Dr. Herbert Eugene McLeod

August 27, 1930 - June 27, 2023
Dr. Herbert Eugene McLeod

Memorial Gifts & Donations

Gene McLeod, age 92, of Wilmington, NC, passed away peacefully on June 27, 2023 at the Commons of Brightmore.  He could have had no better professional and truly loving care over the past 2 ½ years than was offered by the staff there, and his family will be forever grateful. We appreciate you:  Kelly, Kim, Emily, DaQuanda, Ziggy, Estelle, Demetria, Pam, T, Rhonda, Kisha, Stephanie, Shineice, Emma, Danyel, Tanya, Jennifer, Alessia, Charron, Wanda, Glenda, Darlene, Alexa, Danielle, Jessica, Sheila, Wayne, Guy, Jimmy, Jamilah and Melissa.  Additionally, we are grateful for our wonderful Liberty Hospice team:  Niles, Pam, Liz, Chelsea, Jaylyn and Kelly. (We apologize if we missed a name or two!)

In 2020, Gene was preceded in death by the love of his life, Beth Carwile McLeod, with whom he celebrated 67 years of marriage.  They raised three daughters: Ann Barkley (David) of Wilmington, Gwen Hall (Bernie) of Asheboro, NC, and Clair Peyton (Philip) of Warrenton, VA.  They embraced with joy their seven grandchildren and spouses, Bryan Barkley (Hanna), Kathleen Hall Gee (Eric), Laura Barkley Abrams (Kyle), Steven Hall (Jessica), Sarah Peyton Kaufman (Dustin), Daniel Peyton (Kristen), and Anna Peyton; and their twelve great-grandchildren.  Gene is also survived by beloved sister-in-law, Gloria Carwile of Union, South Carolina; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. Gene was the son of Daniel Isaac and Thelma Dennis McLeod who preceded him in death.  Many years prior when he was nine years old, his family suffered the loss of his little sister, Martha Ann McLeod, who was only seven.

Gene was shaped over the years by his dwelling in the Love and Grace of God, shown first to him by his parents and rural church community, and shared with Beth during their marriage, with his family, and with his colleagues.  He traded his upbringing of tinkering on farm equipment for tinkering with words and books—sending his girls to the opened dictionary on the bookcase with a “let’s look it up” declaration, delighting in double entendre, enjoying the wit of comics, and choosing with intentional deliberation his words (yes, slowly) uttered in sermon, conversation, or the blessing at the table.  He enthusiastically nurtured the curious mind and found books to be vital in providing broad perspectives and understanding.  He was the family theologian, sharing the knowledge of his seminary training and imparting the patience and willingness to sit with many questions unanswerable.  His status as “Superhusband” to Beth was best characterized by his response when she told him she had rheumatoid arthritis and he replied, “No Beth, WE have rheumatoid arthritis.”  His Daddy, aka “Dooblydada,” superstar status was honed in smoothing frilly socks just so on the feet of three little girls, washing their small hands with his large hands cupped around theirs, and reading them the funny papers aloud each Sunday and then perfected with enduring the rapid fire chit chat around the dinner table, learning to appreciate the radio blaring with pop music of the 70s, and offering counsel to the teenage angst of existential crises. It fully shone in his last few years, when beset by severe dementia, he trusted his girls with his loving blue eyes and broad smile of joy as they recounted stories of his life with an “I’m so glad to hear that” or “I’m so glad you have that memory.”  As Granddaddy, and more recently, Great Granddaddy, he was always available for the reading of a book to as many children as could fit on his lap, to proudly attend their numerous school plays, concerts, and sporting events, and to lend an ear and gently share his well-earned wisdom through all ages and stages of life conundrums.  Known to calmly join the rowdy games and remind the grandchildren that sportsmanship should trump competitiveness, he was also always ready to cheekily participate in the banter of competitive ACC sports, reminding all of his grandchildren that his Clemson Tigers would forever be the best, even if “this year”, they were rebuilding.

That transformation of his internal core by God’s Grace and Love informed not only his relationships to his family, but to all he met.  He saw the potential in every person, valuing them as a unique child of God, and desired to always extend the benefit of the doubt to others. He often quoted the Jesuit Priest, John Powell, and reminded us to always consider that “behind all obnoxious behavior is pain.”  He was ever the gentleman, complete with social grace until the end. Even in his dementia, he genuinely asked, “how are you?” and offered an earnest “thank you.”

Gene grew up in the farming community of Rembert, SC.  Agricultural Engineering was his first pursuit, interrupted by two years of active duty in the Korean War after college, but resumed over 11 years of research and teaching. He obtained master and doctorate degrees at Iowa State and held professorships at Clemson and Ohio State.  Thinking he was in his dream job, Gene was surprised (as was Beth!) to experience a spiritually-based vocational crisis, which led to a decision to prepare for Christian pastoral ministry.  In 1964, they moved their family to Wake Forest, North Carolina for him to enter Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  By the time he received his Master of Divinity Degree in 1967, he had joined the faculty as Professor of Bibliography and Librarian (Director).  Concurrently, he returned to school again, earning a master’s in Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  After twenty-six years of service, he retired from the Seminary in 1993.  Additionally, he was active in several professional societies, including serving as President of the American Theological Library Association.

Though qualified by theological education and professional position to be an ordained minister, Gene found his primary religious identity as an ecumenical Christian layman and peacemaker.  That ecumenical spirit led him to interdenominational and interfaith involvements, and to respect people of all faiths and those of no professed faith.  His faith commitment was expressed in his church-related profession and local church service, and through service in organizations working for social justice and peace.  He served on the Peace and Justice Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches, the Board of Directors of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, the Steering Committee of the Carolina Interfaith Task Force on Central America, the Wake Forest Human Relations Council (founding chairman), the Wake Forest Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Celebration Committee, and the Board of Directors of Triangle Pastoral Counseling.  He and Beth also served as trainers and retreat leaders for the Association of Couples for Marriage Enrichment.  Active members of Wake Forest Baptist Church for 47 years, after moving to Wilmington in 2011, they enjoyed the fellowship of First Baptist Church.

A celebration of Gene’s life will be at Wake Forest Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC, Saturday, July 22, 2023 at 1pm.  In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Hope House of Wake Forest at www.hopehousewf.org and World Wide Mission Fund of First Baptist Church of Wilmington,

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  • July 28, 2023
    Patsy Dennis Canaan says:
    Gene was my first cousin. I will always remember him as the kind, loving & understanding person that he was. I so appreciate his & Beth’s support during a very difficult time of my life. He always shared encouraging words with his thoughts & prayers. My prayers are with his family. God bless you.

  • July 23, 2023
    Frankie Mae D & Louis Edward Saunders lit a candle:
    Lit since July 23, 2023 at 7:33:03 PM

  • July 05, 2023
    JoAnn McCachern Swart says:
    The legacy of Gene McLeod’s goodness is inextricably intertwined with the beautiful memories he & his wife, Beth, left in the ways they touched strangers, as well as how their Christian faith made a loving difference in those they knew-including church friends, neighbors, & their amazing family. That family will ensure that the lessons learned from Gene & Beth McLeod, as well as their stories, will be treasured for generations to come-a tribute indeed

  • July 05, 2023
    Danyce DIcks says:
    Sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family. My prayer is for peace for each of you during the days ahead.

  • July 01, 2023
    Jennifer Oatman says:
    He was such a calm and soothing presence and always showed such genuine interest! His smile, kindness and warmth just stay with you…like you take a little piece of him with you. Maybe that’s part of the gift - he will live in all of those he touched. And I feel blessed to have been touched by him. My love to you all as you grieve and may you have what you need most as you heal.