The Alford American Family Association
HOME    ·    Databases   ·    Contact Us   ·    Updates     
James Barbee Alford



AAFA #0344

1924 NC – 2004 NC


Photo from The Franklin Times, Louisburg, Franklin Co., NC, 27 October 1990




Raleigh, Wake Co., NC—Friday, 4 June 2004


ZEBULON [Wake Co.]—James Barbee “Hoss” Alford, 79, of 623 Clyde Pearce Rd., the Pilot Community, died Thursday [June 3] at his home.

            Funeral service will be held 3 p.m. Sunday at Pilot Baptist Church. Burial, Upchurch, Alford, Bunn Cemetery…. Arrangements by Strickland Funeral Home, Wendell.


In another article:



Zebulon, Wake Co., NC—Thursday, 3 June 2004



By Michael A. Bell, Staff Writer


PILOT—There has always been a fire burning within James Barbee Alford to provide for his family and his community. But cancer is smothering those flames as “Hoss”—a name that has become synonymous with Pilot and surrounding areas—fights his last battle.

            With deep blue eyes peering into everyone’s heart, the 79-year-old Pilot man now awaits his final call to venture into the heavens. It’s a place he knows he is destined to go. It’s a place he knows he will be well-received.

            Last Wednesday, as oxygen channeled from tubes to his body, Alford remained covered beneath his Pilot Baptist Church embroidered blanket - the church he dedicated his entire life to. Even though his body is slowly succumbing to the effects of kidney cancer, his mind is still sharp and his ability to tell a story is uncanny.

            “I’m fading fast,” said Alford, his weary body resting genially in his home—a place hundreds of his friends and family have frequented as their loved one slips away.

            The doctors gave him three weeks to three months to live. But they don’t know everything, he contends. They claim he will perish soon, but Alford believes he is in God’s hands—for God is the only one who knows when Alford will take his last breath.

            For his Master, Alford doesn’t feel any resentment.

            “It’s not that I’m not ready to go,” he said, struggling. “I’m ready to go. I just hate to leave my family, you know?”

            So far, he said he has not experienced any pain, and the doctors believe he is likely to die in his sleep. On Monday, May 24, he was placed in hospice care.

            With laughs from everyone visiting him last Wednesday, Alford shared stories of his accomplishments in the work force, his gifts and faithfulness to his church and community—memories he will carry to his grave.

            As his quivering hand reached for a tissue to wipe the tears from his eyes, he gazed about the living room full of those who have meant the most to him and smiled at his life—one he calls “impressive.




            Born Dec. 21, 1924, to farming parents Zollie and Lala, it wasn’t until the fourth grade that a childhood friend coined the nickname “Hoss.” He carried the identity throughout school at the former Wakelon School in Zebulon, to his more than 38 years working for the state Department of Transportation, to the present.

            Although the state job didn’t pay that well, it was very important to him—and he made sure he always arrived promptly…. By the time he retired a year’s worth of sick leave was accumulated, and he was credited for more than 39 years of service.

            In the 1950s, chosen from a select few because of his “leadership” abilities, Alford was granted a temporary ob of widening the portion of U.S.64 from Zebulon to Raleigh. The project won him an award….

            From being a member of every committee of Pilot Baptist, to his 50-year on-and-off service to its deacon board, to his singing 60 years in the choir, Hoss Alford was always there. From helping construct the church’s picnic area, to planning practically every July 4th celebration and Pilot Fireman’s Day festivities, Hoss Alford’s guiding hands were needed.

            In 1971, when Bunn High School officials said they didn’t have enough money for an activity bus, Hoss Alford came to the rescue. Organizing a barbecue fund-raiser where students from Bunn Elementary and the high school were each given 10 tickets to sell, the amount raised for the vehicle doubled to $12,000. When someone says it can’t happen, Hoss Alford said me makes it happen.

            As a Franklin County commissioner from 1986 to 1990, Hoss Alford oversaw the inception of a community college, an airport, two senior citizen centers, and a new school in both Youngsville and gold Sand.

            A staunch Democrat in a highly conservative area, Hoss Alford said getting involved in politics was something for which he had a knack. During his days in office, even though he still carried his original nickname, someone also crafted another phrase suiting him to a T.

            “They called me Mr. Democrat,” he said, grinning. “I’d probably have some of my kin roll over (in their graves) if they knew I was a Democrat.”

            As his interest in politics dwindled away, Hoss Alford decided to put his effort into another area he deemed invaluable: the church youths. “It’s the most important thing you could ever do,” he said.

            For the church young people to have all they deserve, Hoss Alford wanted them to have outdoor activities, doing 90 percent of the work for the church’s multiple tennis and basketball courts.

            If there was ever anyone who couldn’t afford a youth activity, Hoss Alford wanted his phone to ring.

            “Let me know,” he would tell them. “I’ll pay their way.”




            In January, doctors found a lump in Hoss Alford’s kidney, son Gus said. It was immediately contained, and the prognosis was positive. However, doctors did not predict the cancer’s likelihood of spreading. And two months later, the disease invaded the rest of Hoss Alford’s body….

            As Hoss Alford fights daily to see another day and breathe another breath, almost 300 get-well cards fill his single-story Clyde-Pearce Road home—hope and daily affirmation that although he will soon be gone, he will never be forgotten.

            Though his time on earth will soon end, Hoss Alford said he has lived a graced life. With two children, sons Jim and Gus, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, and a slew of statewide and community accomplishments, he believes he will be well-received at the gates of heaven.

            “I’m ready to go,” he said, eyes beginning to well with tears. “I just hate to leave my family behind.”

            Wife Merle Alford, 74, is at peace with her husband’s future death. She is battling congestive heart failure, but knows she will be in good hands when Hoss Alford passes….

            Though it is uncertain what day he will die, what is sure is the place he will be buried: the Upchurch-Alford-Bunn cemetery.

            On April 15, 1996, a tornado with wind speeds estimated at 200 mph swept through the Pilot and neighboring communities, damaging or destroying 92 homes and other property, particularly that tree-lined cemetery on Shepard School Road.

            Hoss Alford spent countless hours restoring it, planting 19 Bradford pear trees where tall oaks and pines once stood and other foliage to bring out its historic beauty….

            In April 2003, the Easter Wake News interviewed him after he restored the cemetery gardens. Then, as the Bradford pear tress were in full blossom, he joked when asked about his nickname, sarcastically saying he got the name because he was “so small.”

            But for the many lives he was touched, Hoss Alford’s towering spirit will remain for generations to come.


Photo from Nathaniel Greene Family Cemetery, Pilot, Franklin Co., NC—

Permission granted by the photographer, Dennis Holder


AAFA NOTES: SSDI records confirm the birth and death dates for James B. Alford (SS# issued in NC).

            We included the obituaries of his wife, Merle Bunn Alford; his mother, Lala R. Batchelor Alford; and his brother Floyd Shelby Alford Sr. (AAFA #0271) in North Carolina Obituaries.

            AAFA ACTION, Spring 1999, includes an article written by the daughter of Floyd’s sister Dorothy, describing life on her grandparents’ farm: “Zollie and Lala Alford of Franklin Co., NC,” p. 50. In Fall 1993, an article about James was included in “Alfords in the News.”

            His lineage: James Barbee 1924 NC1, Zollie Floyd 1900 NC2, James Berry 1872 NC3, Berkley Moses 1849 NC4, Kisar 1814 NC5.