John F. Renfro

Published 4:49 pm Monday, May 21, 2018

John F. Renfro Jr., 81, of Spartanburg, died May 18, 2018.

Born Feb. 18, 1937, in Spartanburg, he was the son of the late John F. Renfro and Bonnie Babb Renfro. Educated in the Spartanburg City schools, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Davidson College in 1959. In 1960, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

John married Beverly Folger in 1960 at First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg. 

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After his service in the U.S. Army, the couple moved to Spartanburg in 1963, where he began his lifelong career with Inman Mills. In 2002, he retired as vice president. He was devoted to his work, colleagues and friends at Inman Mills.

In high school, John earned the Eagle Scout Award and promoted scouting throughout his adult life. In 2017, in honor of his 80th birthday, his three sons, along with Inman Mills, commissioned the John F. Renfro Jr. Scout Center in Inman to recognize his contributions.

John was very active in his community, and served on numerous boards and committees.

He was treasurer and trustee of the Inman-Riverdale Foundation, as well as a trustee for both Queens College and the Mary Black Foundation. John also served as a board member on the Arts Partnership of Spartanburg, the Spartanburg Development Association, the United Way of the Piedmont, and the Spartanburg Area and state chambers of commerce.

John received the Morgan Award from the United Way in 1995 and the David Reid Award from the Arts Partnership in 2001. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Chapman Cultural Center.

From 1988 until 2010, John and Beverly resided on their family farm in Gowansville. They joined Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Tryon where he served as treasurer. Upon returning to Spartanburg, they rejoined First Presbyterian Church where John served as an elder.

John Renfro was an incredibly loving husband, father and grandfather and was blessed with many friends.  Known as “Papa John” by his family, he never missed an opportunity to spend time with his children and grandchildren. Some of his favorite memories were the many fishing, hunting, skiing and beach trips with family and friends.  He will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.

In addition to his wife, John is survived by three sons, Dr. John “Trip” F. Renfro III (Dr. Suzanne D.) of Greenville, McDuffie “Mac” F. Renfro (Marianna) of Cornelius, North Carolina, and Foy F. Renfro (Dr. Mark A. Bradshaw) of Ashland, Oregon; six grandchildren, Sloan, Sarah, and Emma Renfro of Greenville; Mary Taylor of Charlotte; and Brooks and Anna Renfro; half-sister, Helen Bridgforth of Dallas; brother-in-law, Guy Wellman of Flat Rock, North Carolina; and his loving dogs, Boogie and Dabo.

He is predeceased by his parents and his half-sister, Frances Wellman.

A service of witness to the resurrection will be conducted by the Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Evans and the Rev. Joanne R. Hull on Tuesday, May 22, at 4 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church 393 E. Main St., Spartanburg. A visitation will be held following the service.

A private committal will be held at Cemetery Hill, Clemson.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Mobile Meals: P. O. Box 461, Spartanburg, SC 29304; Palmetto Council; Boy Scouts of America: 420 S. Church St., Spartanburg, SC 29306; or the Chapman Cultural Center: 200 E. St. John St., Spartanburg, SC 29302.

Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Dunbar Funeral Home & Crematory