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Randy Mullis of Carrboro, NC passed away at home after a brief battle with cancer. He leaves behind his wife of 41 years, Robin, and daughters Anna and Caroline and their respective husbands, Chris and Jared. Randy also leaves behind family members through marriage and a close community of friends.
Randy overcame a difficult childhood to become a remarkable man who lived daily with gratitude and generosity toward others. His mother, Virginia and father, Ray both struggled with substance abuse until their early deaths, as did his estranged brother, Steve. Although he could have taken a similar path, Randy vowed to abstain from alcohol and drug use.
The difficulties of his childhood were eased by a deep love shown to Randy by his mother and grandmother, Vivian. His mother introduced him to the Christian faith, which was constant throughout his life and strengthened him in times of uncertainty and struggle. Randy’s grandmother had a formative influence on him. Her unconditional love and daily acts of care, such as washing his clothes and preparing meals, provided comfort and stability in an otherwise chaotic environment. She also taught him right from wrong and the benefit of hard work. A close high school friend introduced Randy to her family, the Troxlers, who informally adopted and embraced him as a son and brother. The supportive love of the matriarch (Aileen Troxler, who is 106 years old) endured throughout his lifetime.
While in high school, Randy participated in several sports and his coaches played a significant role in his life. Through tough practices on the football field and rigorous track workouts, he developed a commitment to fitness and formed a critical guiding belief - no matter how challenging the circumstances, anyone can improve their life through hard work and dedication.
Admiration for Dean Smith and his legendary basketball program led Randy to attend UNC-Chapel Hill where he earned a BA in Education and an MS in Library Science. The introduction to computers during his graduate degree sparked an interest in emerging technology and he returned to school at NC State, earning a BS in Computer Science. This led to a successful 30-year career at SAS Institute.
While at Carolina, Randy met his wife, Robin. He and Robin forged a deep love that became the foundation of a marriage of mutual respect and growth. They enjoyed running, laughing, dancing, and worshiping together. Randy often brought Robin flowers simply because he knew she loved them. The most important and enduring gift they shared were their daughters. Randy was an involved father, spending lots of time with his girls. When they were young, he created lasting memories through individual outings with them that he called “special time”. He also shared his love of music, introducing them to the artists and songs of his youth.
Randy had an encyclopedic knowledge of trivia and offered his talents to Anna, joining her in Greensboro to participate in “trivia nights” with her and her college friends. He was a huge fan of black and white movies, and happily shared his love of classics with his daughters. He introduced Caroline to the Thin Man film series and together they enjoyed getting lost in the mysteries and delighting in the banter between the husband-and-wife detective team. The time Randy devoted to Anna and Caroline helped them foster an appreciation of beauty, a lifelong love of learning, and an enthusiasm for celebrating life’s many joys.
Randy embraced running as one of his main forms of fitness. He ran 10 marathons, many half-marathons and a variety of other races. Through the Fleet Feet training program, he mentored pace groups and made many friends. “Runcations” became a part of life with Robin, and with friends they traveled to numerous destinations to run races. Randy was a devoted member at O2 Fitness. He started the day with classes such as GRIT, Body Pump and Body Combat and became friends with many members and instructors. A friend later introduced Randy to Pure Barre and he quickly incorporated these classes into his exercise regimen. He attended multiple classes weekly and, in a span of 5 years, achieved the milestone of 1000 classes. He developed lasting relationships with his 6am PB crew.
Randy was deeply sentimental. For many years, he kept an unopened 3 Musketeers candy bar that Caroline gave him on his home office desk. He valued emotional vulnerability and was easily moved to tears while listening to a song or watching a commercial. He was very passionate and often said, about any given thing that brought him joy, “that is the best thing ever” (even if it was a neon toy football from Dollar General). Randy loved to make lists, so it feels right to pay tribute to this ritual with a list of some of his favorite things:
• Hot Wheels, his carbon blue 2004 Toyota Celica, and cars from every era (especially those from the 1950’s)
• Charles Schultz and the Peanuts characters he created
• Superhero comic books and action figures, particularly Batman and Batgirl
• All Apple products (including a Macintosh that he purchased in the late ‘80s)
• Three Musketeers, Peppermint Patties, and frozen yogurt
• The soft drinks Tab and Diet Dr. Pepper
• Rocky Balboa
• Classic horror and suspense such as The Twilight Zone, Hitchcock, and Boris Karloff monster movies
• The world created by J.R.R. Tolkien
• Speculating on historical conspiracy theories
• The majesty of large and small cats
• Bob Dylan and his brilliant songwriting (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album was playing when he passed away)
Randy lived his life with an unwavering idealism and optimism. It was infectious, and inspired others to look for silver linings, small joys, and treat everyone with compassion and respect. He made an immediate and lasting impression on those who had the opportunity to meet him, and the impact he made on his family and friends will endure.
All are welcome to a service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for Randy on Sunday, April 16, 2:00 pm at the Chapel Hill Carriage House, (3110 Jones Ferry Road, Chapel Hill) in an outdoor chapel or the covered barn if it rains. A reception will follow the service. Because Randy loved bright colors, we would like for guests to wear semi-casual, colorful clothing.
In lieu of flowers, for those who would like to make a contribution in Randy’s honor, we suggest the following organizations:
Brave Like Gabe - https://www.bravelikegabe.org/
Girls on the Run Triangle - https://www.gotrtriangle.org/
The Ben L. Smith High School Football Fundraiser - https://www.blastathletics.com/teams/76763/sponsors/new
Donations may also be made in Randy's honor to the general scholarship fund at Ben L. Smith High School and must be made payable and sent to: Ben L. Smith High School, 2407 S. Holden Rd., Greensboro, NC 27407.
Sunday, April 16, 2023
Starts at 2:00pm (Eastern time)
Chapel Hill Carriage House
The service will be held in the covered barn if it rains...
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