Washington is home to a lot of famous folks. Actually, many celebrities have either stayed here, lived here, or were born and raised in Washington.
One person of note is Edward Peed. Peed was killed Feb. 8, 1902 after he responded to a fire on the downtown waterfront. He was a 20-year veteran of the all-black volunteer Salamander Fire Company of Washington. While fighting the blaze, a wall collapsed on Peed, killing him instantly. He was the first black firefighter killed in North Carolina. Two memorials pay tribute – one at Fire Station #1 and one at Beebe Memorial Park.
Another famous person, CBS journalist, the late Charles Kuralt, (born in Wilmington,) lived in Washington when he was five years old. In later years, after he became an established writer and correspondent, he traveled to Washington often and stayed at what is now The Pamlico House. The lovely lodging even has a room named after Kuralt.
One of the most celebrated filmmakers of all time was from Washington, Cecil B. DeMille. A few of his well known movies include The Ten Commandments (1923) and (1956), Sampson and Delilah (1949), and The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). DeMille was not born here (His father, Henry, was,) but he spent most of his boyhood here. A memorial dedicated to him stands in the St Peters Episcopal Church Cemetary.
Yet another Hollywood legend from Washington was film actor Murray Hamilton. Having been born here and attended Washington High School, he left town at age 19 to pursue his career as a thespian. His repertoire includes The Hustler (1967), The Graduate (1967), and Jaws (1975). Hamilton returned to Washington before his death in 1986 and is buried in local Oakdale Cemetary.
Of prominence as well is NBA legend Dominique Wilkins, who also attended Washington High Scool. He was an NBA all-star and played 11 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks as well as shorter stints with other pro teams. I remember my dad saying that he got to play ball with Wilkins in the early 1970’s at the 15th Street courts, where many teens and youth still meet up to play.
Singer/songwriter/author Jimmy Buffet has visited Washington several times. In 2015 he contracted local Pacific Seacraft for a custom built 44’ boat. He also contracted Uniforms Galore in town to embroider his Margaritaville logo on merchandise.
My personal favorite Washingtonian celebrity is NFL wide receiver, Terrance Copper. He is a graduate of Washington High School and East Carolina University. Copper has played for the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, and the Kansas City Chiefs.
He has also given unselfishly to support local causes including ‘Shop with a Cop,’ where special needs kids get money to shop at Walmart at Christmas. Also, I’ve seen and spoken to him many times at my local gym. He’s just a genuinely good guy.
Just a few years ago actress Hillary Duff and her crew were in town filming. She stayed at the Elmwood 1820 Bed & Breakfast. Owner Richard Smoot says Duff is a “delightful and down to earth person.” She really enjoyed Smoot’s homemade candied bacon during her visit. So much so that she asked for and got his recipe.
Many people have called Washington home or have come to visit and appreciate its charm. What ‘Washington celebrity’ stories do YOU have?