Michael Renegar, who combined his passion for storytelling and ghosts to become one of the Triad's top authorities on myths and legends, died Sunday morning.
His longtime friend and work partner, Amy Greer, announced his death on Facebook. He was 51.
An East Bend resident, Renegar wrote four volumes of North Carolina ghost tales, "Roadside Revenants" and "Tar Heel Terrors" and "Ghosts of the Triad" and "Looking for Lydia," which he co-wrote with Greer.
He and Greer started Camel City Spirit Seekers, acting as ghost hunters to unravel reported hauntings and incidents of paranormal activity. Renegar entered these ghost investigations with a degree of skepticism, Greer said.
"He wasn't one of those to jump on something if someone sent him a picture of an orb. He wasn't like, 'Yeah, that's a ghost,' " Greer said. "He was scientific, but he did believe in spirits and their activity."
Renegar died at Novant Health Rehabilitation Hospital where he had been recovering from a procedure. The cause of death is not known, Greer said.
“I came up at the end of an era, when families would get together, fire up a chicken stew and tell ghost stories,” Renegar told the Journal in 2018. “I heard these from grandparents and aunts and uncles, telling stories that their parents told them. And I loved them. I thought all these stories were dying, and no one was writing them down. I started collecting as many as I could to preserve them.”
He started researching and writing about local ghost tales as a freshman at Appalachian State University in 1987.
In their latest book, Renegar and Greer worked to unravel the mystery of Lydia, a mysterious hitchhiker whose ghostly presence has appeared near a bridge in Jamestown for decades.
By pouring through old newspaper files and through interviews, the two connected this ghost story with the death of Annie L. Jackson, who was killed in a car wreck in 1920.
Renegar frequently spoke about ghost stories at local libraries.
"He was a lover of history, period, but especially North Carolina history," Greer said. "He contributed so much, especially to the ghost and folklore community. He had an overwhelmingly huge heart and great passion for the paranormal and the history behind it all."