Editor’s note: This story corrected Mr. Fletcher’s place of death, which was in Greenville and not at his home on Ocracoke.
Ocracoke Islander John S. Fletcher II, 82, a former Hyde County commissioner and retired lawyer, died Sunday in Greenville following a brief battle with cancer, according to information from Wilkerson Funeral Home, Greenville.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean Mincey Fletcher, his grandson, John Stuart Fletcher, III and his sister Carolista “Tootsie” Golden.
Born Feb. 22, 1938, he was a son of a Navy officer. He lived his early years in California, Washington, D.C., Annapolis, M.D., and Edenton, N.C.
In 1957, he graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy where he served as a Mounted Cadet and a Squad Leader.
After earning his juris doctor degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, he began his legal career in Greenville with Frank Wooten in 1962.
Fletcher grew up in Edenton, and in 1972, moved to Swan Quarter where he spent 35 years as a general practice lawyer, including 10 years as the Hyde County attorney and stints as a college professor and magistrate.
One of his proudest contributions was his pro bono work for Hyde County Social Services, where he worked on behalf of children and those who could not help themselves.
In addition to his law practice, he spent time creating what is now the Law Enforcement Training Program at Pitt Community College and served as an administrator and an instructor.
He also taught in the School of Business at East Carolina University and was an adviser to several service groups and the TKE fraternity. During his time in Greenville, he also earned his juris master’s degree from New York University.
For his career and his love of travel, he took his family to Ottawa, Canada, to become a professor of law at the University of Ottawa. He enjoyed his time there, made life-long friends and made numerous trips back to the country during his lifetime.
Among his numerous contributions to the county was the flood-control dike that was completed around the town of Swan Quarter. His work on the project began in Greenville in 1962, then started and stopped over the next five decades, until completion of the project in 2010.
During that time, Fletcher did research, negotiating, lobbying, funding, permitting and planning to help bring the project to fruition.
Being an attorney in a small town, he was always in tune with the community and did whatever was necessary to help others: meeting on their schedule, offering friendly advice, telling the inconvenient truth, driving a grain truck during picking season, or working out payment plans. Many times, he received a bushel of oysters or a wooden duck decoy as payment for his services.
After building a vacation home on Ocracoke Island, Fletcher spent weekends, vacations and retirement there.
He jumped into politics in 2012 and won the commissioner seat, having beat incumbent Darlene Styron.
“Somebody spent a lot of money educating me and I want to give back,” he said in an October 2012 interview about his taking on this position after having retired from fulltime work in 2003 and moving to Ocracoke with Jean. Incumbent commissioner Tom Pahl defeated Fletcher in 2016.
While in retirement, Fletcher spent weekends closing loans, writing wills and providing legal services to those who could not travel. He knew and loved the history of the island, its’ families and the historic property deeds that included descriptions such as “the big cedar tree in Monk’s garden.”
One of his grandmothers was Inglis Fletcher, an author who, in the early part of the 20th century, wrote The Albemarle Series of novels about life in colonial eastern North Carolina, some of which are available in the Carolina Room of the Ocracoke Community Library.
Fletcher is survived by his sons John Dixon and Donald Hay Fletcher; daughters-in-law Dawn Delano and Susan Deluca Fletcher; his grandchildren, Charles Dixon and Madison Eleanor Fletcher; his brothers David and James Fletcher, and Mark and Dossey Pruden, and their families.
A memorial Service will be held at a later time. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to St. George’s Episcopal Church of Engelhard or to Hyde County Emergency Services.
The Wilkerson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.