AHOSKIE – Hal Daniels devoted his life to others. Whether it was opening his drugstores after hours for a customer in need or welcoming family to their summer home on the Chowan River, he put family, friends, and strangers first. What a legacy for a beautiful man, who passed away October 1, 2017 at his home surrounded by his family after a brief period of declining health. He was 87.
Born April 7, 1930, on the family farm in the Riverside community of Bertie County, NC, Hal was the first child of Herman and Roxie Daniels. It was in this close-knit farming community, he learned the value of hard work, integrity, and lifelong friendships. After Hal’s father died as the result of a farming accident, the bond between Hal, his mother Roxie, and his sister Ida Rose grew extremely close and something he greatly cherished. After graduating from Colerain High School, Hal entered the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy in 1952. While in pharmacy school, he was inducted into The Rho Chi Society, pharmacy’s prestigious national academic honor society.
Hal worked briefly as a pharmacist in Wilson, NC before being accepted into Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI where he graduated with the rank of Ensign. During his first duty, Hal served as a line officer, assistant deck department officer, and assistant gunnery officer aboard the destroyer tender, the USS Grand Canyon (AD-28). As part of the Sixth Fleet based in Norfolk, VA, the USS Grand Canyon made a tour of the Mediterranean Sea and ports of call in eight different countries. Hal’s second duty station was in Charleston, SC where he assisted in the conversion, outfitting and commissioning of the USS Lookout (YAGR-2), a Guardian-class radar picket ship where he served as deck department officer and gunnery officer. The USS Lookout was part of the early defense warning network, which surrounded the continental United States, and their duty was to identify any unidentified aircraft and vessels approaching this country, and to take appropriate action. His third duty station was as communications officer of the Naval Aviation Supply Depot in Philadelphia, PA whose mission was to supply aircraft parts to naval aircraft all over the world. Hal earned the rank of Lieutenant JG and remained forever proud of his military service, always feeling like it was an honor to serve his country.
While serving at his second duty station in Charleston, SC, Hal would make the long drive back to Colerain to court his childhood sweetheart, Annie Ruth Miller. Their first date – Hal was 16 and Annie was 12 – was a hay ride. Ten years later, they were married on March 25, 1956, sharing over 61 years of a loving and rewarding marriage.
Upon completion of his active naval duty in 1957, Hal returned to North Carolina. For over 30 years, he owned and operated Capps-Daniels Drug Co. and Copeland Drug Co. in Ahoskie. Day or night, Hal made sure the medicine got where it needed to go. Prescriptions for sick children were filled first. He would meet customers in the middle of the night, even if just for Band-Aids. Once he returned to the store after hours – at the same time burglars were trying to break in. His stores grew to become among the largest providers of pharmacy service in northeastern North Carolina. Hal insisted his drugstores feature old-fashioned lunch counters, where regulars and newcomers gathered for hot dogs and fellowship.
Hal was active in many community and professional groups, including the Ahoskie Jaycees (former President), Ahoskie Junior Chamber of Commerce (former President), the Ahoskie Planning Board (former Chairman), the Ahoskie Board of Adjustments, the Hertford County Health Department Advisory Board, Centura Bank (now RBC, local board member, 30 years), Ridgecroft School (board member), North Carolina Pharmaceutical Association, and the American Pharmaceutical Association. Hal was an active member of First Baptist Church of Ahoskie.
In 1989, at age 59, Hal underwent heart bypass surgery, hastening his retirement from pharmacy. While he may have retired from his daily practice of pharmacy, Hal remained a lifelong pharmacist and was extremely proud of his profession. During his retirement, he was an active businessman, investor, and community activist. Hal especially appreciated the opportunity to work, invest, and watch his son Henry grow as a businessman. Among his interests: First Baptist Church of Ahoskie, Historic Hope Foundation, Ridgecroft School, and civic organizations that served and promoted Ahoskie and Hertford County. After his heart surgery, he actively supported the American Heart Association and was dedicated to daily exercise and a healthy diet which he contributed to his longevity and good health until shortly before his death.
Hal understood that life’s deepest joy comes from reaching out to others in all the ways possible. He was dedicated in his mentoring of aspiring pharmacists. He hired numerous high school students during their junior and senior years that expressed an interest in pursuing a career in pharmacy. Many of those students became pharmacists and are found throughout eastern North Carolina.
A true gentleman, Hal’s kindness, integrity, leadership, humor, and his profound generosity were respected by all who knew him. Each Christmas, he would buy more than 50 boxes of Russell Stover Candies (his favorite) for friends and neighbors. An avid amateur photographer, he would snap a beautiful portrait, then give a framed 8 by 10 picture to his subject.
A man of tradition, family vacations never changed – a week at The Caravelle Resort at Myrtle Beach, SC. He was such a loyal customer, they gave him an honorary key to his room. He liked nothing better than gathering family at their summer home on the Chowan River for boating, fishing and relaxing – capped by Saturday night steaks on the grill and Southern Delights (bourbon and Coke), just for the adults, of course.
On family-owned property at Mount Gould, Hal loved sitting in a swing on the river bluff that provided an expansive view of the Chowan River, enjoying the peace and quiet, no doubt thanking God for a lifetime spent giving and receiving love.
Hal’s greatest pride was his family. Hal is survived by his beloved wife, Annie Ruth Miller Daniels; two children – Kim Cherry and her husband, Ed, of Charlotte, and Henry Daniels and his wife, Pat, of Ahoskie; five grandchildren – Dr. Elizabeth Cherry Reichard and her husband, Jeff, Anne Miller Cherry, Edward Gray Cherry III, Roxie Taylor Daniels and Ruthie Ann Daniels; and two great-grandchildren – Margaret Anne Reichard and Scott Reichard. Many of Hal’s most cherished moments in retirement came with his five grandchildren. They brought him joy, laughter and he took great pride in the young adults they had become and in their academic, athletic, and professional accomplishments.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Herman Henry Daniels and Roxie Boyce Daniels, and his sister, Ida Rose Daniels Perry.
The family is grateful to the doctors and caregivers who tended to Hal during his illness, and to all who shared kindness in different ways for many years, including friend and caregiver Ella Darden and friend and property/lawn maintenance man Thomas Cherry.
A graveside service will be held at Highland Memorial Gardens at 1 PM on Thursday, October 5, 2017 with a memorial service to celebrate his life following at 2 PM at First Baptist Church of Ahoskie, 312 Main Street West, Ahoskie, NC with Dr. Trey Gilliam officiating. A reception will be held immediately after the service in the Fellowship Hall of the church.
In lieu of flowers, please consider sending memorial contributions in Hal’s memory to either First Baptist Church of Ahoskie, P.O. Box 649, Ahoskie, NC 27910 or online by clicking here; Vidant Home Health and Hospice, 521 West Myers Street, Ahoskie, NC 27910 or online by clicking here ; or Ridgecroft School, P.O. Box 1008, Ahoskie, NC 27910 or online by clicking here. If wishing to send flowers, this can be done locally through Added Touch Florist, Ahoskie, NC at 252-332-5710.
Arrangements are in the care of Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service, Ahoskie, NC. Online condolences can be shared at www.garrettsykesfs.com.