We remember COVID-19 victims
Published 2:36 pm Friday, April 2, 2021
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CARL WARD was born on April 27, 1938 and died on March 10, 2021. Carl attended Friendship FWB Church and he loved church and Pastor Danny Osborne. He had two sons, three grandchildren, one brother and one sister.
EMORY L. “JACK" LITTLE, 96, Elizabethton, died November 22, 2020. Emory lived in the West Side Community and was married to Dorothy L. Little for 74 years. He worked at North American Rayon Corporation for 47 years.
DOROTHY LEE WARD, 86, died November 17, 2020. She was a resident of Life Care Center of Elizabethton. Prior to going to the nursing home, she was a homemaker.
GLADYS SMITH MAST, 98, died October 15, 2020. She lived in Elizabethton. Gladys sold World Book Encyclopedias and was mother to three daughters.
BILLY BROOME, 92, Elizabethton, who lived in the East Side and North Main Street communities, died July 26, 2020. Bill was a U.S. Army Veteran of the Korean War. He sold snack foods and was a self-employed wallpaper hanger and painter. Bill was a member of East Side Baptist Church.
MARY GEORGIA BLEVINS, 86, Tiger Creek Community, died December 31, 2020. She was a beloved mother to her children, Becky and Randy Blevins.
JUDY TAYLOR, 75, died November 26, 2020. She married Pete Taylor on July 19, 1996 (forever soulmate). She loved spending time with her family. She was an ETSU graduate and accountant and was an active member of East Side Freewill Baptist Church. She loved camping at Douglas Lake and going to hear music anywhere Pete was playing.
MAEBELLE HICKS, 81, died January 6, 2021. She was an active member of Friendship FWB Church. She loved to help people and cook. She had one son, three grandchildren, one brother and one sister.
THOMAS WILLIAM "BILL" CRAWFORD, 86, died September 21, 2020. He had lived in Elizabethton since 1969 and was the owner of Crawford Drywall, Inc. and Lynn Valley Decorating Center. Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia. He left behind three daughters and their families.
WAYNE “GOAT" ROUSE, 71, Valley Forge Community, died November 6, 2020. He was a supervisor for Snap-On Tools where he retired after 27-1/2 years. Wayne was a loving husband, father, and grandfather and a wonderful provider for his family. He was married to Dicie Harper Rouse for 51 years. He was the father of four children and had five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was a graduate of Hampton High School.
REECE COLE, Elizabethton, died July 26, 2020. Reece was raised on the WJ Cole Family Farm in Stoney Creek, which has been in the family for more than 100 years. During his junior year at Unaka High School, Reece was drafted into the Army and served in World War II. After returning home, he completed his education, graduating from Steed Business College in 1950. Before graduation he was hired at Taylor Construction Co., later known as Summers-Taylor Inc. He served as Secretary-Treasurer for 43 years. From 1963-1965 he represented Carter County in the Tennessee House of Representatives. “Pal,” as he was known by most of his friends, was a charter member of Unaka Baptist Church and later joined First Baptist Church, Elizabethton, where he served as Treasurer for 18 years. He was also a member of the Elizabethan Kiwanis Club. He had two sons.
BETTY CLARK SLEMP, 81, of the Happy Valley Community, died December 13, 2020. Betty graduated from Happy Valley High School and Emory and Henry College. She taught and retired from the Carter County School System, having taught at Central Elementary, Happy Valley Elementary and in Bristol, Va. She started the first after school program at Happy Valley Elementary. She loved her children and dedicated her life to them. She was a member of Watauga Point United Methodist Church.
WILLIAM H. “BILL" DAVIS, 74, Hunter Community, died November 19, 2020. He was welding instructor for 35 years at Happy Valley High School, and at the time of his death was serving as pastor of Biltmore Baptist Church. He had served as pastor of the church for 14 years. He was also involved in the Recovery Soldiers Ministry and Philippine Missions. He had a heart for people and enjoyed teaching. Bill was a servant and loved God. He also was a loving husband and father.
EDWIN M. NAVE, 77, Stoney Creek Community, died September 10, 2020. He was retired from Bristol Sears as operation manager and attended Caldwell Springs Baptist Church, where he was a deacon and Sunday School teacher.
PETER AND JO VOIGT, Powder Branch Community. Jo, 81, died December 29, 2020. She was a retired dental hygienist and was active in the Woman’s Club and American Legion Auxiliary. Pete, 84, died January 3, 2021. He was retired from National Fuel Gas in Buffalo, N.Y., and was active in the American Legion and other community functions. The couple moved to Carter County in 1998 from Buffalo, N.Y.
GRACE BRADSHAW MESEROLE, 80, Elizabethton, died January 25, 2021. She was a retired service representative at Sears.
RONALD “RON" MCCLOUD, 77, Elizabethton, died December 22, 2020. Ron was a driving force behind the Saturday night car shows in downtown Elizabethton. He was retired from Ford Motor Co. and was co-owner of Antiques on Elk in downtown Elizabethton. He was active in the Carter County Car Club and Elizabethton Kiwanis Club. Ron was a Gold Star Dad.
MARY LOU WETZEL, 74, Elizabethton, died July 29, 2020. She was a retired kindergarten teacher, having taught for 37 years in the Carter County School System, one year at Valley Forge Elementary and 36 years at Cloudland Elementary. She was active in her church at Grace Baptist, the DAR, and the Carter County-Elizabethton Retired Teachers Association.
Wilma Ann Colbaugh, 74, Elizabethton, died September 7, 2020. A graduate of Hampton High School, Wilma was caregiver for her son, Michael, all his life. She was a very loving and devoted mother and friend to many. In her younger years she was employed at the Sandwich Shop and Jiffy Dry Cleaners.
SIDNEY HAROLD COX, 58, Elizabethton, died January 14, 2021. He was a graduate of Elizabethton High School and ETSU. He had worked in city and county government for almost 30 years and at the time of his death was employed by the City of Kingsport as City Recorder and Chief Financial Officer. He previously served as Finance Director of the City of Elizabethton. Sid was a lifetime member of the Carter County Rescue Squad.
JOEY GRANT NAVE, 65, Elizabethton, died January 12, 2021. Joey graduated from Hampton High School, where he was an outstanding football player. He was retired from Mapes and was a member of Big Springs Baptist Church and the Wild Turkey Federation. He was an avid hunter of both turkey and deer.
CLYDE EDDIE FORBES, 63, Elizabethton, died November 8, 2020. He was a truck driver for 30 years and later owned Class Act Cycle Shop.
BRENDA HARTLEY, 64, Siam Community, died August 5, 2020. Brenda is survived by her husband, Dewey; daughters, Norma, Lorie and Ginia, and her grandchildren, Matthew, Jacob, Kaylee, Kristen and Joshua. She devoted her life to her family and raising her daughter. She loved the Lord.
KENNETH FRANKLIN JONES, 95, Central Community, died January 5, 2021. At age 15 he left his home on Beech Mountain, N.C., to work at the CCC Camp in North Carolina. He then enlisted in the Navy where he served on the USS Koiner, a destroyer escort in the South Pacific during World War II. He was on its maiden voyage October 5, 1943. After the war he came home and married Pearl Glover and had two children, Tony Jones and Ruthie Jones Terry. He worked for North American Rayon, retiring after 45 years of service. He was also an ordained minister. He pastored many churches in Carter County and Avery County, N.C. He also farmed, raising a garden and tobacco. He loved working and raising cows which he did until he was in his 80s. He died one day shy of two years exactly after his wife Pearl died. He died not understanding about the virus that took his life at Ivy Hall Nursing Home. His pastor, Alan King, was holding his hand when he died because his family couldn't be with him due to the virus.
DIANE COOKIE SNAVELY SLUDER, 62, Elizabethton, died January 21, 2021. She was a graduate of Elizabethton High School and was married 44 years to Charlie Sluder. Cookie was the mother of two children, Michelle Sluder and Jon Sluder, and had seven grandchildren, the loves of her life. She was a member of Biltmore Baptist Church.
FREIDA STOUT OLIVER, 76, Elizabethton, died December 19, 2020. She was a loving wife of 59 years, the mother of two, grandmother of four, and great-grandmother of six. She was a friend to many. Something she is most remembered for was her infectious laughter, big heart, and willingness to give of herself to those around her. She lived a life of love and devotion.
RONNIE AND JUDY BLEVINS, Elizabethton. Judy died December 8, 2020, and Ronnie died January 4, 2021. They lived in the Stoney Creek Community and were members of Moores Chapel Free Will Baptist Church. Ronnie retired from the Carter County Road Department and led the Southern Harmony Quartet. Judy worked for the county until a medical condition led to an early retirement.
GEORGE WILLIAM GWINN SR., Elizabethton, died December 2, 2020. George was a graduate of Elizabethton High School, where he played football and baseball. George, who had a B.S. degree in chemistry, worked for 38 years for DuBois Chemicals of Cincinnati, Ohio. He served for many years as President of the Keenburg Youth Club, and coached all four of his children in sports. He served on the board of Holston Home for Children in Greeneville and was a devoted member and usher at First United Methodist Church, Elizabethton. His smile was his trademark, and the joy of his life was his grandchildren.
DARRELL WALSH, 84, Elizabethton, died November 17, 2020. He retired from Sycamore Shoals Hospital after 20 years of service in the maintenance department. He was Employee of the Year in 1989. Darrell served in the U.S. Navy, Navy Reserves, and National Guard. He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather.
JOHN D. BACK JR., 86, Pinecrest, died December 6, 2020. He was a welder, pipe fitter and boilermaker as well as an avid hunter and fisherman for many years. He grew up in Virginia and Tennessee, but chose to raise his family in Carter County. John and his wife, Joan, were married 58 years and had four children, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. He was an accomplished oil painter and woodworker and was always ready to help a friend.
RICK CULLER, 59, Elizabethton, died November 9, 2020. He was an electrician/electrical sales at Cline-Holder. His wife said: "He never met a stranger and was the best advice giver. He never came across a problem he couldn’t solve or would give up on. He loved being outside and keeping his hands busy working on something. He always made sure that his wife and daughter knew how much he loved them and how proud he was of them. He was his wife’s soulmate and his daughter’s biggest cheerleader. He had a smile that would light up the room and that smile is so incredibly missed. We are praising God that we know we will see him again one day.”
PATRICIA ANN SLUDER RAY, 85, died January 2, 2021. She was a retired Warden Secretary at the Department of Correction. Prior to that she was employed at Tri-State Containers. Pat was a member of Valley Forge Free Will Baptist Church, and had served as pianist and worked with the Children’s & Youth Choirs at Valley Forge Free Will. She also had worked in the nursery. She was a loving wife, mother and friend.
FLOYD D. NAVE, 78, Elizabethton, died December 12, 2020. He was retired from the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center and had previously worked at North American Rayon Corporation. He was a member of First Free Will Baptist Church, where he served as chairman of the Deacons and was teacher of the Darrold White Sunday School Class. He was a United States Army veteran.
ROGER DALE LEDFORD, 70, Elizabethton, died January 29, 2021. He was retired from Kennametal, but enjoyed woking with friends at Bowers Auto Sales. He was a member of First Baptist Church, and he and his wife enjoyed fishing and biking together. He was also a member of the Carter County Car Club and enjoyed the downtown car shows in the summer. Roger was the best person I have ever known. He was kind, loving, sincere with character and dignity. Thank you of loving me and taking care of me. See you when I get there. Always in my heart. Your wife Claudia.
JAMES EDWARD “WILLIE" HOLSCLAW, 83, Elizabethton, died December 22, 2020. He retired from the City of Elizabethton and served as a consultant until his death. He was a member of Elizabethton Church of Christ where he served as an elder. He was a big fan of the Elizabethton Cyclones and enjoyed fishing, hunting, golfing, cooking and spending time with his family. He especially enjoyed making rum cakes as gifts to others.
BILLY BIRCHFIELD, 79, Roan Mountain, died February 19, 2021. His coaching and teaching career spanned nearly three decades with time spent at Unaka High School and Cloudland High School. In addition to his work in education, Birchfield enjoyed farming, going to livestock markets, and following the athletic careers of his sons and grandchildren.
REX ARDEN SIMERLY, 79, Elizabethton, died November 2, 2020. Rex retired from Winn-Dixie, where he was employed for 40 years. He then worked for Sam’s Club for 24 years. Rex was an active member of Oak Street Baptist Church, where he had been a choir member. He had worked in the Boy Scouts and served on the Human Rights Commission at Envision, Inc. Rex and his wife, Betty, played Santa Claus for many years for the individuals at Envision, Inc. In his spare time he enjoyed hunting and fishing. Rex and his wife had been married 58 years and are the parents of a daughter, Donna.
COY LANE, 77, Southside Community, died February 14, 2021. He retired as a HVAC installer. Coy was a veteran of the United States Navy and a member of Pinecrest Baptist Church. He enjoyed gardening, canning, watching westerns, fly-fishing, and spending time with his grandchildren listening to fishing stories. He is survived by his wife and three sons.
BLAINE EDWIN “EDDIE" TAYLOR, 84, Johnson City, died December 6, 2020. He was retired as senior vice president of Carter County Bank after 49 years of service. He was a U.S. Army veteran and a member of East River Park Christian Church, where he was serving as a deacon. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
This past year has been unlike any other. It has been a year of death and separation, and the culprit has been COVID-19. Today we remember those in our midst who have died due to COVID-19. The photos on these pages are only a fraction of the 156 lives lost locally to the infectious disease. The photos were submitted by family and friends.
All 156 persons were people who were loved and made a difference to someone. They were someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, friend, co-worker, etc.
Like so much else in life, the coronavirus upended business. Funeral directors — who at their best are a guide for the grieving — have had to rethink everything to help families say goodbye.
Doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks and delivery drivers, nursing home employees, and teachers have been among the most celebrated heroes of the global pandemic — and deservingly so. These essential workers, sometimes called first responders, have now worked in high risk environments for more than a year with little rest and little solace.
Less attention has been paid to the pandemic’s cast of last responders, who for the past year have quietly helped families find closure in unprecedented times.
“I guess the thing that bothers me most is that most of these died alone. No family there to hold their hand. In many instances, there was no one. Sometimes, a nurse or doctor,” said Junior Stalcup of Memorial Funeral Chapel.
Before the pandemic, funeral directors grappled with the most basic aspect of their jobs: how to conduct services safely. “COVID took away the opportunity to grieve together as a community,” said Stalcup. “We had to figure out how to help families during this time — a time when friends could not come together for funerals or viewings.”
COVID-19 in many instances canceled funeral services at churches. For the most part, it has been just a graveside service with family only. There was no receiving of friends…just a time to call at the funeral home and sign the book for guests.
“There has been one thing that has stood out for me. Many times as we made our way in the funeral procession down West G Street to Happy Valley Memorial Park, a small boy, probably no more than five years old, would run from his home down to the edge of his yard, and stand at attention and sometimes salute as the ambulance drove by. Those moments have really touched me,” Stalcup shared.
It’s not been an easy time for anyone. Nursing home residents were locked down for almost a year. They were unable to go out, families and friends were unable to come in. No haircuts, no church services, limited activities. Their only view of the outside world was through a window or via television. There were times when the days were long and there seemed no end to a pandemic which had changed everything.
Church changed. Services were held on-line or outside in the church parking lot. No choir, no songbooks in the pews, no Sunday School classes, no cantatas at Christmas, and very few Easter cantatas this Sunday.
Children attended school virtually. The library closed as did the local senior center.
Life as we knew it seemed to stand still.
Today, Easter Sunday, there is hope with the vaccine rollout. As the song from the Broadway musical Annie promised: “The sun will come out Tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that Tomorrow there’ll be sun. Just thinking about Tomorrow clears away the cobwebs, and the sorrow ’til there’s none!
“When I’m stuck in a day that’s gray and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin and say, oh the sun will come out Tomorrow. So ya gotta hang on ’Til Tomorrow!…”