Opp businessman, Spirit of Opportunity winner dies

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For nearly six decades, Willie Lester “Bill” Pugh has been a jewel to retail in downtown Opp.

Now, residents are mourning the loss of Pugh, who died last Wednesday.

He was 91.

Bill Pugh, owner of Opp’s Covington Jewelers, passed away last week. He is shown at last May’s Opp Chamber of Commerce membership banquet, where he was awarded the Spirit of Opportunity award for his time as a retailer in the city. | File photo

Pugh, the owner of Covington Jewelers, was honored at last year’s Opp Chamber of Commerce membership banquet with the Spirit of Opportunity Award.

“Mr. Pugh was not only a wonderful businessman, but he was a wonderful, heartfelt person,” said Emilee Gage, of the chamber. “Bill Pugh was, and will always be, an example of success in the ‘City of Opportunity.’”

Pugh has been active in Opp business since age 14, when he worked as a delivery boy for a grocery store in downtown Opp.

He was in the United States Navy from 1942 until 1945, when he returned to Opp and purchased the Pure Food Store.

In 1953, he purchased a gift shop in the present day location of Covington Jewelers.

Opp Mayor H.D. Edgar said Pugh was his neighbor for many years.

“He has maintained a business in Opp for nearly 60 years,” he said. “He has been a good business man and asset to the community. He was always kind, outgoing and willing to help anyone who needed help. We’re certainly going to miss him. He was a pillar of the community, and Opp will miss him greatly.”

Funeral services for Pugh were held Friday at 2 p.m. at Wyatt Funeral Home.