William Gamewell (Bill) Major, Jr., 92, of Camden, SC, passed away on Sunday, July 20, 2014. He was the son of the late William Gamewell Major, Sr. and Alma (Baby) Muldrow-Major of Camden. Born in Florence, S.C. Mr. Major moved to Camden as a youth in 1935. He was the 1st Boy Scout in Kershaw County to be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout. Salutatorian of his class at Camden High School in 1940, Mr. Major was the 1st Sports Reporter for the "Bulldog", later renamed the Palmetto Leaf. With his classmate, the late Jak Smyrl, they were the staff artists for the Gold and Black Yearbook of 1940. With his partner, the late Jimmy Little, they captured the 1939 and 1940 SC State High School Doubles Tennis Championship.
Attending Wofford College and Furman University, Mr. Major entered military service in 1943 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. He was one of a hand full of "triple rated" navigator-bombardiers and a pilot in the 20th Air Force. Promoted to 1st Lieutenant, Mr. Major entered World War II from the Island of Saipan. He was in the "lead flight" of B-29 Superfortresses that bombed Tokyo for the first time since the Doolittle Raid. After 25 successful combat missions and the loss of two bombers, he was transferred to the 509th Composite Group on the Island of Titian. Lt. Major participated in both Atomic Bomb drops. After the war, Mr. Major was promoted to Captain and served two years on Okinawa in the Army of Occupation. Returning home in 1949 with a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, he started a 38 year career in banking. After retiring, Mr. Major served 20 years as a Crossing Guard at "Roscoe’s Corner". Called again into active military service during the Korean Conflict, Capt. Major was the Commanding Office of Company B, The 713 th Gun Battalion of Camden’s National Guard Unit.
Mr. Major was a civic icon. A member of most of Camden’s civic organizations, he was a Life Member of the VFW, the Camden Shrine Club, the Kershaw Lodge of Ancient Free Masons and a SC Hall of Fame Bowler.
He is survived by his wife, Annie Grace Blackwell-Major, two daughters, Sandra (Mickey) Reeves and Gloria (Gene) Boone, and one son, William (Rusty) Major. He is also survived by three step-sons, John (Pat) Mims, Michael (Janice) Mims and Donald (Roni) Mims. His extended family included five grandchildren, nine great grandchildren. Mr. Major was predeceased by his first wife of 61 years, Colleen Elizabeth Barfield-Major and his eldest granddaughter, Elizabeth Ann (Beth) Reeves.
Memorial services for William Gamewell "Bill" Major, Jr. will be held at 11:00 AM, July 23, 2014 at Kornegay Funeral Home, Camden Chapel. Rev. Michael Leonhardt will officiate. Memorials may be made in Bill’s memory to a charity of one’s choice.
Kornegay Funeral Home, Camden Chapel, is assisting the family.
Online condolences may be sent to the Major family by visiting www.kornegayfuneral.com.