Mr. Frank Dixon “Dick” Underwood, age 85, of North Wilkesboro died Saturday, December 29, 2012, at Wilkes Regional Medical Center.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, January 3, 2012 at 3:00 PM, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wilkesboro with Father John Shields and Father Bob McCloskey officiating. Burial will be in the church cemetery. The family will receive at the Parish House following the service.
Mr. Underwood was born in Wilkes County, October 19, 1927, to B. R. and Frances Hendren Underwood. He was a life long member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Mr. Underwood served in the US Navy during the Korean War. He graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1950 after studying journalism. He served as the news editor for The Rocky Mount Evening Telegram. Mr. Underwood served as the US Navy Magazine editor in Washington, DC, from 1952 until 1955. In 1955, he joined the Foreign Service of the US Information Agency and served in Jakarta, Indonesia, in charge of publications from 1955 until 1958. From 1958 until 1960, he trained in Japanese language studies before being assigned to Kanazawa, Japan, in 1960 as director of the American Cultural Center. In 1963, Mr. Underwood was transferred to the US Embassy in Tokyo as assistant cultural affairs officer. He returned to Indonesia in 1968. He served as the cultural attaché working with faculty and staff of all thirty universities in Indonesia. In 1973, Mr. Underwood became the US Cultural Affairs officer in Japan. He worked with visiting US diplomats and prominent Americans, including Zbigniew Brzenzski, noted author James Michener and newscaster Walter Cronkite. In 1978, he was posted to the South Pacific to evaluate the status of developing nations there, including Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Mr. Underwood later served as acting US Ambassador to countries in the South Pacific. He retired from the Foreign Service in 1981 and returned with his wife Jean to Wilkesboro. He assumed the position of editor of the Journal Patriot shortly after returning to Wilkes. He served as editor until 1991. In 1995, Mr. Underwood began writing the history of Wilkesboro. This project is near completion and will be published in two volumes in the near future. It is a detailed account of the development of Wilkesboro beginning prior to the arrival of early settlers through the present day. Numerous Wilkesboro residents and former residents have assisted with this project.
Friends and family members remember Dick for his many positive qualities. He was a very concerned and effective public citizen, giving time and energy to a variety of causes, including the library, Kiwanis, the Town of Wilkesboro, and the Wilkes Art Gallery. Dick was an accomplished photographer, a talented painter, a good cook, and a lover of fine art, music, and drama. His intellect, sense of humor, and social consciousness will be missed.
Mr. Underwood is survived by his wife Jean Craig Ohlund Underwood of the home.
Flowers will be accepted or memorials may be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, PO Box 95, Wilkesboro, NC 28697.
Pallbearers will be Buddy Forester, John Myers, David Myers, Joe Fesperman, Doug Merritt, Julius Hubbard, Bob Skees, and Jim Smoak.