By Mark S. Kenna
Nov. 20, 2013. In honor of the late Virgil Worth Greer, the Boone Town Council remembered his service to the Historic Preservation Commission and the Junaluska community with friends, family and members of the Junaluska community at Tuesday evening’s council meeting.
Greer’s son, Miles Greer, accepted the resolution read by Bettie Bond, chair of the Boone Historic Preservation Commission.
“I appreciate you guys having me up here for this and it does mean a very large amount to me. I know that it would mean a lot to [Virgil] as well,” Miles said. “I know he was very passionate as I was speaking to a few of you about everything that you guys were working on. I was hoping that you continue to be as passionate about the things that you’re working on as he was. I think that is something that is one thing that he would want everyone to do with what they do in their lives in terms of what they truly care about. That’s really something I continue to think about as I was driving up here today, so again I just wanted to say thank you.”
Virgil Worth Greer dedicated his life to historic preservation of both the African-American Junaluska community and Boone. Virgil was born on April 14, 1950. He loved to sing and perform especially in the church choir and with the Gospel Gems. Founder of the Junaluska Heritage Foundation and a historian of the Junaluska community, Virgil also served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam conflict.
The pastor from the Mennonite Brethren church came to speak along with family members and community members.
“Virgil made a big difference in our church he was an elder in our church and someone who I went to often just to get advice from or to talk to — just a stellar singer,” Mennonite Brethren Church Pastor Chris Edise said. “He is very sorely missed in our community, but we’re very thankful for all that he has brought to us. We’re better people. The town’s a better place because of the impact that he made.”
The Gospel Gems, the Mennonite Brethren choir Virgil was a part of, will be releasing a CD around Christmas time with Virgil’s singing on it, Edise added.
Sam Tate, the producer of the “Young World Radio Show” on WATA and WXIT, also spoke.
Tate said a special that Virgil produced during February on Black History Month would re-air.
Morris Hatton, Virgil’s brother-in-law, thanked the council for honoring Virgil.
The Mayor and members of Town Council expressed their appreciation for Virgil’s work in the community. Rennie Brantz, Andy Ball and Allen Scherlen all served with Virgil on the Boone Historic Preservation Commission.”
“You’re a wonderful wonderful part of our community,” Mayor Loretta Clawson said. “We appreciate you. We appreciate all the energy that you bring to this community and we know that Virgil’s work will be carried on. He was just a wonderful person in our community.”
“Virgil was a very kind and caring person,” Councilman Rennie Brantz said.
“I served with Rennie and Virgil on the committee for a couple years and appreciated his work on a daily basis, and I think that the council will continue that work across the community for preservation and honoring our culture here,” Councilman Andy Ball said. “A sad day for us, but we honor him here tonight.”
“I worked with him the last year or two on the Historic Preservation Commission,” Alan Scherlen, said. “I think he really did exemplify the heart and soul of the preservation commission, and he will be sorely missed.”
“It was both my honor and privilege to work with Virgil over several years,” Councilwoman Lynne Mason said. “I know that he was very passionate about the Junaluska Heritage Foundation and getting together a community event, and I hope that we can continue to do that because the Junaluska community is such an important part of our history here and to keep that alive I think would be a real honor to Virgil.”
Mayor Pro-Tem, Jamie Leigh, also spoke, even though she had never met Virgil.
“I never had the privilege of meeting Mr. Greer, but I have heard so many nice things about him,” Leigh said. “Boone is so lucky to have had Mr. Greer as a part of our community.”
Resolution honoring Greer reads:
“The members of Boone Town Council meeting in regular session on November 19 2013, do herby adopt and pass the following resolution. Whereas Virgil Worth Greer served as the historian for the Junaluska community, founded the Junaluska Heritage Foundation and served on the town of Boone Historic Preservation Commission and whereas Virgil Worth Greer was a fifth-generation resident of the Western North Carolina mountains and a third-generation of the Junaluska community. And whereas Virgil worth Greer served as a key note speaker at many events to spread information about the Junaluska community, one of the oldest and continuously occupied African American communities in Western North Carolina, and the only African American community remaining in Watauga County; and where as Virgil Worth Greer served in the United States Army during Viet Nam era, was a deacon, elder and church choir member and member of the Gospel Gems. And whereas the members of the Junaluska Community and residents of the town of Boone will know of the distinct characteristics of the Junaluska community and the town of Boone and their unique mutual history because of Vigil Worth Greer’s dedication and love for discovering and preserving history and his desire to protect the essential integrity of both communities. Now therefore be it resolved that the Boone Town Council, Boone Historic Preservation Commission especially the citizens of Junaluska and Boone as well as generations to come will be able to view and learn of the history of Junaluska and Boone because of the tireless efforts and commendable work of Virgil Worth Greer. Adopted the nineteenth day of November twenty-thirteen signed and by Mayor Loretta Clawson.”