There have been quite a few heroes who were born or lived in Greensboro — Levi Coffin in the earliest days; in the 20th century, Rick and Wes Ferrell, the A&T Four and Ron McNair; and more recently, Joey Cheek and Loretta Lynch, to name a few. Among the greatest were George and Bill Preddy, the World War II fighter pilots who grew up in Dunleath. George was a barnstorming pilot-turned-flying ace and totally fit the part with his Clark Gable mustache and brilliant smile. He was the top P-51 Mustang ace of the war, credited with 26.83 enemy air-to-air victories (including two shared victories). Younger brother Bill followed George into the European theatre. He, too, proved himself an outstanding fighter pilot and was honored as one of the liberators of Czechoslovakia.
Today, their family’s home at 605 Park Avenue is a beautifully restored little bungalow. Their father, George, was a Southern Railway conductor. He and his wife, Clara, had the house built in 1920; Clara sold it after his death 52 years later. Last week, It was put up for sale again. The owners accepted an offer in two days. The asking price was $199,900.
The house may not be so different from what it was when George and Bill were boys. There are three bedrooms and still just one bathroom. A side porch has been enclosed. The kitchen has been renovated, of course. The entire house is in outstanding condition.
George E. Preddy Sr. (1889-1972) bought the property in 1919. The house is dated 1920 in county records, but George apparently rented the house out until 1928. He and his family lived first across the street at 610 Park with his parents, George M. and Sarah, and his younger siblings Dale and Irene, and later rented the house at 607 Park.
Fate was brutal to George and Clara (1893-1974). They had three children, and they outlived them all. Their eldest, daughter Jonnice Carolyn, died in 1939 at age 21.
George (1919-1944) and Bill (1924-1945) are memorialized by a foundation established by a cousin. About George, in particular, there’s much to say. He shot down six German planes in one day (the colorful details of that mission, particularly George’s physical condition that day, are worth reading). On another mission, he downed four. When his 200-flying-hour tour of duty ended, he requested an extension of 50 flying hours. Then, a second extension, a third and a fourth. George’s military honors included the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star with bronze oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with silver and bronze oak leaf clusters and Air Medal with a silver and a bronze oak leaf cluster. He died in the Battle of the Bulge on Christmas Day 1944, downed by friendly fire while chasing a German fighter.
Bill’s death is just as painful to think about. He was shot down over Czechoslovakia on his fighter group’s final mission of the war, April 17, 1945.
605 Park Avenue
The Preddy House
contract pending April 1, 2021
- 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1,756 square feet
- Price/square foot: $114
- Built in 1920
- Listed March 30, 2021
- Last sale: $136,000, July 2004
- Neighborhood: Dunleath Historic District