Planting Seeds for Future Generations

Planned Gift Supports Causes in Perpetuity

William Horace Barnhardt grew up on a farm in rural North Carolina, where he learned to make crops and animals grow and prosper. As a man, Bill took those lessons and made the world his garden, in which he cultivated both his business and his community.

Born in 1903 in the Rocky River section of Cabarrus County, Bill rose every day to do his morning chores: caring for the animals and working in the fields. It was difficult and demanding labor, but he enjoyed making things grow.

“It was more than just wanting things to grow. He also wanted to share what he had grown,” said his son David Barnhardt. “Generosity was the way he lived his life.”


Successful Textile Executive

After graduating from Rocky River High, he attended North Carolina State College in Raleigh, where he studied textiles. He worked for a variety of textile companies before joining with his brother Charlie to form Barnhardt Brothers Company and, along with business associate George Wilcox, founded the Tryon Processing Company to produce space-dyed yarns.

In the ensuing years, Bill expanded Barnhardt Brothers Company globally and purchased a part interest in Southern Webbing Mills, which made elastic products for clothing and other items.



Throughout his life, Bill gave time and expertise to a variety of charitable causes. He believed that his faith was essential for his success and he served as a deacon, an elder and as Vice Moderator of the Session for the Myers Park Presbyterian Church.

He also worked hard to ensure that children and young adults would have what they needed to succeed in school and life. He served on boards and committees for K-12 schools as well as institutions of higher education, such as Queens University of Charlotte and Johnson C. Smith University.

Remembering his own youth in rural North Carolina, Bill actively worked with the Boy Scouts of America to bring rustic knowledge and a sense of community to young men. Even now, scouts from the Central Piedmont Council reap the benefits of Bill’s hard work. He was the principal fundraiser for Camp John J. Barnhardt, a 500-acre camp overlooking Lake Badin. 


An Enduring Legacy

William H Barnhard

William H Barnhardt’s contributions to our community are honored in Legacy Hall in the Luski-Gorelick Center for Philanthropy.

When Foundation For The Carolinas was formed in 1958, Bill was a charter board member. And when he passed away, his estate created five endowment funds with FFTC. The William H. Barnhardt Endowment Funds provide permanent income to four charitable organizations: the Boy Scouts of America, Mecklenburg County Council; the YMCA of Greater Charlotte; the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC; and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. A donor advised fund was also created to benefit a broad range of charitable purposes.

To Bill, sharing what he had – be it his experience or his wealth, his time or his faith – was the measure of his life and proof that he had grown something right and good. That was his true joy, and his community continues to reap the benefits.


Jennifer (she/her) is Vice President, Marketing Operations at FFTC. She lives with her family in Huntersville and volunteers with PFLAG Charlotte.