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Willa Rae Sloane Cox: Ocean Isle Beach

1930 – 2022

     Willa Rae Sloane Cox of Ocean Isle Beach passed away on Aug. 24 at the age of 92.

     She was preceded by her father Joseph F. Boyd, mother Lula Mae Hardee, first husband George A. Sloane Jr., and second husband Connor F. Cox, and her two brothers Paul Hardee and Gene Hardee.

     She is survived by her three children, George A. (Tripp) Sloane III and wife Sharon, Debbie Sloane Smith, Pamela S. Yoho and husband Bobby; two stepchildren, Steve Cox and wife Bonnie, Kerry Cox Craig and husband Johnny; one sister, Sonya Hardee and her two sons Tim and Kevin; one brother, Cary Hardee and his daughter Blake Campbell; 15 grandchildren, Charles Fox, Whitney Sauls, Paige Sloane, Leah Peterson, Cortney Brazil, George Sloane, Eric Sloane, Chris Bryan, Amanda Knott, Lauren Carlson, Adrienne Fay, Sylvia Craig, Jay Craig, Steve Cox, and Alexis Hayes; and 15 great-grandchildren.

     Rae was born in Horry County near Loris in 1930. She grew up on a farm with no electricity and no indoor running water. She graduated from Loris High School in 1947 and went to Columbia Business School in Columbia where she met her first husband George A. Sloane Jr. They married in 1949 and shortly thereafter moved to Ocean Isle Beach in June of 1955 becoming the first permanent residents of the island for 15 years.

     She and her husband George started Sloane Realty, selling real estate and renting beach cottages on Ocean Isle Beach. They built the Ocean Isle Motel (now Ocean Isle Inn) in 1959. They worked together growing these businesses until George’s untimely death in 1971 in a car accident.

     Rae trained her teenage children to assist her in running the family business after his death. Several years later, she met and married Conner F. Cox from Guideway and embraced his two children, Steve and Kerry Cox, as her own. Her second husband Connor passed away in 2008.

     She was always very active in her community and a member of Bethel Primitive Baptist Church in Calabash. She was the first Town Clerk for the Town of Ocean Isle Beach. She was a founding member of the South Brunswick Island Chamber of Commerce. Rae supported the South Brunswick Island Committee of 100 by donating land to begin the Park on NC 130.

     She was honored by the vacation rental industry as a recipient of the Vacation Rental Women Pioneer Award at the Vacation Rental Managers Intel Women’s Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was named a “Remarkable Woman of Brunswick County” by the NC Senate. She was a very generous person and assisted many people in need, almost always anonymously.

     Rae’s hobby was traveling. She travelled extensively with her children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, and close friends.

     In lieu of flowers, please send remembrances to the Habitat for Humanity, Hope Harbor Home, or Bethel Primitive Baptist Church.

     Funeral services were planned for 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28 at Brunswick Funeral Service, Shallotte, interment following in Brunswick Memorial Gardens.

     Visitation was planned for the hour preceding the service at the funeral home.

     A guest register is available here.