ASHEBORO — Billie S. Vuncannon, the founding executive director/CEO of Hospice of Randolph, died Dec. 6 at Cone Health in Greensboro. She was 84.
Vuncannon’s passion for hospice care and assertive advocacy during the period of 1981-1983 is what led to the founding of Hospice of Randolph County and the acceptance of the first patient in 1983.
She remained in her role as CEO until her retirement in 2001, at which time she became an honorary board member and continued to contribute to the agency’s vision and mission for many years.
Vuncannon was the first employee of Hospice of Randolph County and Sandi Hopkins was hired second as a registered nurse. The first office was at the corner of Wainman and Cox in Asheboro.
In 1992, Hospice of Randolph County moved into the new administrative office at its current location, 416 Vision Drive, Asheboro.
Ranette Vuncannon Rodden, Vuncannon’s daughter, had this to say about her mother:
“My sister and I could not have asked for a better mother. She was a perfect example of what a mother, wife and friend should be. She was always so loving, understanding and approachable. Her family always came first. She loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with all her heart. All that knew her learned something from her. One of the last things she said to me last week was, ‘Ranette, pray and teach your family to always forgive.’ Oh how we will miss her, but her legacy will live on.
“With Hospice, she gave it 110 percent in all she did.”
Sandi Hopkins, Vuncannon’s co-worker at Hospice of Randolph, recalls their time together:
“I met Billie when she came to speak at a class that I was teaching with nursing aides. After that, we spent time together during a hospice volunteer training and she shared with me that they were looking for a nurse coordinator for their patients. She encouraged me to apply for the position. I enjoyed being a hospice volunteer and I decided to apply for the position. I ended up being the second employee of Hospice of Randolph and was hired in 1984.
“We originally shared an office, one room, at the Health Department and then we moved. When we moved, she put masking tape on the floor to outline and label where she wanted everything to be at our Wainman office. She wanted people to know the needs and see her vision.
“She always encouraged me and others to look for the little nuggets in life and in each situation. She encouraged me to stretch and grow. She was a visionary and always looked for ways the agency could grow and accomplish more.”
Trent Cockerham, CEO of Hospice of the Piedmont and Hospice of Randolph, added the following:
“Our organization’s legacy is deeply rooted in the work of individuals in our community who sought to bring an important model of care to those around them facing end of life. As founding executive director and CEO of Hospice of Randolph, Billie Vuncannon’s vision and drive to create a hospice organization over 40 years ago has left a lasting legacy that is still being pursued today through a staff of over 200 team members serving over 2,000 patients each year in hospice care.
“We are grateful for those who have come before us and especially for Billie’s leadership in those formative years of Hospice of Randolph. Her love for her community created opportunities to touch so many lives and inspired healthcare professionals alike. On behalf of our board, staff, volunteers and those we serve each day, we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends.”
Vuncannon was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of the late William Jess Stone and Edna Carol Taylor Stone. She graduated from Asheboro High School, Wingate University and with honors from the Bowman Gray School of Nursing. Billie also received an associates degree in business administration from St. Joseph's University.
In addition to her parents, Billie was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years, Tony Rain Vuncannon.
Surviving are her daughters, Susan A. Vuncannon and Ranette Vuncannon Rodden, sister Barbara Lou Stone Greer, half sister Sally Blevins, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Her funeral was held Dec. 11 at Ridge Funeral Home with Chaplain Tim Pheagin officiating.