Bill Hefner

Gospel Vocals - Tenor The Harvesters

Born: Boaz, AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame


Willie Gathrel "Bill" Hefner (April 11, 1930 – September 2, 2009), was a Democratic U.S. Congressman from North Carolina, serving between 1975 and 1999.

Born in Elora, Tennessee, Hefner graduated from high school in Sardis, Alabama. He attended the University of Alabama, and he became the president and owner of radio station WRKB in Kannapolis, North Carolina. He was a member of the Harvesters Quartet, a group of gospel music singers based in North Carolina, from 1954 to 1967, and was a television performer on numerous North Carolina TV channels.

In 1974, he was elected as a Democrat to the 94th United States Congress; he served a total of 12 terms, from January 3, 1975 until January 3, 1999, when he retired from Congress.

Hefner built a reputation as an advocate for military veterans, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salisbury, North Carolina, was renamed in his honor in 1999.

After retiring from Congress, Hefner moved with his wife, Nancy, to Alabama. He served from October of 2001 until November of 2002 as the District One commissioner for Marshall County, Alabama. He died in Huntsville, Alabama on September 2, 2009 after suffering a brain aneurysm.[1]


1^ "Former Congressman Bill Hefner dies at 79". The Fayetteville Observer. 2009-09-03.





HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Bill Hefner, a former 12-term Democratic congressman from North Carolina, Southern Baptist gospel singer, and radio station owner, died of a brain aneurysm Wednesday. He was 79.

Nancy Hefner said she and her husband had attended a Democratic dinner in Guntersville, Ala., Tuesday night, after which she said he complained of being dizzy, so she called paramedics. The couple had moved to Alabama after he decided not to run again in 1998.

Mr. Hefner joined the US House in 1975 and was dean of North Carolina’s US House delegation when he decided not to seek a 13th term. He represented the Eighth Congressional District, which comprises several south-central counties.

He was a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He fought for funding for Fort Bragg in his home state when he was chairman and later ranking minority member of a military subcommittee that had say over most construction on US military bases.

He also was known for his work on veterans’ issues.

“When I think about Bill Hefner, I think about his work on behalf of our veterans, our military, and their families,’’ US Representative Larry Kissell, who serves in Hefner’s old seat, said in a statement. “He set the example of how to care for those who fight for our freedom.’’

Mr. Hefner was the owner of a Kannapolis radio station. He was swept into office during the 1974 elections, when Republicans paid at the polls for the Watergate scandal.

He moved up the seniority ladder, becoming a power broker who was called on by both Democratic and Republican governors to get funding for state projects. Jim Hunt, a former governor, said he contributed to getting Interstate 40 completed from Raleigh to Wilmington.

A Tennessee native who attended school in Alabama, Willie Gathrel Hefner was a founding member of the gospel group Harvesters Quartet, which began in 1953 in Charlotte.

The group disbanded but was reorganized by Mr. Hefner until he ran for Congress, according to the group’s website.

Mr. Hefner, who had a history of heart problems, decided not to run again after hearing at Christmas that a family friend was diagnosed with cancer.

“I always counseled my staff to work hard, to take their responsibilities seriously, but to never forget their personal obligations to their families,’’ Mr. Hefner said in 1998. “I have always thought that was good advice, and I am taking it.’’

Republican Robin Hayes won the seat in 1998 and held it for 10 years.

Mr. Hefner also leaves two daughters, Stacye and Shelly.


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