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Watauga, Avery Obituaries – July 28, 2020

The following are recent obituary notices from Austin & Barnes and Hampton funeral homes in Boone and Reins-Sturdivant in Newland

Alice Jeffress Powell
1929 – 2020

Our mom, Alice Jeffress Howell Powell, died peacefully in her sleep at her “Little House” in Boone, North Carolina on July 19, 2020 at the age of 91.

She was a force of nature all of her life and could do anything she set her mind to. She embraced everything life had to offer and wasted no time getting at it. As a child, Mom ran wild and carefree with her 5 brothers and sisters in the foothills of her beloved historic home place, Athlone Farm, in Amherst, Virginia, a large working farm that housed an impressive extended family of aunts, uncles, grandparents, grandchildren, and the frequent “just need a place to stay for a while” relative. Supper meals were elbow-to-elbow and sometimes sharply interrupted by an urgent need to scatter foxes raiding the chicken house. Her early days consisted of preparing hundreds of jars of pickled peaches for cellar storage, taking care of the daily needs of old Aunt Mary, and resolving what might happen when she and her brother tied two cows’ tails together.

At Athlone, Mom learned the importance of hard work, the need to treat everyone with respect and dignity, and the value of a dollar. She grew up by the scruff of her neck, strong and confident. And wanting more.

She insisted to her father that daughters should have the same opportunity to go to college as sons and graduated in 1950 from Roanoke College with honors and an English degree. As a senior, she was Roanoke College’s “Princess in the Court of Queen Shenandoah” at the Apple Blossom Festival. She was on the May Court, was chosen “The Kappa Alpha Rose,” and was a member of the Cardinal Key Club, and Sigma Kappa.

Subsequently she became a 6th grade teacher. She danced through her early life with abandon and was in fact a jitterbug champion. On November 11, 1951, she married our father and her soul mate, Nathaniel Thomas “Dick” Powell, the son of a tenant farmer from Halifax, Virginia.

She fell in love, but not in line.

She and our father moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and lived in a seriously tiny two-bedroom home in “VetVille,” a housing community for veterans seeking a college education under the G.I. Bill. While she never said so, we believe these were challenging days for our Mom, no longer surrounded by extended family and excitement but having to figure out how to do more with less of both.

But Mom didn’t wait for life to give her more. She demanded life give her more. She went in search of what she wanted, and then figured out a way to get it, a lesson all of her daughters have never forgotten. Under this philosophy, Mom and Dad searched for and bought their first real home. Childcare during these searches consisted of loading us up into their second-hand blue station wagon and promising an ice cream cone to keep us quiet for the ride.

In that first real house, Mom’s children, Becky and Pam, boogied to The Lawrence Welk Show in their frilly slips, wished they could play baseball with the boys in Little League, and Celia was born. Meanwhile, Mom immediately began to work on finding the land and money to build what she thought at the time would be their forever home. And then made it happen.

Since one goal was reached, another got set. She helped establish Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church and spearheaded numerous programs under its roof. She founded the “50+” senior group at WBPC which is still active to this day. “Wednesday Night Live” was another of her church-based initiatives, a time when families could gather in the fellowship hall for a hot meal, camaraderie and worship. Her creative cooking became legendary, and when hurricanes ravaged her neighborhood, she fed the soaked and hungry hot off the grill on her backyard deck.

Her impressionistic oil and pastel watercolor paintings proudly hang to this day throughout personal galleries up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Her handmade ceramic roosters still crow on many a bookshelf. She substitute taught, worked in the Department of Food Sciences at NCSU, and worked in the hotel industry. She was a singer, a songwriter, a poet, a lover of the written and spoken word, and an accomplished writer. She could do anything.

Mom always looked like a million bucks. When money was tight (actually, even when it wasn’t), she stood first in line at yard sales to score high-end blouses and slacks. She snagged prom dresses for her daughters off $8 clearance racks and dolled them up to match our desired “mod” fashion statements of the 60’s and 70’s. Mom challenged the expectations of women in her time. She believed that women had their place. And that place was every place.

She became one of a whole generation of strong women who raised likewise strong women. Most important to her three daughters, five grandchildren and five great granddaughters, she was a loving, involved influence who devotedly attended our physical and emotional needs, encouraged (and insisted on) our educations, listened to and cheered on our aspirations, and loved us all unconditionally.

And she never took no for an answer. Not from us nor from life.

After Dad retired, and with her children satisfactorily secured in their independent lives, Mom, now in her 70’s, found a way to return to her beloved Athlone, inheriting the home place and investing heart and soul into it just as her father had done a generation before. After traveling the hard road of restoring the historic home to its previous grandeur, it tragically burned to the ground. But Mom, through tears and raised fist, refused to give up or in. She went on to rebuild Athlone in its entirety exactly one foot off of its original foundation.

She then became an active supporter of the Amherst County Museum And Historical Society, a museum dedicated to the history and people of her home county, and she brought new life and light to her family’s historic church, Saint Mark’s Episcopal. The cookbook she organized for the church was dedicated to her vision. She delivered daily meals to now old and crippled former Athlone farm hands, and restored Athlone’s 7 historic outbuildings one by one.

Mom and Dad hung tightly together throughout their lives. Mom continued as a chief cheerleader for an active and fulfilling life, with an eagle eye for finances and investments throughout their journey together. She treasured the value of her family and the earth, insisting that she and Dad buy back at auction some of his family’s land lost during the Great Depression, just because they should. She and our father adored each other, and she stood tall and strong for him when he became terminally ill in 2007 and then scattered his ashes across the landscapes of their lives when he passed.

The loss of our father would have grounded an ordinary spirit, but Mom was no ordinary spirit. She pulled herself up from her intense grief at his loss to travel yet another fork in the road. She started a Memorial garden in Dad’s honor at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church and, when that was done, she designed, built and dedicated a splendid memorial garden large enough for her entire extended family under the tall walnut and magnolia trees at Athlone. She enjoyed vacations with her daughters, renovated her kitchen on a whim one day when there was nothing else to do, and took long drives throughout the countryside looking for adventure. She just couldn’t stop. Over her final years, she willed herself back into action from a broken pelvis, broken ribs, and two broken hip surgeries. Even in her very last days, she fought with everything she had against the dying of the light.

The earthly road Mom traveled is almost impassable, so populated is it by all the archives of a life well lived and the saved and salvaged souls she escorted along the way. Our mom was a Renaissance Woman, and it took 91 years of living for her to express and impart to us all of her gifts. We still suspect she took a few secret ones with her.

We will be forever grateful, and will always feel most fortunate, to be a part of the wonderful family and community she and our father built together and to carry on her legacy. Our hearts ache at our loss, but her spirit soars in our souls.

Alice was born on January 1, 1929 in Amherst Co, VA, to the late John V. Howell, Sr. and Maria Louise Borum. She was preceded in death by her husband, Nathaniel Thomas “Dick” Powell, her sisters Mary Louise Johnson and Margaret Perry, and by her brothers John V. Howell, Jr, Thomas Howell, and Robert Howell

She is survived by her daughters Pamela Powell Williamson (Jerry), Rebecca Powell O’Connell (Kevin), and Celia Powell Liebl (Rex); by her grandchildren Shannon O’Connell Van Heest (Kyle), Kevin Brent O’Connell, Jr., Samuel Thomas Liebl, Rebecca O’Connell Shelton (Bailey), and Joseph Morton Liebl. She is also survived by 5 great granddaughters: Margaret, Alice Virginia, Blythe, Emmeline, and Adaire Van Heest and by three beloved sisters-in-law: Betty and Robbie Howell, Elizabeth (Libby) Howell-Jennings, and many nieces and nephews.

Due to COVID-19, the family plans to hold “Celebration of Life” services once it is safe to do so.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 670 Patrick Henry Hwy, Clifford, VA, 24533; Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church, 4900 Kaplan Drive, Raleigh, NC, 27606; The Amherst County Museum And Historical Society, PO Box 741, Amherst, VA 24521; or to a personal cause of choice

Mattie “Sissie” Tester
1952 – 2020

Mattie “Sissie” Eggers Tester, age 68, of Vilas, passed away Tuesday, July 21, 2020 at home.

Sissie was the youngest of eleven children, born to the late Lloyd and Lucy Millsaps Eggers of the Beaver Dam Community. She enjoyed sweets and preferred to eat dessert first; she enjoyed game shows and reality TV. But more than anything, she loved her children with everything she had and always put them before anything else. A better mama will never be found.

Left to mourn her loss and cherish her memory are her son, Terry of Lenoir and daughter Kim of the home, as well as numerous grand furbabies. Sissie is survived by two brothers, Shelby Eggers of Vilas and Lloyd Alfred Eggers of Sugar Grove, and three sisters Margaret (Sue) Alcorn of Indiana, Iris McAlister of Hickory, and Mary Nell Shufford of Hickory. A number of nieces and nephews also survive. In addition to her parents she was preceded in death by a son, Billy, a daughter-in-law, Tammy Tester, two brothers, Martin and Robert Eggers, and three sisters, Juanita Ward, Carolyn Stilwell, and Joyce Ann Eggers.

The family would like to thank Dr. Kevin Wolfe, and assistant Kathy Miller, for caring for Ms. Tester with the utmost compassion, humility, and love, for many years. We know we would have lost our mom many years ago without Dr. Wolfe’s expertise and special care, and we are beyond grateful.

At Ms. Tester’s request, there will be no memorial service.

n lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Watauga Humane Society, PO Box 1835, Boone, NC 28607.

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

Dorit Gaye Teeters
1934 – 2020

Mrs. Dorit Gaye Leonard Teeters, age 85, of Boone, passed away Thursday night, July 23, 2020 at her home. Born September 1, 1934 in Shallotte, NC, she was a daughter of the late William Lloyd and Elva Pauline Grissett Leonard. She received a BA in education from Berry College in Rome Georgia, and her a MA in Counseling from East Carolina University. She served as an elementary teacher in Florida, Germany, and North Carolina, and later as a high school guidance counselor. She enjoyed travel, which included visits to Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, every state in the continental US, and parts of Canada. Dorit retired to the Boone area in 1999. She attended Alliance Bible Fellowship and was active in church over the years in teaching, leading, feeding, and working with the youth. Dorit also volunteered at Watauga Medical Center, Meals on Wheels, and Samaritan’s Purse

She is survived by her husband Thomas Teeters of 54 years, two sons, John (wife Mary), and Jeffery (wife Jennifer), six grandchildren, Hannah, Thomas, Elizabeth, Joshua, Joel, and Joseph, three siblings, Maxton Elroy Leonard, Sammie Elton Leonard (wife Betty) and Shelby Leonard Rourk. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by two siblings, Joyce Faye Leonard Skeen and Lloyd Ethridge Leonard. A life celebration service for Dorit will be conducted at a later time when gatherings are less restrictive. In lieu of flowers, it was Dorit’s wish that gifts be given to Samaritan’s Purse Post Office Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607 or to another charity.

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

Rebecca “Becky” Townsend
1949 – 2020

Rebecca Hagaman ‘Becky’ Townsend, 70, of Vilas, passed away Sunday, July 26, 2020 at Watauga Medical Center. Born December 13, 1949 in Watauga County, she was a daughter of Robert Lee Hagaman, Sr. and Anna Lee Shepherd Hagaman. Becky was a member of Willow Valley Baptist Church. She will be remembered as a lady who loved her Lord, her church and her family. Becky always looked forward to traveling with her family on cruise ship vacations. She was retired from ASU. Becky is survived by her husband of 49 years, Roger Townsend; daughter, Linda Hicks and husband, Chris, and son, Jimmy Townsend, all of Vilas; grandsons, Dylan Lawrence of Shelby and Garret Lawrence of the US Army, Ft. Campbell, KY; sisters, Janice McGuire and husband, Ben, of Trade, TN and Lee Ella Danner of Ft. Pierce, FL; brother, Robert Lee ‘Sonny’ Hagaman and wife, Rebecca, of Boone; her uncle, Paul Shepherd of Vilas; brother-in-law, Bennie Townsend and wife, Brickie, of Mountain City, TN; and sister-in-law, Martha McGinnis and husband, Gary, of Vilas. Several nieces and nephews also survive. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her sister, Roberta Tester; and brother-in-law, Jack Danner.

Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday afternoon, July 29th, at 2 o’clock at Willow Valley Baptist Church, officiated by Rev. Sonny Hagaman, Pastor Ray Greene and Rev. Andy Watson. The body will lie in state at the church from 12:30 until 2 o’clock at the church. Graveside services will follow in the Vanderpool Baptist Church Cemetery. The family respectfully requests all in attendance to observe social distancing and to please wear a mask.

At other times, the family will be at the home of her son, Jimmy Townsend, 504 Burl Brown Road in Vilas.

Flowers are appreciated or memorials may be made to the Vanderpool Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, in care of Joe Brown, 475 Burl Brown Road, Vilas, NC 28692.

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


Ralph John “Jack” Austin, III

December 06, 1946 – July 20, 2020

Ralph John “Jack” Austin III,  of Blowing Rock, NC  passed away July 20, 2020.

Jack was born in Greensboro, NC on December 6, 1946, to the late Ralph John Austin Jr and Rose Holderfield Austin. Also preceded in death by his brother Edward Austin.

Left to cherish his memory is his loving wife of 44 years and best friend Kathleen, as well as his children,  Nathan (Amber), Emily (Blake) Elliott (Elizabeth) and five beautiful grandchildren, Dixie Rose, Fischer Jack, Brooks Walker, James Levi and Carolina Grace.

Jack also leaves behind four siblings, Thomas, Charles, Mary, William (Elaine) and four nieces and nephews.

Jack will be fondly remembered as a complicated guy with simple needs, who loved spending time with his family and hanging out in his shop amongst old English cars!

Over the years, nothing made him happier than throwing on a ball cap and jumping into his MG and driving around our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

He was known far and wide in the south, for his extensive knowledge and appreciation for his favorite cars. He would gladly share any information he had , with other vintage car enthusiasts.

Before Jack’s retirement he grew several successful European car repair shops , Blue Ridge Sports Cars in Boone NC, Auto Haas in Tallahassee FL and most recently Jack’s Cars in Blowing Rock.

Due to the covid-19 the family will have a private gathering at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, a donation to The Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue, is appreciated by the family.

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

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


Kimberly Flahart Wishkoski

June 03, 1965 – July 06, 2020

Kimberly Flahart Wishkoski, age 55, of Houston, Texas, formerly of Watauga County, passed away Monday, July 6, 2020 in Houston.

Kimberly was born June 3, 1965, daughter of Dale Flahart and the late Janet Flahart. She was a CNA for many years and loved caring for others.

She is survived by her husband Ronnie Wishkoski; one son, Jason Winkler; two brothers, Dale and Mark Flahart; her twin sister, Karen Flahart, and sister Hope Presnell. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews.

Memorial services for Kim will conducted Friday afternoon, July 24, 2020, at 4:00 o’clock, at Cool Springs Baptist Church in Blowing Rock.

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

Announcement courtesy of Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service.


Ricky Michael Norris

November 24, 1956 – July 23, 2020

Ricky Michael Norris, age 63, of US Highway 421 North, Zionville, passed away Thursday, July 23, 2020, at his home.

He is survived by one brother, Ken Norris and wife Dollie of Deep Gap; three nephews, Bryan Norris and wife Geneva and Greg Norris, all of San Antonio, Texas and Daren Norris of Beech Mountain; one niece, Nicole Bledsoe of Gray, Tennessee; his step-mother, Lena Norris of Blowing Rock, and two step brothers, Bruce Boulanger of Jacksonville, Florida and Jimmy Boulanger of Mountain City, Tennessee.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Russell Glenn Norris and Ethel Henson Norris.

Memorial services for Ricky Michael Norris will be conducted at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Boone Baptist Church, PO Box 2058, Boone, North Carolina, 28607.

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

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


Polly Clawson Combs

May 06, 1945 – July 23, 2020

Polly Clawson Combs, age 75, of Castle Ford Road, Boone, passed away Thursday evening, July 23, 2020, at Watauga Medical Center in Boone.

Polly was born May 6. 1945 in Watauga County, a daughter of the late Willie Roland Clawson and Beulah Culler Clawson. She was a retired registrar for Watauga High School, and a member of Henson Chapel United Methodist Church. Polly’s main purpose in life was her family.

She is survived by her husband, Paul Combs; one son, Todd Combs and wife Lori; her daughter Kimberly Combs Greene and husband Joe; four grandchildren, Sarah Combs, Owen Combs, Ethan Greene and Eli Greene; one sister, Sue Gurley and husband Steve; two brothers; Bill Clawson and wife Betty, and Dennis Clawson; four sisters-in-law, Betty Clawson, Dorothy Combs Gragg, Donna Combs, and Maryanne Combs. and two brothers-in-law, Howard Combs and wife Betty, and Bill Combs and wife Kathy. She is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by two sister, Dare Hardy and Mary Yokeley; four brothers, Archie Clawson, Dean Clawson, Robert Clawson, and Doyle Clawson, and several sisters and brothers-in-law.

Graveside services and burial for Polly Clawson Combs will be conducted Sunday afternoon, July 26, 2020, at 2:30, at Meat Camp Baptist Church Cemetery. Officiating will be Reverend Cindy Lunsford and Reverend Mike Townsend.

The family will greet friends following the graveside service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tennessee, 38105.

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

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

Charles “Chuck/Charlie” Hughes
March 15, 1957 – July 20, 2020

Charles “Chuck/Charlie” Evans Hughes, age 63, a longtime native of Linville
passed away on Monday, July 20, 2020 at Mission Memorial Hospital in Asheville.
He was born on March 15, 1957 in Avery County to Paul and Faye Hughes. Chuck was
the Avery County Tree Specialist, that had selflessly served his high country
community for over three decades. He also diligently maintained a stretch of
Highway 105 through the Adopt A Highway program on top of his day job. Chuck
never met a stranger. He was such an empathic person, and he loved yellow roses.
If you were Chuck’s friend, you were his friend to the end. He adored all
animals. Chuck also volunteered as a fireman for the Linville Fire Department.
In addition to his parents those left to cherish his memories are his loving
wife, Betsy of 32 years; one daughter, Jennifer Hurst (Todd) of Banner Elk; two
grandchildren, Wilder and Eva-Woods Hurst of Banner Elk; one sister Paula Hughes
of Linville; one nephew, Timothy Robson of Gainsville, FL; and his beloved pets,
Spencer Reid and Maggie Mae. Memorial services will be private and burial will
be at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Avery County
Humane Society or ASPCA. Words of comfort and memories may be shared with the
family and viewed at www.rsfh.net. The care of Chuck and his family has been
entrusted to Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland. 828-733-2121


Marvin Kenneth Harris
October 30, 1937 – July 20, 2020

Marvin Kenneth Harris, age 82, of Jacksonville, Florida passed away surrounded by his family on Monday, July 20, 2020 at his Summer residence in Beech Mountain, NC.
He was born on October 30, 1937 in Unicoi County, Tennessee, the youngest child of the late John Henry Harris and the late Grace Miller Harris. He was proceeded in death by his brother Hobert, sister Inez (Ray Nelson), and brother Jimmy (Marie Harris).
Marvin leaves behind to cherish his memory his: Wife, Joan Cook Harris of Beech Mountain, NC, Daughter, Michelle (Richard) Harris, Son-In-Law, Richard (Michelle) Harris, Daughter, Karen Harris, Step son, Todd Smith, Step daughter in law, Melinda Smith, Step daughter, Lori Harless, Step son in law, Claude Harless, Step Grandson, Parker Hill, Step Granddaughter, Lainey Hill, Step Granddaughter, Lexi Smith, Step Grandson, Matteo Villareal, Step Grandson, Brayden Smith, Step Granddaughter, Cinni Smith, Granddaughter, Karen Rainer, Grandson, Denny Norris.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Alzheimer’s Association, www.alz.org
Words of Comfort and Memories may be shared with the Harris family by visiting our website www.rsfh.net
The care of Marvin and his family has been entrusted to Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland.

Roger Dale Arnett
June 11, 1950 – July 21, 2020

Roger Dale Arnett, age 70 of Banner Elk North Carolina passed away on Tuesday July 21st 2020 at Roan Highlands nursing home in Roan Mountain, TN.
He was born June 11th 1950 in Banner Elk NC. The Son of the late Paul Butler Arnett, and the late Myrtle Shook Arnett.
At age 18 Roger served in the Vietnam War. After being honorably discharged he returned to his hometown in Avery County where he remained.
Roger was a man with many skills, such as wood working, playing guitar and drawing. Through the years he enjoyed various forms of employment such as construction, truck driving, mechanics, and running heavy equipment. His Favorite hobbies were working with horses and tinkering with old cars.
In 2007 He began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and quickly developed a deep love for Jehovah God and his son Jesus. He dedicated his life to God and was baptized in the spring of 2008. He was eager to tell everyone that he knew about the exciting things he learned in God’s word and would often spend hours talking to ones about the Bible.
Roger was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Myrtle Arnett, and his brother Jerry Arnett.
He leaves behind to cherish his memory his two daughters, Crystal Napier and her husband Billy Napier of Elk Park, NC, Denise Suarez and her husband Martin Suarez of Cary NC, son Paul Rupard and wife Michelle Rupard of Banner Elk NC.
Siblings: sister, Shelia Clark of Jonas Ridge NC, brother Eddie Arnett and wife Phillis Arnett of Banner Elk NC.
Grandchildren: Louren Zellers and her husband Jake Zellers of Newland NC, Joseph McKinney of Newland NC, Michelle Roberts and husband Steven Roberts of Newland NC, and Lora McKinney and fiancé Justin Rose of Morganton NC.
Roger was also blessed with 14 great grandchildren, several beloved nephews and a niece that he loved very much. Along with these are many of his dear friends from the Newland Kingdom hall of Jehovah’s witnesses and longtime friends he….that loved and cherished over the years.
There will be a memorial service held for Roger over zoom on Friday, July 31,2020 at 7:00 PM. Jay McAninch, a dear friend of Roger’s, will be giving his memorial service talk. Anyone who would like a link to log in and watch his memorial service can contact Crystal Napier by text or phone call at 828-897-1706. A link for the memorial will be sent to you.
There will be no graveside service held.
The family would like to thank the Roan highlands and Amedisys Hospice staff for all their amazing care and support for Roger and his family. Their kindness will not be forgotten.
Thanks also to all the loving friends who are showering his family with love during their time of loss.
Words of Comfort and Memories may be shared with the Arnett family by visiting our website www.rsfh.net
The care of Roger and his family has been entrusted to Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland.