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WILMINGTON, N.C. -- W. Cecil Worsley Jr., a pioneer in convenience and petroleum retailing throughout North and South Carolina, died in Wilmington, N.C. Tuesday after a brief illness, according to a report by StarNewsOnline.com.
For 40 years, Worsley was president and CEO of what became the Worsley Cos., an enterprise that grew from a few small-town gas stations into a network of more than 140 convenience stores and related businesses, with more than 1,000 employees.
"Cecil was one the top marketers from way back when -- jobbers, they used to call them," Gary Harris, director of the North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association, told the newspaper. Worsley, 82, served as the state association's president in the early 1990s, Harris said, and in 1996 received its highest honor, the Will Parker Memorial Award.
Born Oct. 23, 1925, Walter Cecil Worsley Jr. was the son of Walter Cecil Worsley and Pearl Southerland Worsley. Worsley Sr. was a jobber based in Wallace, N.C. for what was then American Oil Co. In 1946, the younger Worsley launched an oil company of his own, consisting of one service station and a warehouse. This business proved successful enough that he added a gas station and warehouse within a year, the report stated.
In 1954, Worsley succeeded his father as president of Worsley Oil Co. Then, in 1956, he launched a separate company, Twin Petroleum, as a distributor for Esso products. Under Worsley's leadership, the company began acquiring other oil companies in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Florida -- eventually controlling 12 satellite companies in all.
In 1974, noting changes in the retail market, Worsley and his company decided to convert their existing service stations into convenience stores. Bill Hussey, an employee, won an in-house contest to suggest a name for the stores, coming up with "Scotchman." The first Scotchman opened for business in Maple Hill that year, the newspaper reported.
In 1980, Worsley opened a corporate office in Wilmington. A new headquarters opened three years later. In 1985, the company branched into the truck stop business, eventually owning two in North Carolina, one in South Carolina and two in Florida.
In 1994, Worsley was succeeded as president and CEO by his son, Walter Cecil Worsley III. He retained the title of chairman of the board. The following year, the company decided to consolidate, selling properties in Tennessee and Florida. It kept a chain of Scotchman Stores, as well as Young's Food Stores, S-E Food Marts, a transport company and its proprietary fuel line, Carolina Petro, according to StarNewsOnline.com.
Worsley is survived by his wife, Nancy Blackwelder Worsley; one brother, Donald Worsley of Elizabethtown, N.C.; three children; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Burial is planned at Oleander Memorial Gardens.
The family suggests donations to Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCareCenter. Andrews Mortuary is handling arrangements, and condolences may be sent to the family through its Web site, www.andrewsmortuary.com, the newspaper stated.