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William Griffin Arey, Jr
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Birth: Feb. 18, 1918
Cleveland County
North Carolina, USA
Death: Mar. 26, 2010
Albemarle County
Virginia, USA

William Griffin Arey Jr., 92, a former Panama Canal Company official once credited with averting a potentially-ugly political demonstration by Panamanian nationalists planning to invade the United States Canal Zone, died at Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge.

A native of Shelby, North Carolina, he was a son of the late William Griffin Arey and Catherine Roberts Arey.

Mr. Arey graduated from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) in 1939 with a Bachelors Degree in journalism, and after co-founding the Cleveland Times Publishing Company and The Cleveland County Times in 1941, became one of the youngest newspaper publishers and editors in North Carolina. He volunteered for military service in 1942 and served five years with the United States Army Air Corps, the last two as an air traffic controller.

After the War, he resumed his career as General Manager of the Cleveland Times Publishing Company and co-publisher and editor of The Times and served in that capacity until the sale of the Publishing Company in 1948. During his tenure as editor, The Times was awarded the North Carolina Press Association's General Excellence Trophy for being, "The model weekly newspaper in North Carolina."

Mr. Arey joined the United States Foreign Service in 1948 and accepted an assignment as Public Information Officer/Attache with the United States Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. Three years later, he was reassigned to the United States Embassy in the Republic of Panama as Public Affairs Officer/Attache, which led to his becoming in 1954, Public Information Officer of the Panama Canal Company/Canal Zone Government. While serving in this capacity, he was credited with foiling a political uprising by Panamanian nationalists seeking to establish their flag in Zonian territory. Time magazine [March 14, 1960] reported: "By ominous coincidence Panama's Constitution Day last week fell on the final day of the inevitably riotous pre-Lenten Carnival. Inside the Canal Zone, the United States braced for a repeat invasion by the stone flinging mob that last year tried twice in a single month to plant the Panamanian flag on Canal Zone soil. The provocation was still strong: since last year's riots, the United States House of Representatives has passed a resolution formally opposing display of the Panamanian flag, and in a Panamanian presidential-election year, such action served to keep the issue hot. But last week, thanks to an inspired bit of ground-giving by Canal executives, the threatened fireworks sputtered out with barely a pop. Zone Governor William Potter gives the credit to his public information officer, William Griffin Arey Jr. Hearing the Canal Company condemned both for not flying the Panamanian flag and failing to get into the carnival spirit, Arey proposed to answer both complaints by decorating lamp posts on the Canal side of Fourth of July Avenue, where the carnival parade would pass, with United States and Panamanian carnival flags. Potter cleared the idea with Washington and authorized Arey to spend $14.85 for 30 United States and Panamanian 12-by-18 inch flags. When the sun rose on the fluttering pennants, Panama's nonplused Foreign Ministry announced it viewed "with much pleasure what has happened, and as an act we should consider as one of positive significance."

Mr. Arey was later commended by President Dwight D. Eisenhower for his "high degree of competency demonstrated and judgement exercised in the meritorious performance of [his] public affairs assignment on the Isthmus of Panama."

In 1963, Mr. Arey was appointed Director of Media Relations of the United States Travel Service, a United States Commerce Department agency created to expand United States foreign exchange earnings by encouraging tourism to the United States from abroad. Nine years later, he was named the agency's Acting Director. He was appointed Executive Director in 1971, and in 1974, was awarded the Commerce Department's Silver Medal in recognition of his, "distinguished performance and achievement in the promotion of travel to the United States, and for internationally recognized professional leadership."

Upon his retirement from the Civil Service, he immediately joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation as that organization's Corporate Secretary.

In 1987, he moved to Wintergreen in Nelson County, in 1987, and in 1994 became the first chairman of the newly-formed Nelson County Travel and Hospitality Association.

He has been a full-time resident of Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge in Charlottesville since 2008.

Mr. Arey is an emeritus non-resident member of the Cosmos Club, the National Press Club, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Foundry Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.; the University of North Carolina General Alumni Association, Chapel Hill, North Carollina; Sigma Nu fraternity; the Nelson County Historical Society and The Wintergreen [VA] Nature Foundation.

His first wife, Louise Turner Craft Arey, died in 1988; and a son, William Griffin Arey III, in 2000.

Mr. Arey is survived by his second wife, Jean Getman Arey, of Charlottesville, whom he married in 1991; a son, John Arey, of Florida; a brother, Robert Arey of North Carolina; a sister, Mary Alice Arey Dorton, of North Carolina; two nieces, three nephews and an extended family of cousins and in-laws.
Family links: 
  William Griffin Arey (1893 - 1958)
  Catherine Roberts Arey (1895 - 1981)
  William Griffin Arey (1918 - 2010)
  Robert Jackson Arey (1921 - 2015)**
  Richard Everett Arey (1927 - 2007)*
*Calculated relationship
Created by: A. L. Parrish 💜
Record added: Mar 28, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 50337851

- A. L. Parrish 💜
 Added: Jun. 30, 2017

- A. L. Parrish 💜
 Added: Mar. 28, 2010

- A. L. Parrish 💜
 Added: Mar. 28, 2010

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