A while back, career UPS worker Lee Pulley delivered a package to a residence in Raleigh and then continued on his way. Three days later, he noticed the package still perched on the front stoop.
Rather than drive off, telling himself it was not his business to worry about it, he got out of his truck and knocked on the door. When it was clear no one was going to answer, he called 911. The woman inside had been in a diabetic coma.
“It was his action that perhaps saved her life,” said Harvey Horton, a neighbor who watched this unfold. “It was that incident that made me really befriend him.”
Pulley, a Garner resident, began working as a loader for the United Parcel Service in his junior year of high school. He was 17 years old, an aspiring artist, and loved fixing up old cars. Enjoyment in the company, along with a sense of practicality, persuaded him to choose a career with UPS, and to keep art and cars as hobbies.
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Loved ones say it wouldn’t have mattered what Pulley chose to do with his life, he would have brought the same cheer, the same concern for his fellow man, regardless of how he spent his days.
Pulley, 52, died this year in a motorcycle accident.
It was a February morning, the after Dean Smith’s death, when attorney Spurgeon Fields heard a radio news broadcast about a Raleigh man killed in a motorcycle accident. He hoped it wasn’t Pulley, who he knew had recently splurged on a motorcycle after years of wanting one.
“Knowing him, he probably tried to miss an animal or something,” Fields said. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Fields said men like Pulley – those who add more to life than they take – deserve as much recognition as men like Smith.
Pulley was born in Wake County, the oldest of three children. He showed concern for others, particularly the elderly, even as a child, said his mother Virginia Horton. On his newspaper route, he made sure to get off his green Schwinn bicycle and walk the papers to the front step for his older clients.
He had the same upbeat personality as a child as well.
“He just kind of drew people in. It was a magnetic personality, a light-up-the-room smile,” Horton said.
His smile would become a trademark of sorts, something many who knew him will miss the most.
“His smile was infectious, and it was a constant,” said Fred Fuller, business manager of the UPS Raleigh metro center.
It was a smile he shared with everyone, whether the homeless man he passed on the street or the attorney whose counsel he sought.
“My father was truly universal,” said his daughter Jessyca Pulley. “It didn’t really matter your background, he treated you the same way.”
Never a bad day
Pulley was the sort of deliveryman who took the time to learn about his clients’ lives. He asked how they were, and always wished them well. He respectfully complimented the women on his route, and would go so far as to check on those he knew could use some extra care, even when off the clock.
Pulley loved to cook, and preferred healthy foods like couscous and vegetables. He packed himself breakfast and lunch for work, and also a sandwich for a dog he knew to be hungry at times.
“He always had a smile, he always had a positive outlook on everything, no matter how bad my day was,” girlfriend Brandy Hopkins said. “It was great. It was never a bad day. He was a great communicator.”
Pulley and Hopkins had planned to marry next month.
She said an early night for him meant returning home around 8 p.m., but it wasn’t unusual him to extend his day to up a prescription for a customer who was home-bound.
He showed the same care and concern for his family.
When Pulley’s youngest daughter, Aliah Pulley, was 9, he secured full custody to ensure she had more stability in her life. He was concerned that she was being moved around a lot, and was falling behind academically.
“He wanted me to be stable and actually stay at one school,” Aliah Pulley said. She was able to finally make friends, and he arranged for extra tutoring. She eventually skipped the eighth grade and got back on track.
“My dad gave me the chance to catch up,” she said.
Rentals, old cars
Loved ones say Pulley was simply a decent, upstanding citizen whose deep sense of responsibility to his community set him apart from the masses. He took pride in his rental properties, and gave people a break on their rent when he could. He fixed up cars as a side business, and his body shop was immaculate.
A few years ago, Pulley was ticketed for allegedly rolling through a stop sign. He knew that the sign had restricted visibility. It was something most would have complained about without fighting, but it prompted Pulley to seek Fields’ legal counsel. Pulley fought the charge — with a smile — and won.
“He was the most respectful human being I've ever met in my life,” Fields said. “Although we were close in age he always called me Mr. Fields.”
Fields said he wept when he heard about Pulley’s death.
“I’m sure he never thought about getting anything back – ever.”
Allison Lee Pulley
Born: Oct. 20, 1962, in Wake County.
Family: Has two daughters, Jessyca Pulley of Atlanta and Aliah Pulley of Raleigh, as well as two grandchildren. He was engaged to be married to Brandy Hopkins of Garner in May.
Education: Graduates from Enloe High School in Raleigh in 1980.
Career: Began working at UPS as a loader while a junior in high school, eligible for retirement in three more years at age 55. He also owned rental properties and fixed up old cars as a side business.
Died: Feb. 8, in Raleigh.