Bruce Edgar “Bingo” Wharton, the fifth of seven sons, was born on May 8, 1955 to the late Luther William Wharton and Savilla Watts Wharton in Accomac, Virginia. He was a husband, father, grandfather, mentor, friend, and servant leader within his community. Though he departed this life on July 27, 2020 in Salisbury, Maryland, his legacy will live on forever.
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At a young age, Bruce gave his life to God while attending Macedonia AME Church in Accomac, Virginia and as an adult, he continued to follow His teachings and joined St. James AME Zion Church in Salisbury, Maryland. He was educated in Accomack Public School System and attended the formerly segregated Mary N. Smith High School, before integrating Onancock High School where he graduated in 1973. He then went on to attend Kitrell College in Kitrell, North Carolina before attending Barber Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1977.
Upon graduation he returned to the Eastern Shore where he began employment at SHORE UP! Inc. in 1979. He served as the Career Information Media Tech, Fiscal Assistant, and Fiscal Manager before ascending into the role of Chief Financial Officer where he administered a budget of over $13 million until the time of his death. His 41 years of service and contributions were invaluable. As Chief Financial Officer, he helped to increase the agency’s revenue-always ensuring that they were adhering to state and federal guidelines. This was the driving force behind innovative ideas that made SHORE UP a successful Community Action Agency. In 2015, Bruce was recognized by the Maryland Community Action Partnership with the Legacy/Lifetime Achievement Award for a lifetime of dedication to community action, for demonstrating a passion for helping the community and building a solid foundation to empowerment. He was also a small business owner, and previously served as the head basketball coach at James M. Bennett High School, winning the 2A State Championship. In 2003, Bruce was named the Daily Times 2003 Coach of the Year and Bayside Conference Co-Coach of the Year.
His commitment to helping others didn’t stop at work. Active in the community, Bruce coached in the Salvation Army Basketball League and received several awards from the Wicomico County Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism for his activities with area youth. In addition, he served on the Board of Directors of Maple Shade Youth and Family Services, Inc., the Wicomico County Recreation Commission, and the Wicomico County Public Schools Minority Teacher Recruitment Committee. He was actively involved in the Wicomico Chapter of the NAACP and was a member of The Boule, but is mostly known for his community involvement with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. where he was a Life Member.
Bruce “Bingo” Wharton became a member of the fraternity on April 24, 1976 while attending Barber-Scotia College and was initiated into the Zeta Sigma Chapter where he served as Polemarch. After graduation, Bruce became affiliated with the Accomack Alumni Chapter before becoming a very active member of Salisbury (MD) Alumni Chapter. Over the years, he held numerous leadership positions including Keeper of Exchequer and Polemarch for 4 nonconsecutive terms. In 1990, under his leadership, Bruce organized the chapter’s Kappa Guide-Right Basketball League which was to celebrate its 30th Anniversary this year. Through his continuous service, the league successfully impacted Salisbury and provided hundreds of area youth with the opportunity to enhance their basketball skills and develop social skills. While training for leadership, those youth successfully interacted and attained their educational goals while advancing to high school, collegiate, and professional teams. Bruce was also a vital part to the success of the major Kappa fundraiser- the Kappa Kruise, which provided scholarships to local youth. It was during the Kruise that Bruce distributed the infamous “Nupe Juice” to the brothers and guests.
His work didn’t just stop on the Eastern Shore but extended to the Provincial Level serving as Alumni Operating Assistant and Eastern Province Region 1 Alumni Board Member, a position he held at the time of his death. During his tenure, he earned the Eastern Province Leadership Award, and the Eastern Province Polemarch Leadership Award. Kappa Alpha Psi was treasured by Bruce and he was well-known and sought after in friendship at the province and national events every year.
Bruce married Maria Morris on July 18, 2002 in Union United Methodist Church. Together, they enjoyed going to concerts, traveling, and attending fraternity and sorority events. He also enjoyed spending time with extended family, friends, and fraternity brothers, but no matter how many new people he met, or how far he went, the old saying always rang true with him- there’s no place like home. He often returned home to “LA” to visit and eagerly anticipated the Annual Accomac Day.
He is survived by his loving wife Maria Morris; children, Brutina Marshall (Rob) of Baltimore MD, Torrez Wise (Laterra) of Salisbury, MD, and Leigha Morris of Raleigh, NC.; five grandchildren, Jordyn Marshall, Elijah Wise, Akira Wise, Dylan Wise, and Lendell Wise; brothers, Charles “Bobby” Wharton and Fletcher Wharton of Accomac, VA, Larry Wharton (Virginia), Wayne Wharton (Cheryl), both of Salisbury, MD, and Ronald Wharton (Tonya) of Pocomoke, MD; mother-in-law, Geneva Morris of Delmar, MD; sisters-in-law, Shannon Morris (Teddy) of Salisbury, MD and Kelley Morris-Springston (Alex) of Delmar, DE; one brother-in-law, Leon Morris (Vanessa) of Bear, DE; three godchildren; and a host of loving relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his loving parents, Luther “Luke” and Savilla Wharton; brother, Dorsey Wharton; maternal and paternal grandparents; and aunt, Lois Savage.