Bill Brock, former owner of Paddock Club in Greenville, N.C. dies
by Patrick Enderle
Gay Greenville pioneer: Bill Brock
Greenville lost a great man on Feb. 27. His name is Bill Brock. Although there are many stories and tales attached to his name, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to know the man behind them. For five years of my life, Bill Brock was my boss at the Paddock Club in Greenville, N.C.
The Paddock Club was a magical place, at one time being the oldest gay bar in the state of North Carolina. Bill had the courage to create a place for the gay community to go when most of the world would have preferred our community to disappear. Throughout his time there, one of his primary concerns was always making sure that there was a place to go, where we could be ourselves and share our lives and loves with each other. Many people will say that Bill was just a selfish, money-grubbing business man who never really cared about his customers. I would tell those people that they didn’t know who he really was. There were times in Bill’s life where he would eat the finest meals of peanut butter sandwiches and Vienna sausages, because he was more concerned with using his money to keep the Paddock Club open for the community.
As his manager, he and I butted heads many times when he did not support the money side of the issue, preferring to take the people side of the issue. Nights when bad weather was coming through town, I would say we should remain open, but Bill would adamantly refuse, because he did not want people out on the roads in hazardous conditions. When Sunday nights got really slow, sometimes with no one showing up, I had recommended closing on those nights. Again, Bill adamantly refused. He said we needed to stay open for even just one customer who may come in, not to make money off of a few drinks that wouldn’t even cover the electricity for that night, but rather to make sure that one person had a place to go to possibly escape whatever discrimination he or she may be facing.
Even in the face of his bar closing to a competitor, with mud being slung across the battle lines, Bill still insisted that no matter what, we had all had to support each other and make sure that the gay community had a place to go.
Bill was not a perfect man, but he possessed many fine qualities and he will remain a pioneer who helped our community in the beginning, always making sure that we had a place to go.
It’s true, there were times he knew there were underage teenagers sneaking in to the club, presenting him with legal problem, but often he would look the other way just because he knew young people needed a place to go to feel welcome and not out of place. For those of you who are gay in Greenville and may have never been to the Paddock Club, do understand that even you are granted a social scene partially because of Bill Brock. Bill never really liked people making a fuss over him, but do take a moment in your own time to give credit or recognition to a man who really helped to establish the gay community in Greenville, N.C.