William Harris (“Willie”) McRae of Ellerbe, North Carolina, and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina,
passed away Thursday, April 2, 2020. Willie was 65 years old. He was the son of the late Harris McKinnon and Nancy Thomas McRae. He was owner and president of Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, SC, and president of McRae Produce. Willie was a former owner of Ellerbe Springs Inn and Restaurant, and Ellerbe Lumber Company, both in Ellerbe, NC.
Willie was a 1972 graduate of Oak Ridge Military Institute. He also attended Sandhills Community College in Southern Pines, NC.
In 1972, he assumed management of Boone Hall Plantation, and guided the plantation to become a favorite attraction for visitors to Charleston, SC. He brought concerts, festivals and sporting events to the plantation, with the entertainment and enjoyment of the people in the Mt. Pleasant and Charleston area as his goal. Many of these events benefited charities. Willie was recognized for his tourism and agritourism successes.
This year, Willie received the Order of the Palmetto from the Governor of the State of South Carolina which is the highest award that can be granted to an individual. This recognition flowed from the conservation easement granted to the Low County Land Trust by Boone Hall Plantation LP. This easement restricts future development of the entire tract of the land owned by Boone Hall and assures that its current activities can continue in perpetuity. Willie McRae and his sister, Elizabeth McRae, were responsible for the creation of this grant.
An avid sportsman, Willie loved hunting ducks and upland birds and always looked forward to deer season and off-shore fishing trips.
Willie was a respected businessman and beloved friend to many. He is survived by a sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth McRae and husband, Finn Petersen, and numerous cousins.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Memorials may be made to Ellerbe United Methodist Church, PO Box 340, Ellerbe, NC 28338.
The family expresses deep gratitude to Dr. Andy Arnold, MD, Dr. Gene Saylors, MD, Dr. Mary Decker, MD, and to Hospice of Mt. Pleasant, SC, and caregiver, Teresa Rauth