This world lost an angel on January 12, 2023, and the City of Fayetteville lost a daughter. Merle Elizabeth Rainey Prewitt was born in Fayetteville on March 15, 1928, to the late Merle Elizabeth Weaver Rainey and Dr. William Thomas Rainey, with its founders subsequently attaching his name to the Highsmith Rainey Hospital. Though Merle travelled near and far in her blessedly long life, she always called Fayetteville home.
She graduated from Fayetteville High in 1946. In 1950, she graduated from Duke University with a degree in Mathematics. Not long after, and back in Fayetteville, she met a young soldier from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky named Alfred Norris Prewitt. They married in 1953 and thereafter until Al’s death in 2003.
In her long years of residency in Fayetteville, Merle was steadfast in her commitment to make her hometown a better place. That commitment started at her home church of First Presbyterian downtown. She was an active member even past the time that she could initiate her own travel. She held offices, chaired committees, distributed clothing to the poor, and always made good on her tithe. She was angelic in her support of The Cancer Center of Fayetteville. Perhaps God has now told her the exact number of self-knitted caps she gave to children suffering from cancer, but no one here could possibly keep count. She was a member of The Garden Club and The Junior League of Fayetteville. She was a perpetual organizer and volunteer for the Holly Day Fair. She was a Patron of the Arts Council of Fayetteville.
She was the 2011 recipient of Cumberland Community Foundations’ Mary Lynn McCree Bryan Leadership Award for decades of work in helping found and thereafter proliferating Cape Fear Studios in downtown Fayetteville. While her family described Merle as a “starving artist” as relates to her own creations, what Merle lastingly created in her hometown was a venue for artistic expression and art enthusiasm. It endures today without her, just as she envisioned.
Her greatest effort on this world was saved for the rearing of her four boys in the cul-de-sac on Devane Street. Big Al always remained a bit of a boy for her to continue to raise right up until his death. She was the idyllic version of Mom to Tad, Rob, and Tom, all of whom in adulthood have upheld her requirements of hard work and Christian service, and all of whom still today make their homes in Fayetteville. Merle was the quiet force in the house. Quiet, but tough as a lighter knot. She had high expectations and she showed great compassion both in the raising of her own sons and in the village that was comprised of the friends of her boys.
Merle loved flowers. She loved Jesus more. If you are moved to donate in her honor, the family thanks you in advance and can suggest no better place than her beloved First Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, NC or gifts may be made to Merle R and Alfred N Prewitt Memorial Fund c/o Cumberland Community Foundation P O Box 2345, Fayetteville NC or at www.cumberlandcf.org
Merle is preceded in death by her parents Dr and Mrs. William T. Rainey, her brothers William T. Rainey Jr, Robert W. Rainey, and her husband Alfred N. Prewitt
She is survived by her sons William ( Tad ) Prewitt wife Janet, James ( Rob ) Prewitt and Thomas (Tom) Prewitt wife Lee. Grandchildren Elizabeth Gilluly husband Chris, Edward Prewitt wife Stephanie, Caswell (Cas) Prewitt, step grandchildren Holden Ammons and Chase Ammons and great grandchild William Gilluly.
The family will receive friends at Rogers and Breece Saturday, January 14th from 4 to 6 pm. Graveside Service to be held on Sunday, January 15th at 3pm at Cross Creek Cemetery on Grove Street.
May God bless all the special friends made late in Merle’s life at The Carolina Inn and at Community Home Care and Hospice.