Woodberry Remembers William J. Armfield IV ’52

Lauded in The Fir Tree in 1952 for his “French cuffs and pastels” and his wonderful sense of humor, William Johnston Armfield IV, known to one and all as Billy, made a distinct mark on Woodberry as a student and as an alumnus throughout his long and successful life. Mr. Armfield died at his home in Richmond, Virginia, on July 11, 2016.

“Billy was a Woodberry titan,” said Headmaster Byron Hulsey ’86. “He was, quite simply, one of the most committed, generous, wise, and devoted leaders in the Woodberry community. We will miss him dearly.”

Born in Asheboro, North Carolina, Mr. Armfield came to Woodberry from Greensboro in 1948. He was a member of the monitor board and the German club who captained the varsity soccer team and played golf and varsity football.

He went on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned a degree in business administration and, later in life, chaired its board of trustees and was co-chair of its bicentennial campaign. He served in the US Army for two years. After receiving an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1962, he launched a highly successful career in the textile industry, including service as president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. He worked as vice-president for marketing for the Madison Throwing Company. He later launched Macfield Texturing Company, which merged with Unifi, Inc., a leading processor of multifilament polyester and nylon textured yarns. He left Unifi in 1996 to found Spotswood Capital, LLC, a private investment firm, where he was president at the time of his death.

Few alumni have ever matched Billy Armfield’s commitment to Woodberry. Over the years, he was a class agent, a reunion chair, and a member of the sixth-form parent committee. He served as national chair of Woodberry’s Centennial campaign, and more recently, as vice-chair of the Our Strong Band campaign effort. He was also a dedicated trustee, serving between 1978 and 1984 and again between 1992 and 2001. During his second term on the board, he chaired its investment committee. He received the Distinguished Service Award in 1989, was a member of the On My Honor committee, and received the J. Carter Walker Award, the school’s highest honor, in 2015. At Woodberry, Armfield Hall is named for the Armfield family, who are among the school’s most generous supporters. 

Mr. Armfield is survived by his wife, Jane Hall Armfield; his children and stepchildren, Walker Armfield Wilson, William Claiborne Hancock ’92, James Cole Braxton Hancock ’95, Caroline Carter Hancock Johnston, Alston Armfield Daigh, William Spotswood Armfield ’07, Nicholas Cabell Armfield, and Olivia Corbin Armfield; his grandchildren; and his sister, Sallie Armfield McMillion.  
Woodberry Forest admits students of any race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, and national or ethnic origin to all of the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs. The school is authorized under federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.