A Face of Banner Elk Passes Away – Jack Masters; ‘Mr. Banner Elk,’ ‘Mr. Lees-McRae,’ and ‘The Baron of Big Stone Gap’ Will Sorely Be Missed

Published Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm

By Jesse Wood

Jack Masters was quite the dancer.

March 1, 2012. BANNER ELK — Jack Masters, one of the most well-liked figures in Banner Elk, passed away Wednesday morning. Standing 6 feet 6 inches tall, Masters was a bear of a man, though people who knew him thought of him as a gentle giant.

“Jack was just a good person. He loved people, and he loved children in particular,” said Dan Brubaker, who knew Masters from the Kiwanis of Banner Elk, an organization that aims to improve the quality of live for children and families.

Masters was very active in his community and served on Banner Elk Town Council, Banner Elk School Improvement Team, Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk, served as scoutmaster for Troop #807. He was a Little League coach and served as a Board of Director of the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce and was their most active volunteer. Also, 
Masters was a member of Banner Elk Presbyterian Church.

Masters first arrived in the High Country in the late ‘50s to attend Lees-McRae College. That’s where Don Baker met Masters, and the two remained friends for the next five decades.

“I’ve told stories on Jack and argued with Jack for 56 years,” laughed Baker, who played on the Bobcats basketball team many years ago while Masters was the team’s equipment manager. Masters was so tall that Baker assumed he played on the team.

“He was a character – unique, one-of-a-kind – and certainly involved in the community,” Baker said.

Because Masters was so engaged in the community, people referred to him as “Mr. Banner Elk” and “Mr. Lees-McRae.” Baker had another nickname for him – “The Baron of Big Stone Gap” – because Baker was from Big Stone Gap in southwestern Virginia and because he was University of Kentucky Wildcats fan. (Adolf Rupp, the legendary Wildcats basketball coach, was nicknamed The Baron of Bluegrass.)

“He loved sports, but he always cheered for the wrong teams – especially for being in ACC country,” Baker said.

Joking aside, both Baker and Brubaker called Masters a friend and a mentor.

The Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce, another organization that Masters was involved in released this statement from Brubaker on Wednesday:

“The Lord showed mercy on Jack this morning.  He passed somewhere between 8:30 to 9:00 this morning.  He went quietly, no pain or suffering.  Pray for Connie and the family and the community of Banner Elk as we grieve the lost of a great person.  But just remember this, even in heaven, the grass is always BLUE.”

Sharon Meyer, secretary for Banner Elk Chamber, added in an email, “Dan has worded it perfectly below. The only thing I can add is now our Jack is a full-fledged gentleman angel.”

Masters had a massive cerebral hemorrhage on February 25 and passed away in Mission Hospital in Asheville.

“He passed on quietly and peacefully,” Brubaker said, adding that Masters will be sorely missed in the High Country.

A memorial service for Masters will be held Sunday, March 4, at 2:00 p.m. in Evans Auditorium in theCannonStudentCenteratLees-McRaeCollege. A reception follows at the college cafeteria.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to either Grandfather Home for Children or Lees-McRae College.

More photos of Jack Masters and Obituary from Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home

Obituary from Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home

Jack Masters, age 79, of Banner Elk passed away on Wednesday February 29, 2012 at Mission Hospital in Asheville. 

He was born October 6, 1932 a son of the late Robert “Bud” and Ethel Pennington Masters. 

Jack graduated in 1958 from Berea College with a degree in Elementary Education after transferring from Lees McRae. In 1963, he graduated from the Presbyterian School for Christian Education with a Master’s Degree in Christian Education. He accepted a position as Recreational Director at Montreat-Anderson Junior College (now Montreat College, a four-year baccalaureate college), which is located on the grounds of the Presbyterian mountain retreat North Carolina called Montreat. he was married to Lynda Henley in August of 1964. In the fall of 1965, he accepted a call to serve as Youth Director at the Central Presbyterian Church in Clayton Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. He continued this ministry in an affluent, urban setting until the summer of 1967 when he accepted a call to Goodland Presbyterian Children’s Home in Hugo, Oklahoma. He made the move with his wife and 9-month-old daughter, Anna Beth. He served as Recreation Director at Goodland until 1971 when he accepted the call to the Presbyterian Children’s Home in Farmington, Missouri. In all of these settings, Jack was highly respected for his ability to organize for children and youth and to coach, and he was loved for his sensitivity to and his respect for the children he served. Regardless of age, children were drawn to him as he consistently reassured them of their abilities and worth. 

In the seventies he went to Tazwell, TN to work in social services. He worked with children at risk, and developed the respect of social workers and court and school personnel for his well-informed and tireless work on behalf of children. In the late 1970’s he returned to Banner Elk, North Carolina. He worked at Lees mcRae College and for the community of Banner Elk. He was a t home in Banner Elk, and nothing pleased him more than serving his fellow citizens in this small community, the dearest place in his heart. 

He was very active in his community and served on the Banner Elk Town Council, Banner Elk School Improvement Team, was a member of the Banner Elk Kiwanis Club, served as Scoutmaster for Troop #807 and was a little league coach. 

Jack was a member of the Banner Elk Presbyterian Church. 

Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by his: brothers, Scott, Ray and James Masters; sister, Trudy Rogers. 

Jack has left to cherish his memory his: daughter, Anna Beth Morgan and husband, Keith of Athens, GA; grandson, John Henly Morgan of Athens, GA; nephew, Bill Haga of Rock Hill, SC.; nieces, Peggy Ellen Hedden of Big Stone Gap, VA., Connie Ross of Watauga, TN., Dana West of Raleigh, NC. 

A memorial service for Jack Masters will be conducted on Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. at the Evans Auditorium of Lees McRae College with Rev. Odell Smith, Rev. Dan Brubaker and Rev. Rolan Mullinix officiating. 

The family requests no flowers, but memorials may be made to Grandfather Home for Children at Po Box 98 Banner Elk, NC 28604 or to Lees McRae College at PO Box 128 Banner Elk, NC 28604. 

Words of comfort and memories may be shared with the family and viewed at www.rsfh.net. 

Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland is serving the Masters family. 

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