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Avery, Watauga Obituaries – May 13, 2015

Nell N. Tester (July 19, 1917 – May 11, 2015) 

Nell Norris Tester, 97, of Old U.S. Hwy 421, Sugar Grove, passed away Monday, May 11, 2015 at Wilkes Senior Village.

Born July 19, 1917 in Watauga County, she was a daughter of Alexander and Hannah Swift Norris. Mrs. Tester was a member of Cove Creek Baptist Church and retired from IRC.

Nell loved her family first, and enjoyed preparing special meals for her children, grandchildren, and friends. Her many talents included gardening and the art of quilt making and was considered a master basket weaver.

Mrs. Tester is survived by four grandsons, Michael Tester and wife, Pam, of Advance, Mark Tester and wife, Kay, of Albemarle, Jason Tester and wife, Danielle, and Justin Tester, all of Klamath Falls, Ore.; three granddaughters, Sherri Greene and husband, Terry, of Purlear, Allison Sheets and husband, Rodney, of Pilot Mountain, and Jennifer Quirk and husband, Chad, of Klamath Falls, Ore.; 12 great-grandchildren, including Cody Greene of Purlear; a number of nieces and nephews, including Lennis Moody and husband, Carl, of Vilas; and brother-in-law, Arlis Tester and wife, Bina, of Sugar Grove.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 49 years, Jack Tester; sons, Johnny and Jerry Tester; brothers, Conley, Rhonda, Ottie, George and Raymond Odell Tester; sisters, Minnie Phillips, Dessie Wilcox, and Mae Greene; and her parents.

Graveside services will be conducted Sunday afternoon, May 17th, at 2 o’clock, at the Cove Creek Baptist Church Cemetery, officiated by Pastor Shelby Stephens. At other times, friends may call at the home of a niece, Lennis Moody, 153 Burl Lawrence Road, in Vilas.

The family respectfully requests no flowers, and suggests memorials to Puritt Health Hospice, 902 West D Street, Suite B, North Wilkesboro, NC 28659.

Online condolences may be shared at the website austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com. Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Tester family.

Shirley M. Henson (Sept. 18, 1921 – May 11, 2015)


Shirley Moody Henson, 93, of Bamboo Road, Boone, passed away Monday, May 11, 2015 at the Blowing Rock Rehab and Extended Care facility.

Born Sept. 18, 1921 on the Cone Estate in Blowing Rock, she was a daughter of Arthur Columbus and Rhoda Marticia Estes Moody. Her life was spent in Watauga County being a homemaker, looking after her husband, Ralph, and watching over her family. Shirley was a member of Deerfield United Methodist Church.

Mrs. Henson is survived by her sons, Jerry Henson and wife, Mazie, of Jefferson, Wayne Henson and wife Carroll, of Manchester, Mo., and Larry Henson of Boone; three grandsons, Chris Henson and wife Kim, of Winston-Salem, Chuck Henson and fiancée, Nicole, of Kansas City, and Matthew Henson of Manchester, Mo; one granddaughter, Sara Henson of Denver, Co.; and three great-granddaughters, Sydney Henson and fiancée, Frankie, and Kristen Henson, all of Winston-Salem, and Presslie Henson of Kansas City, a number of nieces, and nephews also survive, along with her K-9 companion, Shawn.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, Ralph Harbin Henson, four sisters, Lorenz Moody, Comie Tharrington, Mary Estes, and Hazel Wright Hayes, five brothers, Ivan, Reece, Merle, A.C. and Jack Moody; and her parents.

Graveside services for Shirley Moody Henson will be conducted Thursday morning, May 14, at 11 oclock, at Woodlawn Cemetery in Blowing Rock, officiated by Rev. Rudy Hayes. Friends may call at the Henson residences, 3262 Bamboo Road, in Boone, following the graveside service. Flowers are appreciated or memorials may be made to the Davant Extended Care Residents Fund, Post Office 148, Blowing Rock, NC 28605.

Online condolences may be shared at the website www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com. Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Henson family.


Mr. Travis J. Gryder (May 21, 1993 – May 11, 2015)

BigGryderMr. Travis Jake Gryder, 21, of Boone passed away Monday at Watauga Medical Center.

Born May 21, 1993 in Watauga County, he was a son of Kelvin Gryder and Rebecca Eggers-Gryder. Travis was a graduate of Watauga High School, and attended East Carolina University and Appalachian State University. Travis was a member of Boy Scout Troop 101 and was an Eagle Scout and a member of the First Presbyterian Church. He was a graduate of the Cleveland County Fire Academy. Travis was employed by the Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue, and it was there that he found his passion. He also volunteered at the Watauga County Rescue Squad. Travis was full of life and genuinely enjoyed helping others and it showed.

He is survived by his parents, Kelvin Gryder and the Honorable Rebecca Eggers-Gryder, one brother, Daniel Gryder, his paternal grandparents, Roy & Edith Gryder of Blowing Rock, his maternal grandfather, Stacy C. Eggers, Jr, of Boone and a number of aunts, uncles and cousins.

Funeral services for Mr. Travis Jake Gryder will be conducted Thursday afternoon at 1 o’clock at the First Presbyterian Church. Officiating will be Rev. Jeff Smith and Rev. Kevin Yandle. Burial will follow at Mount Lawn Memorial Park & Gardens. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Watauga County Rescue Squad, PO Box 3487, Boone, NC 28607 or on line at www.wataugarescue.org, or to Phoenix Society, Inc. 1835 RW Berends Drive, SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49519-4955 or online at www.phoenix-society.org.

The family will receive friends Wednesday evening from 5 o’clock until 9 o’clock at the First Presbyterian Church, 131 Big Valley Street, Boone, NC 28607. Online condolences may be shared with the Gryder family at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.

Michael G. Shuford (Oct. 19, 1960 – May 11, 2015)

Mr. Michael George Shuford, 54, of Todd, passed away Monday, May 11, 2015. Mr. Shuford is survived by his wife, Valerie Shuford, his mother, Orpha Shuford and brother Mark Shuford both of Hickory.

Funeral arrangements for Mr. Michael George Shuford are incomplete at this time and will be announced at a later date.

Online condolences may be shared with the Shuford family at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com. Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Shuford family.

Robert George “Bob” Light (April 27, 1927 – May 11, 2015) 


Robert George Light, known to many as “Coach Bob Light”, 88, of Horseshoe Drive, Boone, passed away Monday, May 11, 2015, at Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care in Lenoir.

Bob was born April 27, 1927, in St. Louis, Mo., a son of the late Walter Marion Light and Joy George Light. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Boone.

Light served a total of 29 years as a head coach at Appalachian State, first leading the Mountaineers’ men’s basketball program for 15 seasons (1957-72), followed by 14 seasons at the helm of the school’s men’s tennis program (1974-88). He remains the winningest coach in school history for both sports (211 wins in basketball, 255 in tennis).

“Unfortunately, in my short time here at Appalachian State, I never had the privilege of meeting Coach Light personally,” Appalachian State director of athletics Doug Gillin said. “However, I certainly know that Coach Light is an Appalachian legend and that he will be missed greatly by our campus and athletics communities. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all of the student-athletes that he meant so much to.”

In addition to his 211 wins as men’s basketball coach, he also holds program records for seasons (15), games (389) and conference victories (94) at Appalachian State and his .542 winning percentage (211-178) ranks fourth in school history among coaches that served for at least three seasons, behind only Buzz Peterson (.665 – 1996-2000, 2009-10), Flucie Stewart (.641 – 1935-40, 1946-47) and Bobby Cremins (.588 – 1975-81).

The Mountaineers compiled 11 winning seasons in Light’s 15 seasons at the helm, including a 21-8 campaign in 1966-67 that saw Appalachian win the Carolinas Conference championship, its first conference title in 17 years. The Mountaineers routed Guilford, 91-67, in the 1967 Carolinas Conference championship game and beat Lynchburg, 100-84, in the opening round of the NAIA district playoffs. In all, Light guided Appalachian to four district playoff appearances.

A two-time Carolinas Conference and NAIA District Coach of the Year (1964 and 1967), Light mentored eight all-conference and five all-district performers (who earned the respective honors a total of 17 and six times). His teams also claimed seven North State/Carolinas Conference sportsmanship awards in 15 seasons.

“In my brief time here at Appalachian State, I had the great privilege to get to know Coach Light and his wife, Pat,” Appalachian State men’s basketball head coach Jim Fox said. “He was always very supportive of me and willing to help the program in any way. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

After stepping down as men’s basketball head coach in 1972, Light took over as Appalachian State’s men’s tennis coach in 1974 and led the Mountaineers to a gaudy 255-120 overall record in 14 seasons. In addition to his school-record 255 wins, he is also atop Appalachian’s men’s tennis lists for winning percentage (.680) and matches coached (375). He led the Mountaineers to Southern Conference championships in 1974 and ‘75 and was named the SoCon Coach of the Year in 1978 and 1981.

“I’ve known Coach Light and his family for over 30 years and am deeply saddened to hear about his passing,” Appalachian State men’s tennis head coach Bob Lake said. “Coach Light was always a great help to me in my career. He was a legend at Appalachian State and will be deeply missed by both the App State family and the tennis community as a whole.”

In recognition of his achievements in both sports, Light was inducted to the Appalachian State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991. The campus tennis courts on Rivers Street have bore his name since 2004 and an endowed scholarship — the Coach Bob Light Endowment for Basketball Scholarships — was established in his honor in 2013.

Other achievements include induction into Hall of Fame at Washington University in St. Louis in 1996. At that school he was a two-sport athlete. He was named Washington U’s Athlete of the year in 1949-50. At time of graduation he ranked first in scoring with 739 points. Also the Bears top tennis player, he boasted a 54-2 singles.record while helping the Bears win a school record 38 straight matches during his tenure. He was also Saint Louis Mens City Champion in 1949 and 1950.

His biggest tournament title might have been capturing the Florida State Open Doubles Title in 1950. Before there was the current ATP World Tour, this tournament was a circuit event for the top players in the country. He also had wins over notable players of that era including Buth Buchholz and Hal Surface, a former Davis Cup player and other national champions.

He was also inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 1997. His many achiements in North Carolina are numerous. As a player he captured the 1965 NC Men’s State Doubles Title, and in 1972 won the NC State Senior Doubles Championship, as well as the North Carolina State 70 and over division in 1997.

In 1963 he formed the Boone Junior Tennis Team which led to the North Carolina Western Jr. Tennis League. The most famous player to come out of this league might be Tim Wilkison who was a quarter finalist at the US Open and captured several ATP World Tour events. Many of the players who started in the league from Boone went onto gain college scholarships in including Mike Owen, Earnet Alonso, Greg Robison and others.

In 1964 he helped form the Horn in the West tournament and in 1966, which was renamed the Mountaineer Open where he was either director or co-director for over 30 years with another NC Hall of Famer, Jim Jones. As a top spot on the Southern Junior swing, past notable players who enjoyed success in college and on the ATP World Tour who played this event were Keith Richardson, John Sadri, Pender Murphy, John Lucas, Andy Andrews, Matt McDonald and others.

As a mentor to young men who also attended Appalachin State University just a few who went on to achieve national prominence in tennis, include Ronnie Smarr, who finished his career at Rice University as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history, J.W. Isenhour who coached NC State to several ACC titles, Jim Boykin who won titles at UNC Charlotte and National titles at Anderson College, and Randy Bernard, who was Georgia and SC teaching pro of the year.

Many of his players he coached at Appalachian State have had continued success on the tennis court after graduation including Keith Richardson, ATP ranking #70, Laneal Vaughn, numerous National Titles, and title holder of pro circuit events, John Geraghty NCAA All-America, Davis Babb, past North Carolina State Champion, Daniel Weant, former North Carolina State Champion, Bob Allsbrook, National Gold Ball winner and Bobby Light former Georgia State Champion.

He also served on various committes as President or chairman including the North Carolina Tennis Association, chairman of the NC ranking committe, President of the North Carolina Association of Tennis Professionals, Secretary of the Southern Conference Coaches Association, and NCAA Region Tennis Committee. And in 1975 wrote a script for BOB LIGHT on TENNIS and videos were directed by John Wray who directed the Ed Sullivan Show for 13 years. These videos were for educational purposes and can still be viewed at the Appalachian State library. He also co-authored a text book with Bill Steinbrecher that text parallels the TV tapes that were adapted by the Physical Education Department at App State.

Other accolades are inclusion into the International Who’s Who of tennis in 1984, and in 1994 a book entitled Appalachian Faculty Emerti was dedicated in Bob Light’s honor. Also in 1994 he received a meritorious service for Appalachian State basketball. After his stint as the winningest coach in App State history he went on to be the color man for local radio for the basketball network for several years, and help mentor a young Bobby Cremins, who he stayed in touch with until the final days of his passing.

Bob is survived by his wife, Pat Parker Light of the home; four sons, Bobby Light and companion Joyce of Atlanta, Georgia; Tommy Light, Wally Light and wife Shirly, and Willy Light, all of Boone; one grandson, Logan Light of Boone; and one brother, Walter Light, of Ocala, Florida.

In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by a sister, Marilyn Reed.

Funeral services for Robert George “Bob” Light will be conducted Saturday afternoon, May 16, at 1:30, at the First Presbyterian Church of Boone. The body will lie in state, at the church, from 12:30 until 1:30. Officiating will be Reverend Jeff Smith. Military graveside rites and burial, provided by the United States Navy and American Legion Post 130, will follow in Mount Lawn Memorial Park and Gardens.

The family will receive friends Friday evening, from 6:00 until 8:00 o’clock, at Hampton Funeral Service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Watauga Humane Society, Post Office Box 1835, Boone, North Carolina 28607, or the Robert “Bob” Light Endowment Fund for Basketball or Tennis Scholarships, in care of Appalachian State University Foundation, Gift Processing Center, ASU Box 32014, Boone, North Carolina, 28608.

Online condolences may be sent to the Light family at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com.

Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements.

James Lanson Estep (Oct. 24, 1937 – May 9, 2015)

Retired Colonel James Lanson Estep, 77, of Turtle Rock Road, Jonas Ridge, passed away Saturday, May 9, 2015 at Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville.

Col. Estep was born Oct. 24, 1937 in Marion, Virginia, a son of the late Lanson Eugene Estep and Clara Nell White Estep. He was of the Lutheran Faith.

Col. Estep had a distinguished 32 year career in the United States Army, seven as an enlisted man and 25 as an officer. He served principally in Airborne Infantry and Special Forces and was a company commander in the First Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam. Col. Estep served four tours in the Republic of Vietnam and was highly decorated, receiving among many other awards the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts. Following the Vietnam War, Col. Estep organized the First Battalion of the First Special Forces Group (Abn) and took it under his command to Okinawa to reestablish a Special Forces presence in the Pacific. For the successful performance of this mission he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

He received his B.A. degree from Auburn University and graduated from the Army War College and the Command and General Staff College. Col. Estep was the author of Comanche Six: Company Commander in Vietnam, an account of his experience as a company commander in Vietnam, and Soldiers Once, a novel about the Vietnam War.

Col. Estep is survived by his wife, Sairung “Pooh” Estep of the home, two daughters, Sai Estep of Banner Elk, and Jimmie Lee Reaves of Gloucester, Virginia, two sons, Jimmy Estep and John Jack Estep, both of San Carlos, California; one granddaughter, Emmalyn Sue Rivers; one grandson, Patrick Bearfield; one brother, Robert Estep and wife Elizabeth of Rural Retreat, Virginia; and one sister, Carol Thomas, of Abingdon, Virginia. He is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Philip Estep, and a sister, Sue Ann Morris.

Funeral services for Colonel James L. Estep will be conducted Friday afternoon, May 15, 2015 at 2:00 o’clock, at Hampton Funeral Home Chapel, Boone, NC. Burial will follow in Arlington National Cemetery.

The family will receive friends Friday afternoon, from 1:00 until 2:00 o’clock, prior to the service, at Hampton Funeral Service.

Online condolences may be sent to the Estep family at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com. Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements.

Memorials may be made to Disabled American Veterans, www.dav.org or PO Box 1430, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301 or to the charity of your choice.

Sheila Holloman (Feb. 28, 1959 – May 7, 2015) 


Sheila Carol Holloman, 56, of The Ponds Road, Banner Elk, passed away Thursday morning, May 7, 2015, at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home in Winston Salem.

Sheila was born Feb. 28, 1959 in Goldsboro, North Carolina, a daughter of Dorothy Peterson Holloman and the late Elmore C. Holloman.

Sheila is survived by one daughter, Breanna Arsenault of Banner Elk; her mother, Dorothy Holloman of Banner Elk; one brother, Jerry Holloman and wife Sandy of St. Augustine, Florida; one niece, Sarah Holloman of Maine; and one nephew, Zachary Holloman of St. Augustine, Florida.

She was preceded in death by her father, Elmore C. Holloman.

Funeral services for Sheila will be conducted Saturday afternoon, May 9, 2015 at 2:00 o’clock at the Hampton Funeral Home Chapel. The body will lie in state, at the chapel, from 1:00 until 2:00. Officiating will be Pastor Dan Burks. Graveside services will be conducted at 1:00 o’clock Monday, May 11, 2015 at Clinton City Cemetery in Clinton, North Carolina.

The family will receive friends Saturday afternoon at Hampton Funeral Service, following the service.

Online condolences may be sent to the Holloman Family at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com. Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements.


Wanda Shore Craine (July 23, 1943 – May 7, 2015) 


Wanda Lee Shore Craine, 71, passed away peacefully at Peak Resources on May 7, 2015.

She was born in Watauga County, NC on July 23, 1943 to the late Ernest Edward and Doyce Hayes Shore.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband’s Henry Craine for over 34 years, and Bob Huff; step daughter Virginia Nile Crain.

Survivors include her children Terry Huff and wife Debbie, Randy Huff, Lisa Huff Bradshaw; 6 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren; stepson Jimmy Craine and his children and grandchildren; the Niles children and grandchildren; and brothers Alton and Jerry Shore.

The family will receive friends from 5:00 until 7:00 pm, Saturday at Withers and Whisenant Funeral Home.

Graveside services will be 2:00 pm, Sunday at Adams Cemetery in Vilas.

Memorials may be made to Gaston Hospice, PO Box 3984, Gastonia, NC 28054

The family would like to send a heartfelt thank you to the wonderful care givers at Gaston Hospice and Peak Resources.

Condolences may be made to www.withersandwhisenantfuneral.com.

Withers and Whisenant Funeral Home and Cremation Service, and Hampton Funeral Service are in charge of the arrangements.

Keith Miller (May 13, 1950 – May 5, 2015) 

Rev. M. Keith Miller, 64, a native and former resident of Watauga County, passed away at home.

He is survived by his wife, Linda Risk Miller; daughter, Kim LeFever and husband Bryan; two sons, Jeremy Miller and wife, Michelle; and, Jason Miller, all of Statesville; nine grandchildren; one sister, Jeannie Scott and husband Dean of Fleetwood, and one brother, Dean Miller of Boone.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Howard and Virginia Critcher Miller.

Funeral services for Rev. M. Keith Miller will be held Saturday, May 9th, at 2:00 p.m. at South River Baptist Church in Statesville with Dr. Chris Thompson, Rev. Joey Byrd and Rev. Jeremy Miller officiating. Burial will follow in the Mount Lawn Memorial Park & Gardens in Boone.

The family will receive friends Friday evening from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at South River Baptist Church and at other times at the home of Kim and Bryan LeFever, 217 Sand Trap Drive, Statesville, NC.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Mission Fund of South River Baptist Church, 2659 S. Chipley Ford Road, Statesville, NC 28625 and online condolences may be left at www.nicholsonfunerals.com. Nicholson Funeral Home (Statesville, NC) and Austin & Barnes Funeral Home & Crematory are serving the Miller family.

Jane Heath (Jan. 26, 1941 – May 4, 2015)

Jane Heath, 74, of Banner Elk passed away on May 4, 2015 at her residence.


A native of Louisville, Ky., Jefferson County, she was born Jan. 26, 1941 a daughter of the late Emanuel S. and Evelyn Pfanmoeller Forcht.

She was a member of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church, serving with the Prison Ministry and Mission Trips. Jane enjoyed gardening, quilting, and her daily bible study.

A loving wife, mother, and grandmother, Jane has left to cherish her memory her husband, Julian “Deac” Heath of the home; son, Scott Heath, and his wife, Anne, of Banner Elk; daughters, Cynthia Austin, and her husband, Jim, of Banner Elk, Susan Huskins, of Marion; brother, Terry Forcht, and his wife, Marion, of Corbin, Ky.; and her granchildren, Carissa Heath, Heather Austin, Tyler Sawyer, Heath Austin, Cara Heath, Deacon Heath, and Sommer “Janey” Huskins.

Funeral services for Jane Heath will be conducted on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at the Mount Calvary Baptist Church with Rev. George Wright officiating. Interment will follow in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday at the church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: The Local Missions Fund, c/o Mount Calvary Baptist Church, PO Box 125, 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 Heath family.