Donnie L. Dudley Sr., 87, of Beaufort, passed away after a brief illness Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at his Shell Landing home.
Funeral services, followed by interment, are at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Beaufort. A reception at the Parish House will immediately follow to honor both the memory of Donnie and the late Bitsy Dudley, who died in February at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Donnie was born on September 22, 1934 in Beaufort to Johnnie Davis Dudley and Ruby Peterson Dudley. He attended Beaufort High School and graduated from East Carolina University. Growing-up on the numerous creeks, rivers, and sounds in Coastal Carolina and the surrounding areas gave him a passion for wildlife and his love for the waters and its vast resources of fresh seafood of near endless varieties led him to earn a degree in Marine Biology.
After college he joined the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory on Piver's Island, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA) He authored or co-authored numerous important and groundbreaking scientific research papers on topics including the decline of the Menhaden fisheries and the seasonal abundance and distribution of the blue crab in Core Sound. He captained two NOAA research vessels The Point of Marsh and The Onslow Bay. His research projects also took him to points north including the James River in Virginia, The Chesapeake Bay, and waters off Massachusetts. He retired after more than 30 years of service.
Always an avid hunter and fisherman, in later years Donnie regained a youthful love of golf and was a long-time member of the Morehead City Country Club. He also found enjoyment in mastering a motorcycle; collecting decoys; and dancing and traveling with his wife Bitsy.
Donnie was a longtime member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Beaufort, where he served on the Vestry and was involved in organizations such as Ducks Unlimited.
He is survived by son, Donnie “Don” Dudley Jr; his sister, Debbie Dudley Byrd; and nephew, Jamie Byrd.
Donnie was preceded in death by his parents and wife of more than sixty years, Bitsy Brooks Dudley.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the charity of your choice.
Arrangements by Noe-Brooks Funeral Home, Morehead City, NC. Condolences and life tributes may be sent to the family at www.noebrooks.net.