William Thomas Fuller, M. D. (1866-1921)

Dr. W. T. Fuller, ca. 1908. Library of Virginia
Dr. W. T. Fuller, date unknown. Library of Virginia

Was Head of Bank – Many Citizens Join Family in Grief
Dr. W. T. Fuller, one of the leading physicians and businessmen of this section, died suddenly in his office in E. Washington street, here last Saturday. The exact cause of his death could not be learned.
Dr. Fuller was an academic graduate of Hampton Institute, Shaw University, Leonard Medical School, Raleigh, N. C. He came to this city from Danville, Va., and in a short time had built up a large practice. He was connected with many business ventures here. Chief among them was the Phoenix Bank of Nansemond, of which he was president. He became connected with this institution during its infancy and it has had a phenomenal success ever since. Today it is one of the most progressive banks of which the race can boast.
Dr. Fuller was in every sense a man who lived for his people. Always in the front ranks, he towered head and shoulders above the masses. No home into which he had not entered and administered to some member of this family. Few bedsides his loving hand and gentle voice, had not soothed and softened the pain which it was his pleasure to alleviate. The oldest citizens and those who knew him longest and best could not hide their sorrow. It is indeed a blow to the community.
He was fifty-five years of age, and leaves a loving wife and two daughters.
Funeral services were held at his home, 149 Pine street, Tuesday afternoon. The services were conducted by Rev. R. J. Butts. Burial was in his private lot in Oak Lawn Cemetery. The Mt. Vernon Lodge No. 48, A. F. and A. M., had charge of the remains.

Norfolk Journal and Guide, February 12, 1921

Funeral of Prominent Man Held – The funeral services of Dr. W. T. Fuller were held from his residence, 149 Pine street, Tuesday afternoon, 2:30 o’clock, conducted by Rev. R. J. Butt, assisted by Rev. L. T. Watson, Rev. J. A. Harrell, and Rev. G. W. Brown. Prof. W. H. Tate sang a beautiful solo.
Burial was in Oak Lawn Cemetery. The pall bearers, active and honorary, were as follows: Dr. E. L. H. Rance, W. W. Holland, L. L. Reid, J. F. Peele, Beverly Hunter, Richard Malone, Benj. Hale, Henry W. Collins, J. H. Lawrence, Chas. Trotman, G. H. Pugh. Active D. B. Diggs, H. Y. Williams, W. H. Parker, William Green, J. B. Hardy and J. W. Richardson. The funeral being one of the largest held here in years. Many persons from all parts of Virginia and North Carolina being present. Dr. Fuller was widely known and greatly loved. The body was in charge of Lodge No. 48, A. F. and A. M.
Dr. W. T. Fuller, the son of Norman Fuller and Frances Elizabeth Macon, was born January 26, 1866, Caswell County, N. C. At the age of 10 years his parents moved to Danville, Va., where he received his elementary education. He was from childhood a bright boy and gave many evidences of rare intellectual capabilities. When but a lad of 14 years, he held a position as stamper in one of Danville’s largest tobacco firms, a position never before held by any person of color.
He entered Hampton Institute in 1887, and graduated with honors in 1891. He entered Leonard Medical College, Raleigh, N. C. 1891, and graduated as class valedictorian in 1895. He practiced for a short while at Reidsville, N. C. He afterwards moved to Winston-Salem and practiced there six years. He moved to Suffolk, Va., in 1901, and was actively and successfully engaged in his profession until his death, Saturday, February 5, 1921.
He saw service as a soldier in the Spanish-American War in 1898. He was president of the Phoenix Bank of Nansemond, president of the Nansemond Emancipation Association, director of The Tidewater Fair Association, and was active in all civic, religious and educational movements, a man of rare talent and deep and independent thinker

Norfolk Journal and Guide, February 19, 1921

In Memoriam

Whereas, God in his infinite wisdom has removed from our midst our esteemed and beloved president, Dr. W. T. Fuller, who by his long and faithful service had endeared himself to all his associates, friends and the public; and

Whereas, the Phoenix Bank of Nansemond is deeply mindful of the services he rendered during those years, in the promotion and the up-building of the bank, and his friendly interest so high appreciated by every depositor and customer; and

Whereas, by his death his family has lost a loving husband and father, and the Phoenix Bank of Nansemond a faithful and trustworthy president; be it therefore

Resolved, That the members of the board of directors of the Phoenix Bank of Nansemond unite in extending our heartfelt sympathy in this their recent bereavement; and be it therefore further

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to his family, a copy be spread on the minutes of our board meetings and a copy be sent to the GUIDE for publication.

Phoenix Bank of Nansemond
W. W. Holland
T. W. Richardson
Dr. E. L. H. Rance

Norfolk Journal and Guide, March 5, 1921

Dr. William Thomas Fuller was the son of Norman Fuller (ca.1828-1883), of Hanover County, Virginia, and Frances Elizabeth Macon (ca. 1837-1883), of Richmond, Virginia. Both of his parents passed away in Danville, Virginia. Dr. Fuller married Miss Alberta F. Boyd on May 2, 1895, in Buncombe County, North Carolina. They had two daughters: Caryl Lucille Fuller Teal (1901-1944), wife of Willoughby Thomas Teal, and Goldie M. Fuller. After Alberta’s decease in 1906, Dr. Fuller married Lavinia Alma Carter on September 18, 1907, in Petersburg, Virginia.

Dr. William Thomas Fuller passed away on February 5, 1921, from complications of chronic nephritis. He was buried on February 8, 1921, in Oak Lawn Cemetery by the Baker B. Elliott Funeral Company.

The William Thomas Fuller Family gravestone, Oak Lawn Cemetery, Suffolk, Virginia. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, June 5, 2011. All rights reserved.

The Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation

Preserving African American History of Suffolk, Virginia with Integrity

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