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Watauga, Avery Obituaries – March 23, 2021

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


Kelly-Grier Ferguson Costin

July 2, 1984 – March 19, 2021

Kelly-Grier Ferguson Costin of Boone, North Carolina moved to the side of her maker on March 19, 2021 after a brave three-year journey with colon cancer.

Born on July 2, 1984, Kelly-Grier was raised in Suffolk, Virgina, while spending many summers at Nags Head with her friends and family. Baptized and confirmed at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, she remained a person of strong faith through her life until the end of her struggle. Attending Nansemond-Suffolk Academy from Kindergarten through graduation, she then moved on to East Carolina University where she proudly graduated with honors. While at ECU, she was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, which laid the foundation for several close, lifelong friendships dear to her heart.

Upon graduation, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to seek a future in her love for apparel merchandizing. While living in Charlotte, she met her husband-to-be, Ryan. His family business carried them to the mountains where they resided in Boone, raising their family. Kelly-Grier loved Boone and Boone loved her back, developing many dependable and lasting relationships.

Kelly-Grier is survived by a loving husband Ryan and their three children Harper 10, James 5, and Finley 3. In addition, her dedicated parents, Nancy and Grier Ferguson, her brother Brett and wife Heather (Courtney, Lindsey, Zachary, and Carter), and brother, Lex and his wife, Sandhya (Maya). Ryan’s parents John Costin and Susan Shaughnessy Costin, Ryan’s siblings Shawn Costin, her husband Matt (Conner, Ben, Davis, and Jack), Casey Costin, Jack Costin and his wife Sarah Lee, and Kelly Costin. Missing her as well, her lifelong babysitter/nanny and later friend, Tracey Warren Sackett. 

Kelly-Grier will be remembered for her indomitable will, contagious sense of humor, outright love of life, and a unique ability to make and hold close friendships, but most of all, for her unwavering love and dedication to her family. She will be missed by many, but is now at peace in a better place after her courageous struggle. A memorial service with placement of her ashes will take place at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Memorial Garden in Boone, North Carolina at 11am on Saturday, March 27. The ceremony will be officiated by the Reverend Cyndi Banks of St. Luke’s and the RT Reverend Keith Emerson of Saint Paul’s. Masks and social distancing will be in effect for this outdoor ceremony.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Colon Cancer Coalition at coloncancercoalition.org.

“This world’s loss is the next world’s gain.”


Lewis Benjamin Norris

1932 – 2021

Ben Norris, age 89 of Vilas, went home to Heaven on Sunday March 14, 2021.

He was born on January 16, 1932 to the late Lewis F. and Trocia Greene Norris. He graduated from Bethel High School and joined the Navy where he served for 6 year. On Feb 25, 1955 he married the love of his life the late Eliza M Jarvis. They moved to OH in 1956. He sheared sheep for several years in the summer and worked at the Sugar Beet plant in Ottawa OH. He then went to work for the West Ohio Gas company in Lima OH where he worked for 26 years till he retired and moved back to NC.

He enjoyed gardening, growing flowers, taking pictures and looking for Arrowheads in the fields by his home, bird watching, hunting and fishing, and looking through buckets of sand from the gem mines for precious stones.

He was a member of Bethel Baptist Church where he served as a deacon.

He and his wife spent several summers in Haiti working with Mission Possible, out of Findlay OH, helping to build school and churches for the people there.

He is survived by his two daughters, Nancy Elizabeth Norris Felver and husband Timothy of Vilas, Cynthia Suzzanne Norris Hendrickson and husband Rob of Tiffin, OH. Brother Roah Dudley Norris and wife Judy of Sugar Grove, NC. Brother-in-law Tommy Critcher, Boone, sister-in-law Clara Norris. Granddaughters Sondra Meier, Mandy Jenkins, Leslie Jenkins; Grandsons Charles Jenkins, Jr and Cat Longworth and wife Sheryl ; Great- granddaughters, Elizabeth Ferris, Charlese Ferris, Audrey Meier, Zoey Chestnutt, Alexis Smith, Mallory Chestnutt and Emma Jenkins; great-grandsons, Jaden Jenkins, Justice Jenkins,  Zachary Ferris, Hunter Jenkins, Charles Jenkins III, Kadin L. VonDeylen, Rocco Chestnutt, Franco Chestnutt, Loyal Longworth and Hendrix Smith; great-great-granddaughters Laela Bishop and Kloe Jenkins.

He was preceded in death by his brother Robert Gene Norris, sister Roberta Lynn Norris Critcher and granddaughter Elixia Chestnutt and grandson-in-law Steve Chestnutt.

Funeral services for Ben Norris will be conducted on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 2PM in the Austin & Barnes Funeral Home Chapel, in Boone NC. He will be laying in state from 12:00-2:00 p.m. The Rev Charlie Martin will be officiating. Military honors will be provided by American Legion Post #130. Burial will be in the Norris Family Cemetery.

Social distancing and the use of masks will be required.

Memorial donations may be made to Bethel Baptist Church Building Fund or Kari’s home for Women.

Online condolences may be shared with the Norris family at the website www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.

Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Norris family.


Lucus Craft Presnell

1998 – 2021

Lucus Craft Presnell, age 22, of Baird’s Creek Road, Vilas, passed away Saturday, March 20, 2021 at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.  Born May 6, 1998 in Watauga County, he was a son of John and Britten Bowen Presnell.   Lucus was a special young man who was full of life, loved to laugh, and was always ready to share a bright smile for everyone he met.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by his brother, Jonathan Presnell and sister, Elisa Presnell, both of Vilas; paternal grandmother, Diane Presnell of Vilas; and niece, Kinley River Presnell.  A number of aunts, uncles and cousins also survive. 

Private services will be held at Baird’s Creek Baptist Church, officiated by Pastor Jerry Lee Pennell. Burial will be in the Danner-Cornell Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to Austin & Barnes Funeral Home to assist the family with ongoing expenses.  

Online condolences may be shared at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com

Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Presnell family.


Sarah Ellen Winebarger Parleir

August 04, 1940 – March 17, 2021

Sarah Ellen Winebarger Parleir, age 80, of Boone, passed away Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at her residence.

Ms. Parleir was a Watauga County native, born August 4, 1940 to the late Esau and Ethel Mae Miller Winebarger. Sarah was a member of the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She loved people and had many friends that she loved and treasured. Sarah carried this love into the community by being a CNA for home healthcare patients.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her first husband, James “Jimmy” Miller as well as her recent husband, Howard “Jay” Parleir. She was also preceded by sisters, Ola Winebarger Trammel and Alverta Winebarger Greene, brothers, Fred Winebarger, Tildon Winebarger, Walter Winebarger, Odell Winebarger, David Winebarger, Dewey Winebarger, and Thomas Winebarger.

She was survived by her daughter, Dianne Miller Fletcher and husband Mike of Deep Gap, NC, son, Daniel Miller and wife Monica of Morganton, NC, son, Luke D. Miller of Charlotte, NC, daughter, Lisa Brown of Hickory, NC, sister, Ann Winebarger Jarvis of Boone, NC, brother, Richard Winebarger and wife Shirley of Boone, NC, 5 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great-grandson, and numerous nieces and nephews

A memorial service for Ms. Parleir will be held at a later date.

The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care  for the care that was provided to Ms. Parlier during her sickness.

Due to COVID-19, the family respectfully asks for no food or flowers.

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

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


Marianne Rooks

September 28, 1944 – March 19, 2021

Marianne Rooks passed away on March 19th, 2021 after struggling with Lewy Body Dementia.  She was born in St. Petersburg, Florida on September 28, 1944, to Reverend John James and Ethel Rooks.  As a Methodist minister’s daughter, she and her family moved all over the state of Florida. She was proud to be a native Floridian.

In 2007, she moved to Boone, NC to be closer to her oldest daughter, Kathy, and son-in-law Michael. In addition to living in Florida and North Carolina, Marianne lived in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

Marianne was a graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa.  When she was in her 40s, she returned to school and earned a Masters Degree in Education of the Deaf at the University of NC at Greensboro.

At age three, Marianne contracted the German measles, which severely damaged her hearing.  This handicap did not stop her from using her brilliant mind to accomplish many things. She was always a curious individual who never stopped learning and questioning. Marianne listened to her beloved father we call “Poppie”, who always counseled her to “never, ever give up.” These words guided her life long struggle with a severe hearing impairment.

Marianne’s determination resulted in a diverse professional career. She worked as an elementary school teacher, a respiratory therapist, a speech therapist for deaf children, and an Independent Living Skills Specialist for handicapped adults.

Marianne loved teaching and learning and enjoyed many creative hobbies including sewing, quilting, stained glass, and scrapbooking.  She absolutely loved spending time with her friends at The Quilt Shop in Boone, NC.

In her retirement, she taught stained glass classes at the Appalachian State University Craft Enrichment Center.  Throughout her varied careers, Marianne enjoyed mentoring many young people.

Marianne is survived by her four children: Kathy Evans of Boone, NC (Michael Gniadek), Heidi Christensen of Deer Park, Washington, Jennifer Perry (Andrew Berg) of Citra, Florida, and John Mark Leitner (Katya) of Orlando, Florida. She is also survived by her older brother, Dr. Jim Rooks (Penny) of Tacoma, Washington. Marianne also cherished her three grandchildren: Hailey Perry, Madison Perry, and Mark Daniel Leitner, all of Florida.

In addition to her loving parents, John James and Ethel Rooks, Marianne was preceded in death by her faithful, licensed, hearing guide dog, Buddy Rooks.  Over the years, Marianne, her four children, and Buddy created many happy memories while spending time with “Grammie and Poppie” at their home in Lake Junaluska, NC.

In her final stages of dementia, Marianne asked many times when “Grammie and Poppie” were coming to pick her up. Although we are saddened to lose her, we are grateful to Grammie and Poppie and Buddy for calling her home.

Marianne spent the last year and seven months of her life in the care of Cranberry House in Newland, NC.  The family would like to thank all the employees of Cranberry House, Medi-Home Hospice of Newland, NC, and the Western Watauga Senior Center in Sugar Grove, NC.  Also, thank you to the kind and patient drivers of the Appal-Cart for transporting Marianne to and from the Senior Center.

If desired, memorials may be made to any of the fore mentioned organizations.  A gathering to fellowship and remember Marianne Rooks will be held sometime in June at the home of her daughter, Kathy Evans, and son-in-law Michael Gniadek on Junaluska Road in Boone, NC

Hampton Funeral and Cremation service is serving the Rooks family

Online condolences may be made at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com


Melissa Duckworth Munday

March 20, 1964 – March 18, 2021

Mrs. Melissa Duckworth Munday, age 56, passed away Thursday, March 18, 2021 at her home.  Born March 20, 1964 in Avery County, she was a daughter of the late Gurney and Martha Norman Duckworth.

Melissa was a member of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and worked at the Trade Post Office.

Other than her parents, she is preceded in death by her infant son, Joseph Marion Munday and brother, Ronnie Duckworth, Brother-in-law, Randall Munday and Father-in-law, Kermit Munday.

She is survived by her husband, Terry Munday to whom she was married for 36 years, 2 sons, Jared Munday and Jeremy Munday, one daughter, Amanda Munday, all of Creston;2 Grandsons, Connor Munday of Deep Gap, and Jayce Munday of Creston; 2 sisters, Barbara Blair of Elk Park and Brazilla Norris and husband Wade of Todd; her Mother-in-law, Earle Jean Munday of Creston and Sister-in-law, Debbie Duckworth of Foscoe.  She is also survived by many nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

Funeral services for Melissa Duckworth Munday will be conducted 3:00 PM Sunday, March 21, 2021 in the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church with Pastor Billy Joe McGuire, and Pastor J.C. Greene officiating.  Burial will follow in the Ellison Family Cemetery.  The family will receive friends from 2:00 until 3:00, one hour prior to the service.

All Covid-19 Protocol shall be observed with masks and social distancing.

Memorial contributions may be made to Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, 902 Kirkwood Drive, Lenoir, NC 28645

Online condolences may be sent to the Munday Family at www.hamtponfuneralnc.com

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


Cabell Gragg

June 17, 1929 – March 19, 2021

Paul Cabell Gragg, age 91, went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Friday, March 19, 2021. Born June 17, 1929 in Blowing Rock, he was the son of the late William Paul and Exie Tolbert Gragg.

Cabell was preceded in death by his wife, Billie Miller Gragg, a son, Phillip Gragg; sisters: Pansy Mullins and Clara Fox; brothers: Thomas Gragg and infant Edward Gragg; and daughter-in-law, Sharon Koontz Gragg.

He is survived by a very special friend, Joyce Vines; his son Paul Gragg and wife Angela; one sister, Martha Gragg Norris; Grandsons: David Gragg, Christopher Gragg and wife Deanna, Michael Gragg and wife Casey, Ryan Gragg and wife Antigone, Granddaughters: Jodi Gragg Stines and husband Justin, Alexis Gragg; Great-Grandchildren: Trathan Gragg, Lainey Gragg, Tatym Gragg, Baylor Gragg, Josie Stines, Jaron Stines, Charlee Gragg and Nick Lyons; and special family friends, Grace Potter and Buddy Fore; and several nieces and nephews.

A member of Oak Grove Baptist Church, Snow Lodge 363, the Shriners, and a U.S. Army veteran from the 501st Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne, Cabell devoted his life to God, his family, country and community. Cabell and his wife, Billie started Mountain Rest Home, Inc. in 1954 and remained active in the assisted living and long-term care industry for nearly 40 years. He was a recipient of the life-long service of excellence award from the NC Senior Living Association. Cabell was known for his sharp wit and humor, and his willingness to quietly help when he saw a need.

Funeral Services for Mr. Paul Cabell Gragg will be conducted 2:00 PM Sunday, March 28, 2021, Palm Sunday, at Boone United Methodist Church. Burial will follow in Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery.

The family will receive friends Saturday, March 27, 2021 from 6:00 until 8:00 PM at Hampton Funeral Service. The body will lie in state on Saturday starting at 9:00 AM.

All COVID-19 Protocols shall be observed including masks and social distancing.

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

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

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607 or donate.lovetotherescue.org


Donna Sluder Norwood

March 30, 1952 – March 17, 2021

Donna Sluder Norwood, age 68, of Newland, North Carolina passed away on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at the Fourlines Patient Care in Hudson, NC.

She was born on March 30, 1952 in Stark County, Ohio, a daughter of the late Fred W. Sluder and the late Mary Edlee Taylor Sluder.

She was a member of the New Life Baptist Church and had attended the Newland Christian Church. She retired from the Avery County Schools after working in various Cafeterias thru out the system. Donna was a very kind and loving lady, who always had a smile on her face.

Donna leaves behind to cherish her memory her loving husband of 45 years, Ernest Norwood of the home; Brother, Paul Edwin Sluder of Newland, NC; and a host of friends.

Services for Donna Norwood will be held on Friday, March 19, 2021 beginning at 7:00 pm from the Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home with Alvin Carpenter officiating. The family will receive friends beginning at 5:00 pm on Friday at Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home.

Interment will be in the Slippery Hill Cemetery on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.

Due to the current COVID-19 regulations, our staff is committed to taking care of our guests and families that we serve. Please understand we will be following the State’s COVID guidelines. All guests attending the visitation and service must bring and wear a mask.

The family would like to extend their sincere thanks and appreciation to the Nurses and Staff of Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care.

Words of Comfort and Memories may be shared with the Norwood family by visiting our website www.rsfh.net

The care of Donna and her family has been entrusted to Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland.


Bro. Donald Eugene Stines

October 19, 1954 – March 20, 2021

Bro. Donald Eugene Stines, age 66, of Elk Park, North Carolina entered into the Eternal Glory of Heaven on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at the Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville, NC.

He was born on October 19, 1954 in Lee County, Virginia, a son of the late David Eugene Stines and the late Goldean Potter Stines.

Don was a member and Co-Pastor of the Blue Ridge Mountain Church in Elk Park, he was also the Founder and Pastor of the Move With Compassion Ministry. He enjoyed reading his bible and traveling to Israel.

He was preceded in death by his Mother, Goldean Potter Stines; Father, David Eugene Stines; Two Sisters, Carolyn McKinney, Rebecca Dellinger; Brother, Jesse Junior Stines.

Donald leaves behind to cherish his memory his loving wife of 45 years, Evelyn Riddle Stines of the home; Brother, David (Melissa) Stines of Elk Park, NC; and a host of nieces, nephews and friends and family.

Services for Bro. Donald Eugene Stines will be held on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 beginning at 2:00 pm from the Blue Ridge Mountain Church with Pastor Paul Cole officiating. Interment will follow in the Blue Ridge Mountain Church.

Don will lie in state at the church beginning at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, 2021 until the service hour on Wednesday.

Due to the current COVID-19 regulations, our staff is committed to taking care of our guests and families that we serve. Please understand we will be following the State’s COVID guidelines. All guests attending the visitation and service must bring and wear a mask.

The family would like to extend their sincere thanks and appreciation to Avery County EMS, Jerry and Ella Markland for all they did.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Blue Ridge Mountain Church, 2200 Blevins Creek Rd Elk Park, NC 28622.

Words of Comfort and Memories may be shared with the Stines family by visiting our website www.rsfh.net

The care of Donald and his family has been entrusted to Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland.