Season 2, Episode 16
On this episode of the Life in the Carolinas podcast, Carl is joined by Gary Beshears, his son Josh, and a brother he recently met for the first time, Dennis Proctor.
Wilkes County barber, Gary Beshears, received a call toward the end of 2018 that would be life changing. His son, Josh had been working on their family genealogy for some time. While he was enjoying the process, he wanted to go further back in time and see if he could find out more about his family origins.
Josh was curious about the possible information that an Ancestry DNA test might reveal. So, one day he ordered the test, followed the directions and patiently awaited the results. When they arrived, what he discovered was far more than he had ever imagined.
Josh was looking for his family’s roots; He was not expecting to find a close family member he knew nothing about, but that’s exactly what happened.
This Carolina story has several interesting twists and it all started before Josh was born. Some 50 years ago in Michigan, a young boy by the name of Dennis Proctor was doing a bit of exploring in his parents’ room. He had no idea that the box he would find and open on that day would set him on a lifelong journey.
The contents of the box lead Dennis to believe that the man he knew as his father was not actually his biological father. Filled with confusion and emotions, he ran to his grandmother’s house; she listened and together they shared tears as she was unable to answer the question as to who his birth father was. That was the start of a 50-year journey that would lead a man from Michigan to the third-generation barber shop at the top of second Street Hill in North Wilkesboro.
Many things would happen between those younger years and now. Dennis would have many great adventures in life including a career as a history teacher and a passion for capturing images of wildlife. Dennis would also make family trips to the Shelby, NC area to visit the Proctor side of his family.
Meanwhile in Wilkes County, a young boy, Gary always wanted a brother. He was envious of others who had brothers to go hunting, fishing and just to share life with.
When Josh first called to let him know that he may have a brother, it took a little while for it to sink in. When asked how he felt about it, his very natural and likely common response was “I’m not really sure how to feel about it. If we had known each other when we were younger, he could have come to visit and spend the summer. At least we would have had the opportunity to grow up together.” But that’s not the way it worked out.
After several emails and calls, Dennis ask Josh if he thought Gary would do the DNA test as well. Gary agreed and when the results arrived it seemed to make the case even stronger that they are indeed family. With this news, Dennis invited the Bashear family to visit Michigan. He even offered to send the airplane tickets to fly everyone up.
There was only one problem with this offer, Gary always stays close to home and an airplane flight was not an option. With this development, talks of a Carolina trip started and the schedule was set for a June visit that would coincide with the Bashears family reunion.
The day arrived when Dennis and his wife pulled up in Gary’s driveway. Gary said when he saw Dennis get out of the pickup it was just like seeing his dad 20 years ago.
Nephew Josh was also part of the welcome committee. Gary said it was like they had known each other their whole life.
Josh got more than he bargained for when he ordered that DNA test. He now has a new uncle, Gary finally has the brother he’s always wanted, and while Dennis did not get to meet his birth father before he died, he now knows who he was, and he did find a brother and that’s a wonderful thing.