W. Jay Laughridge Jr.

Published 1:26 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2009

W. Jay Laughridge Jr., age 85, passed away Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 at WakeMed Hospital in Cary, N.C.&bsp; He had his faithful, loving wife and all his children by his side. Born in 1923 in Forest City, N.C., to W. Jay Sr. and Belle L. Laughridge, he was preceded in death by both parents.

Jay was a 1st Lt. and fighter pilot in the 9th Air Force, flying P-51s and P-47s (354th FG; 356th Red Ass Fighter Squadron) during WWII. He piloted 60 combat missions and 70 combat sorties that covered from the Battle of the Bulge to the end of the war in Europe.

Returning from the war he married his sweetheart, Joyce Marie Davis, from Rocky Mount, N.C., and studied textiles at N.C. State before going to work at Rocky Mount Mills. He retired from a lifetime in the textile industry that ended with Johnson & Johnson in Gainesville, Ga.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

He is survived by his dedicated wife of 63 years, Joyce Davis Laughridge of Holly Springs, N.C.; brother, James Palmer Laughridge of Marietta, Ga.; son, W. J. Digit Laughridge III and wife, Beth, of Campobello, S.C.; son, James L. Laughridge and wife, Vickie, of Fuquay-Varina, N.C.; daughter, Terri L. Thompson and husband, Larry, of Holly Springs, N.C.; grandchildren (7); Christopher and Matt Laughridge of Campobello; and Meredith L. Cross, Esq. and husband, John, of Apex, N.C.; Kalyn, Torin and Tanner Laughridge of Fuquay-Varina; and Chelsea Thompson of Holly Springs.

Jay Laughridge was one of the Greatest Generation, and among this nations veteran heroes, who without hesitation risked everything so we might enjoy the liberties and freedom we all share today. Known to his P-51 combat flight crew and fellow pilots as Lt. Moe Stach (because of his distinctive handle-bar mustache), he was, and always will be, this familys hero.

A memorial service celebrating and honoring his life was held Saturday afternoon, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. at Capital Funeral Home, 2205 East Millbrook Road, Raleigh, N.C. 27604.

Online memorials: www.cremnc.com.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C. 28201.