One of Wilkes County’s best known former moonshiners dies at 73

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At a 2009 gathering, Millard Ashley, Willie Clay Call and Junior Johnson (from left) swapped stories. In his later years, Call had served as a link to the past. (Credit: David Rolfe/JOURNAL)

WILKESBORO, N.C. — One of Wilkes County’s best-known former moonshiners was buried Monday.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported that Willie Clay Call of North Wilkesboro died Friday at his home. He was 73.

He died a farmer, but back in the day, Call ran moonshine like his father and grandfather and his lifelong friend, Junior Johnson, who was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.

Back in the 1960s, Call liked to take his 1955 Ford out on the North Wilkesboro Speedway during practice.

“Story he always told people was he outran Fred Lorenzen on several occasions while out practicing,” said Steve Wilson of the preservation group Save the Speedway, according to the Journal.

Call and Johnson lent a car and copper still to the Reynolda House Museum of American Art for an exhibit on moonshining in 2002. Call provided a car for filming when the Wilkes Playmakers needed video footage as part of a play about Johnson.

And he provided moonshining items for the Wilkes Heritage Museum in the old county courthouse.

Read more: The Winston-Salem Journal.