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William “Bill” Hoggard Cress of Winston-Salem passed away Friday, February 7, 2020 at the W. G. (Bill) Hefner VA Hospice Center in Salisbury, NC. He was 97. He was born on December 31, 1922 in Wilmington, NC to the late Thomas Jackson Best and Nora Pearl Henry Cress and adopted as a toddler by Harry Milford Cress when Pearl remarried. Bill was very close to his Mom and Dad, Harry.
In his early years, Bill enjoyed being a part of community theater. Beginning in 1936, Bill, with his mother, father, brother, and two friends, formed a vaudeville acrobatic act, who traveled and performed on the large stage theaters of the United States. Some of these famous old theaters included; The Roxy and Lowes State Theater in New York City, The Orpheum in Los Angeles, The Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, and The Beacon in British Columbia. Bill loved to tell stories of his years in Show Business. As a 14-year-old, their performance gave way to a standing ovation and 4 “curtain calls.” The MC asked Bill to thank the audience of 5000 and he loved every second of it. They shared the stage with many famous performers of the day.
The acrobatic act known as the “Cress Troupe” and later “The Cressonians,” was performing in Hollywood when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. Bill left the business and proudly served his country in the United States Navy during WWII in the Philippines as a Boatswain’s Mate First Class. Following the war, Bill worked as a Launch Master of a 65’ patrol boat for the US Maritime Commission.
In the late 50’s and early 60’s, Bill managed the Lombardy Hotel in Miami Beach, FL. Afterwards, he began working in the jewelry business and continued for over 40 years. He managed others’ jewelry stores, then opened Cress Jewelers, Inc. in 1969, owning and operating it for over 30 years. Cress Jewelers, founded in Charlotte NC, had locations in Charlotte, Hickory and Lenoir, NC. The original Charlotte store was located on Tryon St., between The Carolina Theatre and Montaldo’s clothing store, now called The Foundation for the Carolinas. At the age of 79, Bill retired; closing the store in 2001.
Over the years, he enjoyed traveling with his daughters, all around the United States, when they were younger. As they grew older, they traveled the world. Travel was a passion of Bill’s.
In addition to his parents, Bill was preceded in death by his brother Thomas Jackson “Jack” Cress.
Bill will be missed by 2 daughters, Shirley Cress Dudley of Charlotte and Tina Cress Kurylak and husband Steve Kurylak of Winston-Salem; 3 grandchildren, Becca Jones and husband Austin Jones of Raleigh, Michael Dudley of Charlotte, and Lana Kurylak of Winston-Salem; and 2 great grandchildren, Ezra and Jude Jones of Raleigh, and a host of family and friends.
A Memorial Service will be held at 1PM on Saturday, February 22, 2020 at First Baptist Church, 301 S. Davidson St., Charlotte, NC. Bill was laid to rest next to his mother and father, and several generations of ancestors at the Ivanhoe Baptist Church in Ivanhoe, NC with full military honors.
Carolina Cremation of Salisbury and Charlotte is assisting the Cress family. Online condolences may be made at www.carolinacremation.com.