Bill left not only two daughters, seven sisters and three grandchildren, but also left footprints the size of Sasquatch from well-worn Russells that none may ever fill. He also left holes like those from a W.J. Jeffery .600 Nitro Express in the hearts of all who knew him, from all walks of life.
South Carolina Gamecock, musician, English and photography teacher, Shakespearian scholar, professional photographer, state champion girls’ softball coach and encyclopedic gun and ammunition aficionado, Bill’s enthusiasm for knowledge was exceeded only by his intuition and love for people.
I first met Bill Curry in the winter of 1983, having been invited to join the RichMont Hunt Club by a mutual friend. Arriving late one Friday evening for a Saturday morning deer hunt, I was met by Bill with a plateful of “chicken,” which I heartily ingested. Only later did I discover that it was a freshly killed diamondback rattlesnake.
A year or two passed and we met again, this time at one of the many gun shows at the Charlotte Merchandise Mart. I was new to gun collecting, while Bill both manned his booth and cast a keen eye over every firearm there. He was especially good at educating someone holding grandad’s old rabbit-eared Damascus side-by-side, pointing out it’s potential dangers and making not only a fair offer but a fair profit when he turned it over at the next show.
Bill was always one to look after the novice or underdog, willing to educate and enlighten, whether about guns or about life in general.
Come hard times or hurricanes, Bill Curry was always there for those who knew him. Whether ballistic advice or just brotherly chatter, Bill was easy as an old shoe, always available, never judgmental, lending both ears and a big heart, and you always knew he had your back. There was never any doubting it.
A few more years passed and we were again cast together, as charter members of the Carolina Vintagers, our chapter of The Order of Edwardian Gunners, which Bill served as long-time president. Love of side-by-sides, vintage attire and like-minded shooting companions partially define this group, and much of its tweed-clad membership paid their respects at Bill’s visitation and funeral. A deeper definition defies mere words, but transcends occupations and oceans, social class and centuries, nimrods and novices. Bill could break bread with a sharecropper one day, yet rub elbows with royalty the next. Such were both his humility and civility.
Multiple trips together to the Vintage Cup, whether in Rhode Island, New York or Maryland were excuses to hobnob, and served as autumn backdrops for our forays in search of both new friendships and fine guns. Though there was no more savvy gun-finder than Bill, there were no more enthusiastic friend-finders than Bill and Cindy Curry.
The Carolina Vintagers will never forget our outings with Bill and Cindy to Primland, Deep River, The Homestead, River Bend, Harris Springs, Rocky Creek, Drummond Farm and of course, Georgetown. Sadly, our most recent trip was the most poignant and vivid of them all. But as we share the grief, loss and sadness of Bill’s large extended family, we celebrate both his indomitable spirit and singular personality that we knew as father, friend, brother, loyal husband, mentor, sage, teacher, Pop Pop, and the one and only Saucey Peacock, King Emeritus of his worldwide shooting and sporting fraternity.
As we all know, the Edwardians frequently ordered bespoke and matched pairs, or even trios of guns. As collectors and shooters, we often come across the number 1 or number 2 gun of a pair, but, sadly, without its mate. It often seems like the Holy Grail to re-unite your favorite gun with its long-lost companion. Such was the case that Wednesday morning when Bill and Cindy Curry, the loveliest bespoke pair ever composed, were reunited in their maker’s arms.
Bill, you may have shot your last earthly round, whether with Parker or Lefever, Holland or Lebeau, Francotte or Fabbri. You may have been from Africa to Arkansas, Clover to Columbia and eventually found a temporary home in Charlotte. But I know that you and Cindy have found Eternal Home, where view birds count, there are no misses or misfires and you may shoot from the hip. Always know what the two of you meant to us mere mortals left to carry on and grieve your passing.
Whatever you do, though, don’t try to trade the Lord Almighty out of His golden trio of Purdey hammer guns!
True friendships, unlike fortunes, can never be lost. They remain here, in our hearts forever. And as we departed Bill and Cindy’s gravesite, as bagpipes played “Amazing Grace,” not a soul would deny that we had just said farewell to a true friend. — Charles Ferree