By the time of his death Sunday, Bill Brittain had written in the history of Raleigh a legacy of generosity and help to families that could be matched by few. He died at 77, but his accomplishments would have satisfied several lifetimes.
Always upbeat, smiling, and quick with banter, Brittain founded Lutheran Family Services of the Carolinas in 1976. It became the largest such agency in the state and certainly one with the most services, particularly for children. Brittain established what he called a no reject/no eject policy, helping families with everything from adoption (including international adoption) to refugee settlement to group homes to help for children with behavioral problems and HIV.
He was a go-to source for churches and for virtually every organization associated with helping children in North Carolina and in the United States, for that matter.
Brittain gave of himself without hesitation. His was the most generous of spirits.
His family noted in his obituary that Brittain was survived not by just his immediate and extended family but also by foster children and all the children he assisted in one way or another over more than 40 years.
Born in Hickory, he was involved in the care-for-others business from his youth, when his mother opened the first nursing home in Catawba County. Brittain attained the most noble of educations in the School of Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill, one of the finest such schools in the United States. He was chosen as one of its most outstanding alumni, and no wonder.
A community, be it a city or a state or a country, must have people such as Bill Brittain to survive and to prosper and to make it aware of the inequities in society and the need to help others. He did his part, and then some.