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Watauga, Avery Obituaries – July 27, 2021

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

Betsy Willis

1927 – 2021

Betsy Lawson Willis, age 93, of Poplar Grove Road S., Boone, passed away July 17, 2021 at her home. 

Ms. Willis was born in South Boston, Virginia on July 28, 1927.  Her parents were Vivian Moseley Lawson and Abram Venable Lawson.  Her father died by drowning when she was 6 years old.

She graduated from Randolph Macon Women’s College (now Randolph College) in 1948 and took a bicycle tour of Europe to see the devastation of WWII.  She married Charles O. Willis in December of that year.  Together they tried farming and lived in Virginia, Florida, Maryland and Washington, DC.  Betsy taught school in Boydon, Virginia, and was briefly the principal there. 

She worked for the Minimum Wage Board in Washington, DC before her only child was born.  After that she was a volunteer host for international students, and drove for Meals on Wheels, was Junior and Senior Warden at St. Clement of Alexandria Episcopal Church, where she was active in adult Christian Education. 

She owned and managed an apartment building in Alexandria during the 70’s, learning a lot of construction skills. 

She was interested in genealogy and wrote two books about her family during that time. 

In her retirement she moved to Fayetteville, NC and then to Boone, where she taught writing for many years to women in correctional institutions in Tennessee and North Carolina.  She co-founded a mentorship program from women called Numina, and helped lead retreats for them, as well as mentoring individuals within the program.  She loved teaching Sunday school at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Boone, as well as taking her grandchildren on adventures.  She loved to write, and wrote many books about her life, as well as editing books for the St. Luke’s Community. 

 She is survived by her daughter, Mary Burton Willis, son in law, John Goodrich, Jr., 3 grandchildren: Adam Goodrich, Peter Coffey and Clara Coffey (Zachary Brindle), and 2 great grandchildren: Finley and Thea Brindle.  

Memorial services will be conducted Saturday morning, July 24, 2021 at 11 o’clock at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, officiated by Pastor Cindy Banks. 

Memorial gifts may be made to Amorem (formerly Caldwell Hospice) https://www.amoremsupport.org/ or to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church https://stlukesboone.org/ 

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

Kerry Vaughn Wilkinson

1957 – 2021

Kerry Vaughn Wilkinson, 63, formerly of Zionville, NC, passed away July 20, 2021 at Gateway Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Lenoir, NC.  Born September 21, 1957 in Fort Wayne, IN, Kerry was the son of George Charles (G.C.) and Louise (Greene) Wilkinson.  Kerry was a member of Willow Valley Missionary Baptist Church in Vilas, NC and loved going to his church, being an usher and having the responsibility of ringing the bell to let everyone know that Sunday school was over and the preaching was ready to begin.  He loved singing in the church choir and greeting everyone.  Kerry, with his mom, loved attending gospel “singing” and revivals across the area.  He made sure the lawn was mowed and, as his parents’ health deteriorated, Kerry became the chief transporter to get them to various doctor appointments and help with errands.  

He is survived by his sister, Tanya and Denny Miller of Leo, IN; one nephew, two nieces, six great nephews, and three great nieces; Aunt Jackie Thomas of Concord, NC; Uncle Eddie and Cretha (Dorsett) Greene of Ossian, IN; Aunt Phyllis (Greene) Swift and Russell Swift of Vilas; Uncle Kenny Greene of Vilas, NC; Aunt Kathy Greene and Lynn Greene of Mountain City, TN; and five cousins.  In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his grandparents, Fred and Coletta (Ward) Greene and Charles and Blanche (Greer) Wilkinson; Uncle George Thomas, Aunt Lois Greene; and one cousin. 

Funeral services will be conducted Saturday morning, July 24, at 11 o’clock, at the Willow Valley Baptist Church, 603 Phillips Branch Road, Vilas, NC, officiated by Pastor Ray Greene.  The family will receive friends Saturday morning from 10 until 11 o’clock, one hour prior to services, at the church.  Graveside services will follow at the Zionville Baptist Church Cemetery, 8174 Old US Hwy. 421, Zionville, NC 28698. 

In Lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to Willow Valley Missionary Baptist Church or to Amorem (formerly Caldwell) Hospice & Palliative Care, 902 Kirkwood St., NW, Lenoir, NC 28645. 

Online condolences may be shared at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com

Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Wilkinson family

Donna Lee Duke

1935 – 2021

Donna Lee Snyder Duke died at age 86 on July 22, 2021, at Deerfield Assisted Living in Boone, NC. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Donna was raised by her mother Margaret, a fiercely independent woman, and her Aunt Stella, Donna’s beloved role model in community activism. During her childhood, Donna and her mother moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. She later earned a bachelor’s in history from UNC-Greensboro and a master’s in history from UNC-Chapel Hill. She worked for a year in Germany and spent another as a graduate exchange student in Denmark. She and then husband Dan lived for six years in Bozeman, Montana, before they moved to Boone, where she earned another master’s in geography and an Ed.S. in education from Appalachian State. In a small town with limited career options, Donna tried her hand at various jobs, including working for Elder Hostel, a brief stint in real estate, and many years for H & R Block. She was a regular for the water aerobics class with Watauga County Recreation, made music with the Bluebirds Recorder Group, and sometimes got work done within the UFO (UnFinished Objects) crafting group. 

Donna is best remembered for her conviction that citizenship carries with it the responsibility to engage in her community and to be an active participant in the democratic process. This translated into 40 years of active involvement in the League of Women Voters, 20 years as a Girl Scout volunteer, ten years on the Watauga County Planning Board, 25 years as volunteer weaving teacher at the Watauga Senior Center, and over 40 years of community service with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. A 2016 Hall of Fame inductee in honor of her activism for the Watauga Dems, Donna put in countless hours for political and environmental action all the way back to the 1977 Region D Council lawsuit, which was grounded in this premise, found in her archives: “We believe strongly that the central question is control of government by the citizens through elected representation that is accountable to the citizenry.” Her lifetime of engagement epitomizes how and why citizens can hold their representatives accountable. Donna was known as a persistent questioner of why things were the way they were, and why they weren’t better.

Donna is survived by her son Miles Duke, daughter-in-law Cynthia, grandchildren Elizabeth and Alexandra of Atlanta; daughter Cama Duke, son-in-law Frank, grandchildren Maggie, Annie, and Joey of Boone; brother Graham Snyder, sister-in-law Liz, niece Renate of Portsmouth, OH; and friend/former husband of 37 years Dan Duke and his wife Susan of Vilas.

A celebration of life will take place at a later time. Memorial gifts may be made to the League of Women Voters www.lwv.org.

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

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

Doyle Hardy James

1938 – 2021

Doyle Hardy James, affectionately known as ‘Yogi’ age 83, of NC Highway 194 South, Vilas, peacefully entered eternity on Thursday afternoon, July 22, 2021 to be with his Lord and Savior and with his family members at his side.  Born May 15, 1938 in Watauga County, he was a son of Dewey Edward and Dosha Edith Bentley James.  Doyle served as a Deacon, Sunday school teacher and choir member at Willow Valley Baptist Church for many years.  He loved to play and sing with ‘Highway 194’, his blue grass band. On most occasions, they performed at Mast Store in Valley Crucis. Doyle worked for West Wood Furniture Co. in High Point and Shadowline in Boone.  He retired from the Watauga Medical Center Police Department.  A gentle man, Doyle was loved by his entire family, friends and acquaintances. 

Doyle is survived by his wife of 62 years, Betty Wilson James; and was a beloved brother of Dean James of Trinity, Dennis James and wife, Carlene, of Mountain City, TN, Delmar James of Boone, Dimple Little and husband, Dan, of Zionville and Doris James of Boone and Sun City, AZ.  A number of nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews also survive. 

Funeral services will be conducted Sunday afternoon, July 25th, at 3:30 at Willow Valley Baptist Church, officiated by Pastor Ray Greene and Rev. Delmar James.  The family will receive friends Sunday afternoon from 2 until 3:30, prior to services, at the church.  Graveside services will follow at Willow Valley Baptist Church Cemetery. 

Flowers are appreciated or memorials may be made to the Willow Valley Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, in care of Brandon Greer, 436 Clark Swift Rd., Vilas, NC 28692.

Online condolences may be shared at austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com

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

Joyce Reese

1949 – 2021

Joyce Tester Reese, age 72, of Rush Branch Rd., Sugar Grove, passed away Thursday morning, July 22, 2021 at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem. 

Born July 18, 1949 in Watauga County, she was a daughter of Doughton Charles and Frances Norris Tester.  She was a member of Calvary Baptist Church.  Joyce loved her Lord and was eager to share that love with others and always willing to fill prayer requests by family and friends. She loved her family beyond measure, and with patience, taught them Christian values and work ethics. In her spare time, she loved playing the piano, shape note singing or reading. 

Joyce retired from Appalachian State University as the Administrative Assistant in the College of Education. 

She is survived by her husband of 53 years, Hite Dale Reese; sons, Duane Reese and wife, Misti and Wayne Reese, all of Vilas; daughter, Selena Dollar of Bethel; brothers, Len (L D) Tester and wife, Catherine and Terry Tester, all of Sugar Grove; sisters, Janice Ashley and husband George, of Mountain City, TN and Nadine Harris and husband, Roger, of Shelby; grandchildren, Nicole Dollar, Elizabeth Farmer and husband, Jeremiah, Madi Dollar, Alex Reese and wife, Sydney, and Casey and Dalton Reese; great granddaughter, Magnolia Farmer; and her father-in-law, C. B. Reese of Vilas. A number of nieces and nephews also survive.

Funeral services for Joyce Reese will be conducted Monday afternoon, July 26th, at 2 o’clock, at Calvary Baptist Church, officiated by Pastor Jeremy Hull.  The body will lie in state at the church from 1 until 2 o’clock.  Graveside services will follow in the Lower Beaver Dam Cemetery. 

Flowers are appreciated or the family suggests memorials to Calvary Baptist Church Building Fund, in care of Tommy Lawrence, 636 John Shell Rd., Sugar Grove, NC 28679.

Online condolences may be shared at austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com

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

Amanda Sue Rattler

1992 – 2021

Amanda Sue Rattler passed away on July 24th at Carolina’s Medical Center, Charlotte, surrounded by the ones she loved.

         Amanda was born in Watauga County to Johnny & Betty Ellison on September 16th 1992. She was married to her loving husband Tristin Rattler on August 3rd 2015. Together they have one daughter Briley Mae Rattler and Amanda was a loving stepmother to Daniel Robert Rattler.  Amanda showed love to all she met and had a passion for family, friends and animals. 

                 Amanda is survived by husband Tristin Rattler, daughter Briley Rattler and step son Daniel Rattler. Also survived by her parents Johnny and Betty Ellison, grandmother; Sue Ward; brother Chris Ellison & daughter Aubrey; Aunts Rita Carter & Husband Richard; Susie Woodard & husband Steven. Uncles William Ward & Wife Stephanie, daughter Elizabeth and son Nick. Burl Ward & Wife Beth, daughter Makenzie.  Randy Ellison, Donnie Ellison, Jeff Canter & wife Vicky. Cousins; Christy Canter w/daughter Natalee, Ricky Canter w/daughter Raelyn.  Brittney Barber, Ashley Canter and Heather Love.  Mother and father in-law Charlotte and Dennis Hodges, grandmother Rose Phillips, Brother in-law Mitch Rattler & children Montana, Noah and Oaklee Rattler. Aunt Theresa Myers and husband Jeff, Uncle Robert Phillips, aunts and uncles Tammy and Craig Sowers and Dawn and Colin Stierstorfer,  and a number of cousins, nieces and nephews. 

 She was  preceded in death by two grandfathers, Don Ellison and JB Ward.  One grandmother Verlee Canter and father in-law Mickey Rattler.

Services for Amanda Sue Rattler will be conducted Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. in Austin & Barnes Funeral Home Chapel. Rev. Eric Proffitt will officiate.The family will receive friends prior to the services from 1:00p.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

Online condolences may be shared with Amanda’s family at the website www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.

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

Christina Harmon

July 17, 1962 – July 19, 2021

Christina Lynn Harmon, age 59, of China Grove, North Carolina passed away on Monday, July 19, 2021 at her home. Christina was born January 17, 1962 in Rowan County and was the daughter of the late Henry Edward Overcash and Willie Irene Andrews Overcash.

Christina was a longtime member of Mount Hope Church. In her spare time, she enjoyed working puzzles and spending time with her dog, Buster.

Those left to cherish her memory are her husband of 35 years, Henry Harmon of the home. She also leaves behind her brother, Jerry Overcash and his wife, Patricia, along with several nieces and nephews, as well as her dog, Buster, and many friends in Watauga County.   

A visitation for Christina will be held Friday, July 23, 2021 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM at Mount Hope Church, 7004 Old Concord Road, Salisbury, NC. Funeral Service will follow at 2:00pm officiated by Pastor Johnny Boggs. Burial in Mount Hope Church Cemetery will immediately follow.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.linn-honeycutt.com for the Harmon family, or www.hamptonfuneralnc.com

Announcement courtesy of Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service.  

Robert John Zaleski

November 24, 1953 – July 21, 2021

After a 6 month battle with a terminal brain tumor, my father Rob Zaleski has passed away at the age of 67. He died suddenly yesterday after two pulmonary emboli were discovered in both his lungs. His oxygen was extremely low when we arrived at the ER Tuesday night and they did a cat scan and began blood thinners. We had a wonderful full week planned of memory making and they said he would be going home as soon as they’d made sure he was stable. I was so relieved. I thought he was declining from the cancer even though he had an estimated 10 months left and was so grateful the decline was actually something treatable. I spent the night reading to him his favorite of the children’s books he used to read to me and John when we were little. The last one I read to him was entitled, wherever you go, my love will find you.

I told him death couldn’t separate us and we would always be together. He told me he had felt so close to his own father ever since he’d passed, like he was always with him. I kissed him on the head and told him I loved him and would see him in the morning. He was so lucid and clear now that he was on oxygen. We were so connected. I called the hospital when I woke up and they said he was stable and in great spirits and a delightful patient. I asked them to tell him i was on my way. On my way out the door, they called and said everything had changed and they were doing CPR. Almost at the hospital they said they had been at it for 30 minutes and it was futile after 20. I begged them to keep going till I got there. As i ran into the room with my mom and brother on speaker phone, he still barely had a pulse. I told him he wasn’t alone and I was with him and loved him so much. My mom told him to go in peace and they would understand each other on the other side. And then he passed. My brother got to say goodbye over video chat. He was scheduled already to arrive 36 hours later for a visit and will arrive tonight to mourn with my mom and me in Boone, North Carolina.

The last years of my Dads life, he had found immense healing and peace. He told me he finally had the deep revelation that God liked him at his core, and he had been able to find forgiveness he’d been looking for his whole life. He made new deep friendships and was loved by so many people around him. We shared 5 months of the deepest phone calls and visits most families get. I loved him more the day he died than I had ever loved him before. Dad, the hole inside of me is immense and I will carry the grief of you inside me forever. John and I will always love you and think of you every time a mourning dove coos. You were the most dynamic and diverse man I’ve ever known. No father ever loved his children more than you do. Be at peace. There is no more suffering or pain. I love you.

Robert spent his last years working in rural areas of Kentucky to help residents find God and find freedom from Meth and addiction. His work is carried on by a newly planted church he helped lay the groundwork for. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to this life changing ministry. Checks can be made out to The Kings Korner House of Worship and mailed to 7057 KY 15 S, Campton, KY, 41301.

Online condolences may be sent to the Zaleski family at www.hamptonfuneralservice.com

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

Deseray Denise Andersondeiters

July 18, 2000 – July 21, 2021

Deseray Denise Andersondeiters, age 21, of Boone, passed away Sunday, July 21, 2021.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced.

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

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

Clayton Wooten

August 15, 1942 – July 22, 2021

Clayton Wooten, a retired school principal of Wewahitchka, Florida passed away Thursday, July 22, 2021 at Watauga Medical Center.

He is survived by his wife, Sara Joe Bateman Wooten, a son, Clayton Brooke Wooten and wife Kristin, a daughter, Ashley Nicole Wooten and three grandchildren, Aleah Wooten, Caden Wooten and Hadley Davidson all of Wewahitchka, Florida.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Bateman-Wooten Scholarship Fund at Wewahitchka High School, 1 Gator Circle, Wewahitchka, Florida 32465 or to the First United Methodist Church Care Closet Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 265 Wewahitchka, Florida 32465.

Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service of Boone, N.C. is in charge of the arrangements.

Billie Parks Stines

March 03, 1941 – July 26, 2021

Billie Parks Stines, 80, of Sugar Grove passed away Monday, July 26, 2021 at Glenbridge Health and Rehab.

She is survived by one son, Pete Kaczmarczyk of Wilkesboro and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, James T. Stines, one son, Randy Parks two brothers, James Edward Parks and David Parks and four sisters, Bessie Younce, Georgia Harmon, Nancy Brown and Bertha Shew.

Graveside services and burial will be conducted Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 3:00 o’clock at Willow Valley Baptist Church Cemetery. Reverend Ray Greene and Reverend Tim Bunten will officiate.

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

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

Robert Henry “Bob” Harmon

October 08, 1940 – July 26, 2021

Robert Henry “Bob” Harmon, age 80, of Ray Brown Road, Boone, passed away Monday, July 26, 2021 at his residence.

Mr. Harmon was born October 8, 1940 in Watauga County. The son of the late Raymond and Cleata Jones Harmon. 

He is survived by his wife, JoAnn Perry Harmon of the home, and two grandsons, Christopher Harmon and Patrick Harmon both of Marion, North Carolina.

In addition to his father and mother he was preceded in death by one son, Brad Harmon and one brother, Charles Harmon.

Graveside services and burial will be conducted Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Jont-Brown Cemetery. Reverend Mike Townsend will officiate.

The family will receive friends following the service.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Amorem Hospice, 902 Kirkwood Street, Lenoir, North Carolina 28645.

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

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

Wilma Sue Duckworth

January 15, 1934 – July 25, 2021

Wilma Sue Duckworth, age 87, of Newland, North Carolina passed away on Sunday, July 25, 2021 at the Watauga Medical Center.

Sue was born on January 15, 1934 in Avery County, North Carolina, a daughter of the late William Waites McKinney and the late Odie Oaks McKinney.

She liked to cook and can, quilting, and making baby doll clothes. She enjoyed watching football and taking care of her family. Sue worked for many years as cook in several restaurants, including the Little Kitchen, Squirrel Creek Fish Camp and also worked at Life Care in Banner Elk and the Cannon Memorial Hospital.

She was preceded in death by her Father, William Waites McKinney; Mother, Odie Elizabeth McKinney; Second Husband, Ray Columbus Duckworth, First Husband, Charles Wayne Smith; Two Sisters, Anna Lee Shook and JoRita Wise.

Sue leaves behind to cherish her memory Three Sons, Chuck (Debbie) Smith of Newland, NC, Tony (Belinda) Smith of Johnson City, TN, Kevin Duckworth of Newland, NC; Daughter, Peggy Elizabeth (Sterlin) Perkins of Roan Mountain, TN; Two Sisters, Lucy Shook of Blowing Rock, NC, Hazel (Hughey) Pyatte of Foscoe, NC; Brother, Ray (Peggy) McKinney of Banner Elk, NC; six grandchildren; seven great grandchildren (with two on the way).

Graveside services for Wilma Sue Duckworth will be held on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 beginning at 3:00 p.m. at the Forest Home Community Cemetery with Pastor Poncho Guichard officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: American Diabetes Association.

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

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