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Watauga, Avery Obituaries – May 25, 2021

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

Francis Edwin Cooper

1932 – 2021

Mr. Francis Edwin “Ed” Cooper, 89, of Banner Elk, passed away Thursday, May 20, 2021. He was a native of Roaring Gap and the son of the late Mason R. and Edna Abbiati Cooper.

He graduated from Mineral Springs High School in Winston-Salem, and attended Lees-McRae College and Guilford College. A Korean War veteran, he was a Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force serving as a Weather Observer.

Ed worked as a draftsman with the Bahnson Company in Winston-Salem for many years before retiring to Banner Elk. 

He was a faithful member of Arbor Dale Presbyterian Church.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Sandra “Sandy” Rominger Cooper, and a granddaughter, Abigail Cooper.

He is survived by one son, Michael Cooper and wife Beth of Suffolk, Virginia, and one daughter, Lisa Cockman and husband Jim of Winston-Salem and four grandchildren, Bobby Cooper and wife Allison of Rustburg, VA, Jeffrey Cooper and Juliana Cooper both of Suffolk, VA, and Megan C. Burnett and husband Joey of Hendersonville, NC.

Graveside services for Francis Edwin “Ed” Cooper will be conducted Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. in the Matney-Liberty Community Cemetery with the Rev. Tee Gatewood officiating.

Memorials may be made to Life Care Center of Banner Elk, 185 Norwood Hollow Road, Banner Elk, N.C. 28604 and/or Arbor Dale Presbyterian Church, 6619 Hickory Nut Gap Road, Banner Elk, N.C. 28604.

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

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

Faye Miller Rhymer

1930 – 2021

Faye Doris Miller Rhymer, age 91, died May 20, 2021, at the Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge in Blowing Rock. She was born March 1st, 1930, in Pageton West Virginia to Olin & Ella Triplett Miller.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Clise Edgar Rhymer, two daughters, infant Hilda Rhymer & Shelia McCrary, grandson Michael Greer, and three brothers, Earl, Darrell & Hugh Miller.

Surviving are her children: Joan Church of Parlier; Jean Winebarger of West Jefferson; Teresa Greer of Vilas; Duane Rhymer and wife Karen of Boone; Keith Rhymer and wife Jeannie of Deep Gap; four sisters; Betty Ford, Claudia Aldridge, Lenda Eggers & Leta Greene. She is also survived by 13 grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren who all lovingly called her Grandma Faye, and by many nieces and nephews.

Mom was a lifelong resident of the Triplett Community and an active member of Boone Baptist Church.  Her family was her world and she loved them beyond measure. She loved her church family with the same passion.  Faye enjoyed gardening and was an amazing cook. She loved visiting with folks and never met a stranger. Her goal each day was to be happy and she certainly was.

Services for Faye Miller Rhymer will be conducted Tuesday afternoon, May 25th, at 2 o’clock at Boone Baptist Church, officiated by Pastor Kenny Newberry.

The family will receive friends from noon until 2 o’clock, prior to services, at the church.  A private family graveside service will be in the Rhymer Cemetery. 

The family respectively requests no food. Flowers are appreciated or donations may be made to the Rhymer Cemetery fund c/o Kenneth Rhymer, 140 Timberlane Ext., Boone, NC 28607.

The family greatly appreciates the loving care given to Mom by all employees at The Foley Center and a special thanks to Liberty Hospice. 

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

Deborah Lynn Duke “Hyde” Norwood

December 17, 1953 – May 17, 2021

Deborah Lynn Duke “Hyde” Norwood, age 67, of Hickory Nut Gap Road, Newland passed away Monday, May 17, 2021 at Watauga Medical Center.

She was born December 17, 1953 in Ada, Oklahoma, the daughter of the late Billy and Dessie Duke. She lived in Newland with her husband Ronnie Norwood. She loved spending time with her beloved fur babies.

She is also survived by her children, Tasha Brinkley of Georgia, Teresa Anderson of Tennessee and Chad Anderson and partner Daniel Ortiz of Florida, her six grandchildren, Codie Garrison, Dixie Garrison, Savannah Anderson, Chance Anderson, Bethany Bare, and Ben Turbyfill. She was also survived by ten great-grandchildren.

In addition to her father and mother she was preceded in death by her first husband Perry Lee Anderson, and her beloved grandson Branden Stuart Bare and one sister, Sandra Kay.

Graveside services and burial will be conducted Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 11:00 o’clock at Hyde Cemetery, Hickory Nut Gap Road, Newland. Mr. Chad Anderson will officiate.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Avery County Humane Society, 279 New Vale Road, Newland, North Carolina 28657.

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

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

Leslie Sheppard Hayhurst

May 02, 1950 – May 17, 2021

It is with deepest sadness and regret that we inform you of the passing of Leslie Sheppard Hayhurst, on May 17, 2021, of natural causes.
We believe that she was called to sit and support Saint Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint for all animals, large and small. Leslie was President and Founder of Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. on Beech Mountain, NC.
She will be mourned and missed, but we have always known that she was not afraid to go, and she departed as she lived, with calm and quiet grace.


Leslie lived her life for the birds and all the voiceless creatures, from the black snake to the black panther. Her private home was always filled with noisy birds and tiny creatures who needed nourishment from an eye dropper every half hour or so. She never failed them. She had no thought, whatsoever, of disruption or inconvenience to herself. Every call was answered, day or night. Every caller was consoled, and their concerns addressed.
Leslie had a child-like spirit and soul, an aura of peace and love. She always found the best in all those whose paths she crossed.
She was blessed with physical beauty, but it never really registered with her. She had a laugh that reminded you of reindeer bells, and she laughed a lot. She reminded those close to her to always be the best they could be.
Leslie is survived by her loving and beloved life-partner, Yvonne Hardin, and by her equally beloved sister, Stacey; also, by her Florida family of relatives, including her three nephews; Jonathan Fuentes and his daughter, Sienna; Eric Hirsch and wife, Hasna, and son, Tristan, and daughter, Am Era; Stephen Hirsch and wife, Stephanie, and daughter, Samantha.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. or a charity of your choice, or plant a tree to help re-nourish our planet. If you would like to bring flowers to the Celebration of Life, please consider bringing wildflowers.
There will be a Celebration of Life ceremony, Saturday, the 29th of May, commencing at 5:00 PM, EST. We have planned a sumptuous VEGETARIAN buffet, an open bar, and enough champagne for everyone to have a sip in honor of Leslie. Please RSVP to Alan at 828-387-4350, no later than noon on the 26th of May, if you plan to attend.

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

Hampton Funeral and Cremation service is in charge of the arrangements

Phillip Ray Pickett, Sr.

September 28, 1940 – May 19, 2021

Blowing Rock – Phillip Ray Pickett, Sr. 80 died unexpectedly May 19, 2021, at Watauga Medical Center. He was born September 28, 1940, in Duplin County, the son of Fred and Amie Lou (Parker) Pickett.

Phillip graduated from Chinquapin High School, Class of 1958. After graduation, he married his high school sweetheart, Emma. They celebrated 61 years of marriage in October. He graduated from Central Carolina Community College in 1963, and spent most of his career in the computer industry. After years of moving around NC they found their roots in Blowing Rock in 1985 when they bought the Boxwood Lodge. Phillip and Emma enjoyed over 30 years welcoming guests to the Boxwood Lodge. Phillip served on the Town Council and the Tourism Development Authority Board.

Phillip believed in the strength of family and always put his family first. He enjoyed travel and made certain his family appreciated the wonderful sights across the US. He loved spoiling his grandchildren and making lasting memories with them.

Phillip was preceded in death by his parents. Surviving him are his wife, Emma (Scott) Pickett; his son, Phillip (Ray) Pickett, Jr. and his wife Melissa of Blowing Rock; his daughter Amy Wicker and her husband Mark of Greensboro; four grandchildren, Adam Wicker and his wife Megan, Taylor Pickett, Scott Wicker and Carson Wicker; two sisters, Kay Lanier and her husband Ralph (Junior), Gail Cottle and her husband Howard. He is also survived by many cousins, nieces, nephews and numerous extended family and friends.

A celebration of life will be held 2 P.M. Sunday, June 13th at the American Legion Hall, 333 Wallingford Street, Blowing Rock.

In lieu of flowers, memorials for Alzheimer’s research to the Rotary Club of Blowing Rock, c/o CART Fund (Pickett Family), P.O. Box 1300, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 would be appreciated by the family.

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

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

Arvel Lee Millsaps

October 17, 1923 – May 19, 2021

Mr. Arvel Lee Millsaps, age 97, of Smith Henson Road, Sugar Grove, went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Wednesday afternoon, May 19, 2021, at his home.   

Arvel was born October 17, 1923 in Watauga County, a son of the late Roscoe and Mamie Edna Dishman Millsaps.  He was a member of Timbered Ridge Baptist Church, married his wife Pauline in 1943, and was drafted into the United States Army in 1944, he was a WWII veteran, he retired from Appalachian State University, farmed and gardened well into his nineties. He loved his Lord and Savior, his family, his church family, and neighbors.  

Survivors include, his son,  Dana A. Millsaps, and wife Pam, two daughters, Reba Farthing and Kathy Eldreth and her husband Denver, all of Sugar Grove,  two sisters, Julie Parks and Betty Younce of Toledo, Ohio, a brother, Allen Millsaps, and wife Gail of Sugar Grove, nine grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren, six great-great grandchildren, and one great-great-great grandchild.  He is also survived by a number of nieces, nephews, and numerous extended family, and friends. 

In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his wife of seventy five years, Pauline Presnell Millsaps, two sisters, Rachel Arnette, Kathryn Stapleton, twin infant siblings, a grandson, Keith Farthing, and a granddaughter, Terry Miller, a son in law, Darrell Farthing, and two brothers in law, Claude Stapleton and Dennie Parks.  

Funeral services for Arvel Lee Millsaps will be conducted Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 2:00 o’clock at Timbered Ridge Baptist Church. The body will lie in state from 1:00 until 2:00.  Pastor Derick Wilson, and Pastor Ray Greene will officiate.  Burial will follow in Timbered Ridge Baptist Church Cemetery.

The family will receive friends Friday evening, May 21, 2021 from 6:00 until 8:00, at Hampton Funeral Home Chapel.  At other times the family will be at his home.  

The family wishes to thank his caregivers, Lacey Eldreth Hicks, and Michelle Henson, CNA, Debbie, and all the staff of Medi-Home Hospice for their compassionate care.  

Flowers are appreciated or memorial contributions may be made to Timbered Ridge Baptist Church Cemetery Fund.   

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

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

Graeme Pomeroy Justice

February 15, 1947 – May 20, 2021

Graeme Pomeroy Justice, otherwise known as Blowing Rock’s “Grumpy Gardener”, has spaded away like all gardeners, do on this beautiful day, May 20, 2021 – he was 74. Save the Bees Day – how appropriate. Graeme served in the U.S. Army, (Combat Engineer). He attended UMass, earning a degree in Plant & Soil Sciences; he also attended New England School of Art. He worked on Royal Estate grounds for the Earl of Alesford in England; was a past member of the Royal Horticulture Society of Groundskeepers and United Famers Club U.K., and former New England Golf Course Superintendent Associate.

In his “hay-day”, he was a great dancer, chess champion, and a surfer & sailor off the coast of Cape Cod.

He is survived by his best friend, Mo, including Chris & Max; his sister, Leslie Cook of Greenfield, MA; brother-in-law, Ben Cook; nephew, Sam Cook, brothers-in-law, Todd Ruff of Clarkesville, GA; Kerry Ruff of White Top, VA; sister-in-law, Donna Ruff.

He was an avid Reader, Historian and Storyteller. He wanted to thank his customers, friends, Kayla & Andrew for being a part of his life. There are many trees, shrubs, plants & flowers all over Blowing Rock that he planted over the years. In his own words, “Hope they don’t have Hallmark movies where I am going. YEAH BABY!”

Memorial service & Celebration of Life at a later date this summer.

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

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

Maryann Barnett

December 27, 1946 – May 22, 2021

Mrs. Maryann Barnett, age 74, of Newport, NC and former resident of Boone, NC, died Saturday morning, May 22, 2021 at Duke Homecare and Hospice in Durham.

Born in McDowell County, West Virginia, she was a daughter of the late Gene French and Ruth Robinson Franklin.

She graduated from Goldsboro High School. While in public school, Maryann held numerous Baton Twirling trophies including several national and regional titles.

While attending NC State University, she was the featured and only Twirler for the marching band and performed in front of thousands of people. Maryann twice served as a coach for the National All Star Drill Team which performed in Hawaii and Dublin, Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day.

Maryann was a skilled Arts & Craft Instructor and was co-owner of an Arts and Craft store. She was an avid golfer, winning many tournaments and competitions.

She was a multi-talented person, loving Wife and adored Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother. She will be missed.

She is survived by her husband, George Wayne “Barney” Barnett; her two sons, Christopher Wayne Barnett and wife Christy Barnett of Greenville, NC; Morris Ted Barnett and wife Julie of Thomasville, NC; 6 Grandchildren and 3 Great-Grandchildren.

Graveside Services with burial will be conducted Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 2:00 PM at Mount Lawn Memorial Park with Reverend Gordon Noble officiating.

The family will receive friends from 1:00 until 1:45, at Hampton Funeral Home Chapel.

In lieu of flowers the family respectfully requests memorials be made to the Jimmy V. Foundation for Cancer Research, 14600 Weston Pkwy, Cary, NC 27513.

Online condolences may be sent to the Barnett Family at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com

Hampton Funeral Service of Boone is in charge of arrangements.

Charles “Chuck” William Blevins

April 19, 1944 – May 21, 2021

 Charles “Chuck” William Blevins, age 77, of Boone, passed away Friday, May 21, 2021.

Mr. Blevins was born April 19, 1944 in Washington County, Virginia to the late Elihu and Ethel Blevins. He was a Navy Veteran having served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. He was a master mason for 30 years and a member of the local DAV.

He is survived by his wife, Sheryl Blevins of Boone; one brother, Robert Eugene Blevins and wife Linda of Damascus, Virginia; one sister, Sue Gregory and husband Tom of Cabot Arkansas; one stepson, Greg Hill and wife Casie of Vilas, North Carolina; one step daughter, Kari Hill of Gresham, Oregon; one grandson, Wyatt Hill of Vilas, North Carolina and one Granddaughter, Sarah Broersma and husband Bryan of Battleground, Washington. He is also survived by one niece and three nephews.

In addition to his father and mother he was preceded in death by one brother, James Blevins and one niece.

A memorial service for Charles “Chuck’ William Blevins will be conducted  11:00 o’clock Thursday, June 3, 2021 at Mount Lawn Memorial Park and Gardens. Military honors will be provided by American Legion Post 130 and DAV Chapter 90.

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

Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements

Clate Miller

September 26, 1932 – May 23, 2021

Mr. Clate Miller, age 88, of Todd, passed away Sunday, May, 23, 2021.

He was born September 26, 1932 in Watauga County to the late William Claude Miller and Ruth Greene Miller. 

He is survived by one daughter, Cathy Kincaid and husband Tony of Todd; one son, Clayton Miller and wife Jean of Boone; five grandchildren, Arlie Miller, Toni Lee Messina and husband Mike, Michelle Miller and husband Tim, Kelly Lincoln and husband Luke and Jason Miller, and one great-grandchild, Triton Lincoln, and fourteen grandchildren. He is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews.

In addition to his father and mother he was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth Greer Miller, one son, Carl Miller, one step-son, Wayne Wheeler and three daughters, Jean Hardy, Jewell Miller and Patricia Miller, one brother, Clarence Miller, and one sister, Eda Ellison.

A private service for Mr. Clate Miller will be conducted.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Hopewell Community Church care of Barbara McKinney, 5585 NC Highway 194 North, Boone, North Carolina 28607.

The family respectfully request no food.

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

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

David Rash

May 8, 1965 – May 16, 2021

David Rash, age 56 of Greensboro, NC was born May 8, 1965, and he passed away peacefully on May 16, 2021 at Moses Cone Hospital.

David returned to North Carolina after living and working in Naples Florida for over 30 years.

David was an employee of Landmark Builders, Inc. since September 2019 as a job superintendent.

David leaves behind to cherish his memory his sons Magnus and Amadeus and his two step-daughters Megan Heinen and Celeste Benson (Schuler). His mother Delores Church Rash, sisters Jennifer Haymore (Michael) and Susan Rash. Nieces Lauren Haymore, Jessica Hughes Crawford; Nephews Joshua Currie and Kevin Currie. Great-niece Alyssa Hughes. Uncle Bob Church of Newland, North Carolina. Numerous cousins.

David was a dedicated father to his sons and step-daughters.

Graveside service for David Rash will be held on Friday, May 21, 2021 beginning at 1:30PM in the Newland Cemetery.

The family will receive friends beginning at 12:00PM – 1:00 PM at Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home.

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

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

Peggy Cornett McCumber

November 30, 1932 – May 22, 2021

On the evening of May 22, 2021, at the age of 88, Peggy Cornett McCumber

slipped ever so peacefully from this life to enter into her eternal home in Heaven. Although, she succumbed to Alzheimer’s, after living with the devastating disease for 20 years, Peggy will be remembered for her witty and clever personality. She always made a person feel at ease in her presence, treating them like family. In fact, during the 11 years that she resided at the Cranberry House, she was fondly referred to as “Mamaw.”

Peggy was a native of Avery County and spent most of her time there, with the exception of a 10 span when she lived in Madisonville, KY with her husband Bob. She was the daughter of the late founding pastor and well-known Bishop James & Ethel Nance Cornett, of the Church of Jesus Christ, in Newland, where she was a lifelong member and sang and played the guitar. She was a very talented woman and even wrote a few songs. In fact, a prominent singer-songwriter was visiting the church and heard her sing one night and commented about her beautiful, unique voice and that she should go into recording! Apart from her music ability, Peggy was very prudent and got her real-estate license when she was in her late forties, working until Alzheimer’s ended her career.

In addition to her parents, Peggy is also preceded in death by her husband, Robert McCumber, her sister, Marie Cornett, and two special nieces: Patsy Owens Hartley and Rena Owens Valentine. She had five furry children that preceded her, as well: King, Fifi, Pierre, Bobo and Count. Even though she was an avid dog lover, Peggy’s proudest achievement was her children and grandchildren. Family meant everything to her and those that are left behind to cherish the memory of her outgoing personality and many talents are:

Daughters Diane Jaynes (Roy) and Judy Owens Vines.

Grandsons: Jeff Jaynes (Rena), Jerry (Amanda)

Granddaughters: Stacie Hartley Stewart (Phil), and Tammy Calhoun Marshall

Great-grandsons: Jared Jaynes, Bryce Jaynes, Kyle Jaynes, Hayden Jaynes, Benji Stewart, Timmy Stewart (Hollie), James Stewart (Savannah), and Neyland Marshall.

Great-great grandson: Harrison Stewart

The care Additionally, Peggy had more family members that loved her and will cherish her memory:

Step-daughter Judy McCumber Thornton (Dwayne)

Step-granddaughters Nicole Harris (Tommy), and Barbara Downing (Jesse).

Great-granddaughters Emma & Ella Harris

Great-grandsons Logan Blair and Ryan Downing

Celebration of life for Peggy McCumber will be conducted at Church of Jesus Christ in Newland, Monday evening at 7:00 pm with her grandson Rev. Jeff Jaynes and Pastor Dave Atkins, officiating. Other family members will give tribute to their mother and grandmother, as well.

Visitation will be 5:30 til 7:00 pm.

Pall bearers are: Jared Jaynes, Bryce Jaynes, Kyle Jaynes, Benji Stewart, Timmy Stewart, and James Stewart. Honorary pall bearers are Hayden Jaynes and Casey Hartley.

Graveside service will be Tuesday, May 25th, at 10:30 am, at the Church of Jesus Christ Cemetery, on White Pine Road, Newland.

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

of Peggy and her family has been entrusted to Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland.

Willamae Sluder

July 17, 1931 – May 24, 2021

Willamae Johnson Sluder, age 89, of Newland, North Carolina passed away on Monday, May 24, 2021 at the Life Care Center of Banner Elk.

She was born on July 17, 1931 in Avery County, North Carolina, a daughter of the late William Anderson Johnson and the late Aubry “Sis” Cornett Johnson.

Willamae liked music, loved to sing around the house, canning and spending time in her flower garden. She was a member of the Vale Freewill Baptist Church and sang in the choir. She enjoyed watching TV, reading and her pets.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her Son, Roger Sluder; Six Brothers, Ballard Johnson, Leonard Johnson, James Johnson, John Johnson, Emmett Johnson, Lonnie Johnson; Four Sisters, Thousa Trice, Myrtle Hodges, Juanita Hodges, Margaret Ledford.

Willamae leaves behind to cherish her memory her husband, Ronald Sluder of the home; Daughter, Roxann Smith of Elizabethton, TN; daughter-in-law, Cindy Sluder of Roanoke, VA; grandchildren, Tim Palmer, Nikki (Christopher) Smith Carr, Michael (Kirsten) Smith, Chris Sluder, Matt Sluder; great grandchildren, Bryson Smith, Carter Hannah, Israel Smith and Ansley Grayce Carr.

Services for Willamae Johnson Sluder will be held on Thursday, May 27, 2021 beginning at 7:00 pm from the Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home with Rev. Michael Sluder officiating. The family will receive friends beginning at 5:00 pm on Thursday evening at Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home.

Family, friends, and pallbearers will gather at the funeral home on Friday, May 28 at 10:00 am to go in procession to the Ashley Cemetery for interment. Pallbearers will be: Christopher Carr, Tim Palmer, Michael Smith, Chris Sluder, Matt Sluder and Bryson Smith.

The family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the wonderful and caring staff of Life Care Center of Banner Elk.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation or to St. Judes Children’s Hospital.

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

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