford by their children. The Willifords were well-known as the longtime owners and operators of the Oxford Ace Hardware store. Their four children, Elizabeth Dale Williford of Indian Beach/Salter Path, Rob Williford II of Oxford, Dot Williford Wilson of Chapel Hill and John Williford of Oxford, along with Rob’s wife, Lori, and John’s wife, Teresa, recently gathered at VGCC to celebrate the creation of the new scholarship.
The Robert T. “Buster” and Elizabeth Brent Williford Memorial Scholarship will be awarded at the Presidential Merit Award level. In awarding the new scholarship, preference will be given to students from Granville County and to those who are enrolled in VGCC’s Accounting and Business Administration programs.
Buster Williford died in 2011, and his wife, also known as “Betty B,” in 2013. Both were Granville County natives and members of Oxford United Methodist Church.
The Williford children remembered their father as intelligent and “self-taught,” but lacking much formal education. “Daddy didn’t go to college,” Rob Williford said. “Education was important to him, in part because of his lack of it. He always told his children to get an education because it’s something nobody can take away from you.” Dale Williford likewise recalled that her father always instructed his children and grandchildren, “Think, think, think.” After rising to become vice president of McCracken Oil in Henderson, Williford went into a new business venture by purchasing the Oxford Ace Hardware store from a neighbor in 1974. John and Rob Williford bought the store from their parents in 2001. The business is a longtime supporter of the VGCC Endowment Fund Golf Tournament and is the oldest continuously-operating Ace Hardware store in North Carolina.
“Betty B,” born Elizabeth Brent Mayes, attended Greensboro College for one year. She became her husband’s constant companion in life and in business, as the co-owner of the store and creator of its “Bridal and Gift Shoppe” section. Her children recalled that she was an excellent bookkeeper and that their parents formed “a great team.” “They worked hard, but they put family first,” said Dot Williford. “Momma supported and worked closely with Daddy. She was always right there beside him.”
“I think that our parents would be proud of us for helping people to further their education,” Rob Williford added.
“We are thankful to the Williford family for supporting VGCC students through this scholarship that honors the legacy of a remarkable couple who were active in the community while raising four children and growing a landmark local business,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of VGCC. “The scholarship will help students for years to come who are gaining the education they need to achieve success in business.”
Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 8,800 scholarships to students since 1982. Scholarships have been endowed by numerous individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business or industry with a lasting gift to education. For more information about the Endowment Fund, call (252) 738-3409.