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November 08, 2011

USA Archery Remembers Wilburn Wooten

From the Winston-Salem Journal: 


Winston Salem, NC - James Wilburn Wooten, a well respected and much beloved champion in the field of Olympic style archery passed away on Sunday, November 6th of complications from heart surgery.

He was North Carolina's archery champion for many years running and a frequent finalist in the Olympic tryouts. Even after retiring from competition for several years, many of his world records still stand and the trophies accumulated from a lifetime of competition by he and his wife Ruby of 62 years (herself a respected Olympic style archer) once filled the entire attic of their home.

He was a coach and mentor to many in the sport and was a Pro Staff shooter for Hoyt Archery for several years. He was also close personal friends with legendary bow maker Earl Hoyt and his wife Ann until their passing and frequently received early prototypes and early productions of Earl's bows for evaluation.

Although right handed, Wilburn shot left handed, a technique he used to relearn archery after "learning to shoot the wrong way the first time".

In addition to his other talents, he was an accomplished guitarist and singer. He and his Martin guitar often provided delightful entertainment in the evenings at archery tournaments, in churches, and at family get togethers. The repertoire of songs he could draw right off the top of his head was astonishing and it was a rare evening when folks didn't request their favorites.

He and his brothers Allen and Rober were avid hunters and fishermen from youth and ranged from the mountains to the coast in search of game. In 1957, he caught the largest Amberjack in NC for that year. Even well into his late 70s Wilburn, his son Jim, and friend Mahlon Pendry would spend 3 weeks a year camping in the Uwharrie mountains, putting up tree stands and bow hunting for deer.

Wilburn was born in Winston-Salem and graduated from Gray High School in 1948 and was active in the drama club there. Wilburn was a big man, 6'4" and a lean 245 lbs with massive hands. After graduation, he boxed for a few years and was a Golden Gloves Boxing champion in North Carolina and drove a tractor trailer for Brown Rogers Dixon. 

He raised his family across the street from his mother in a home that he and his brothers built. He worked at Western Electric as a master machinist until his retirement. Wilburn was brought to the lord by Victor Murchison in the late 40s and attended Winston-Salem Friends meeting until the early 1970s when Forsyth Friends was formed. He helped to build the meeting house there and remained a member there until his passing, often leading the singing, in the choir, and as Sunday school teacher.

People often talk of "the Greatest Generation". Wilburn was the epitome of that generation and all of the lives of those he came in contact with were enriched. He will be deeply missed.

The family will receive friends and relatives from 7-9 PM on Wednesday, November 9th at Salem Funeral Home on S. Main Street, Winston-Salem NC. The funeral will be held at 1 PM on Thursday, November 10th at Forsyth Friends Meeting, 800 Jonestown Road, Winston-Salem NC.

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