Wilson native Howard Monroe Fitts Jr. passed away 30 January 2023 in Durham, North Carolina, at age 101. Dr. Fitts was a Professor Emeritus at North Carolina Central University and a widely recognized public health advocate.
In 1994, Dr. Fitts sat for an interview for Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies’ Behind the Veil Oral History Project. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the project aimed to record and preserve the living memory of African American life during the era of legal segregation in the American South. Dr. Fitts’ interview, which can be found here, richly explored his upbringing in Wilson in the 1920s and ’30s.
Rest in peace, Dr. Fitts.
Praise be to God for his life and legacy. Ameen.
Several years ago, I was talking to my father about Wilson history and families and asked a question that stumped him. He immediately said, “Let’s call Howard Fitts. You can ask him.” We called, and I chatted with Mr. Fitts for a while about some cousins I was trying to trace forward. He is one of a long list of people that I regret not doing more to maintain contact with. Such a rich well of knowledge. May he rest in peace.
I knew him as Uncle Howard. Technically we were cousins, but my mother, Ella Elizabeth Battle Beckett lived with his family in Wilson for many years to attend school. He and his sister, Rosemary, were more like brother and sister to my mom who was an only child. Uncle Howard shared many stories with me of North Carolina history and of Wilson in particular. He was a true gentleman and scholar. I miss him already.
My condolences to the Fitts-Battle family. My father greatly admired him.
I’ve admired Uncle Howard for his intelligence, achievements and kindness. His gentle spirit made me feel blessed whenever I was in his company. He was and always will be a great source of inspiration and aspiration. Bill