Christmas Happiness: Wink’s Bunch honors members who have passed

Published 11:48 pm Thursday, December 5, 2019

SALISBURY — The Wink’s Bunch has done it again, putting their hearts and wallets together for the Christmas Happiness Fund.

A core group of guys — sometimes women, too — meet at Wink’s  restaurant on Faith Road for breakfast most every morning.

Many people float in and out of the group, which has been meeting for more than 30 years, but current regulars and alumni alike like look forward to a Wink’s Bunch Christmas party every December, and that cherished gathering took place Thursday morning.

The 15 people in attendance passed the hat and raised $110 for Christmas Happiness.

It was done in memory of Wink’s Bunch members who have passed on.

Wayne Kennerly, a faithful participant and unofficial secretary for the group, says the Wink’s Bunch wants to memorialize 17 late friends: Victor Farrah, Jim West, Jack Owen, Don Bills, Jerry Barger, Charles Deadwyler, Gene Auten, Sonny Epting, Dick Earnhardt, Walt Sebastian, John Stegall, Pete Brown, Dick Smith, Mike McCowan, Harold Earnhardt, Jim Epting and Bill Shives.

The Wink’s Bunch started out at the former Wink’s Barbecue on East Innes Street when local officials with Piedmont Natural Gas, such as Stegall and Wayne Hayworth, began having breakfast meetings with industrial development folks that included the Epting brothers.

It was an attempt at business networking that quickly led to strong friendships and many golf outings, usually organized by the late Auten and Stegall.

The group has had upward of 60 people who have been Wink’s Bunchers over time.

Only Hayworth from the original Piedmont Natural Gas contingent attended Thursday’s Christmas breakfast. Kenerly reports that Jerry Womack and his wife, Carol, traveled the farthest distance, coming from Raleigh.

While former Salisbury car dealer Brad Farrah, who now lives in Florida, could not attend, he sent a generous donation to the Wink’s Bunch, Kennerly said.

The Christmas Happiness Fund assists families in need during the holidays so they can buy Christmas gifts for their children. The fund was started 67 years ago by a Salisbury Post editor as a way to help the less fortunate in the community. The Salisbury Post collects donations, and the Salvation Army distributes the money to local families.

Contributions to the Christmas Happiness Fund may be delivered to the Salisbury Post, 131 W. Innes St., between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or mailed to Salisbury Post Christmas Happiness Fund, P.O. Box 4639, Salisbury, NC 28145-4639. Make checks payable to Christmas Happiness and indicate how you want your donation listed.

Today’s donations are:

Ken and Gloria Cartrett, $100
In memory of Jay and Bill and in honor of Peggy by Stephen and Martha, $35
In memory of John Ervin Bame by Sarah Bame, $25
In memory of Ed Dupree by Bitsy and family, $100
In honor and memory of all U.S. military veterans by the Faith American Legion Junior Auxiliary Unit 327, $225
Anonymous, $25
Jim and Nina Burton, $100
In honor of the Charles F. Fisher Chapter No. 73, Children of the Confederacy, from the Robert F. Hoke Chapter No. 78, United Daughters of the Confederacy, $25
In memory of Julia and Dewey Miller by Judy Miller, $20
Alex and Donna Kruchkow, $200
The Carson family, $1,000
The Wink’s Bunch, $110
In memory of John H. Bumgarner, MD, by the Eagle Heights Meet and Eat Women, $95
Today’s total: $2,060
Running total: $9,741.33