Obituaries of the Swannanoa Valley

Black Mountain News
Charles Tate

Charles August Gekeler Tate

Black Mountain

Charles August Gekeler Tate, 83, of Black Mountain, passed away Friday, September 16, 2016 at Universal Health Care Facility in Fletcher, Buncombe County, North Carolina.  Born  on November 26, 1932 at Boise, Ada County, Idaho,  he was the son of David Gekeler Tate and Signe Beate Amelie Peterson Tate.

Mr Tate  attended public school in Boise.  He entered the University of Idaho at Moscow (ID) and graduated with a BS in Dairy Management in 1956 and was a Dairy Inspector for several years before moving to North Idaho in 1979 and to Black Mountain in 1995.

Mr. Tate met his future bride, Betty Denise McLean of Spokane, Washington in college and they married in December 1959.  Before Mrs Tate's death in 2012, they celebrated 53 years of marriage. Surviving Mr. Tate are  3 children, David Charles Tate, Laura Beth Tate Payne of Black Mountain and Brenna Signe Tate Lyons of Black Mountain, as well as 12 Grandchildren: Nathanael david Tate Lyons 26 of Black Mountain, William Wallace Lyons 24 of Black Mountain, Laura Elisabeth Payne 24 of Williamsburg, VA, Stuart McLean Lyons 22 of Charlotte, NC, Wyatt Sutherland Payne 22 , Clayton Thomas Payne 20 , Robert Alexander Lyons 20, Katherine Elise Lyons 18 of Black Mountain, Emily Caroline Payne 18, Austin O'Neill Payne 16, Victoria Louisa Lyons 9, Alexandra Signe Lyons 9, all of Black Mountain, and 2 brothers William David Tate & Carl Robert Tate both of Boise, ID.

Mr Tate, with his wife, Betty were members of  Lakey Gap Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Tate's funeral will be 10 a.m. Saturday. Sept. 24 (viewing is from 9-10 a.m.) at Lakey Gap Presbyterian Church, Pastor Martin Payne officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of Harwood Funeral Home.

Edna A. Hollifield Jones


Edna A. Hollifield Jones, 91, of Swannanoa,  passed away Saturday, September 10, 2016 at her residence.

Ms. Jones was born May 16, 1925, in Yancey County, NC, the daughter of the late Riley Hollifield and Bertha Silver Hollifield. Ms. Jones was retired from Drexel Heritage. In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her son, Riley Dodd, 4 brothers, and 1 sister.

Survivors include her children, Delores Nelon of Black Mountain, Steve Dodd and wife Becky of Grier, SC, Ronnie Dodd, Ricky Dodd and wife Katie of Swannanoa, and Keva Smith of Knoxville, TN; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The family received friends from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at Penland Family Funeral Home. A funeral service, officiated by Pastor Randy Stone, was held at 1:00 pm in the funeral home chapel. Interment followed at Mountain View Memorial Park, Black Mountain, NC.

Online condolences may be made at

  Robert Paul Keene


Robert Paul Keener, 88, passed away peacefully Wednesday, September 14 at Givens Estates, Asheville, North Carolina.

He is survived by his son, Stephen (Tonya) of Charlotte; grandchildren, Andrew of Chicago, IL, and Margaret of Chapel Hill, NC; brothers, R. Gene Keener of Millersville, MD and David Keener (Cathy) of Jacksonville, FL; brother-in-law, Joe M. Williams (Janet) of Albuquerque, NM; five nieces and nephews; and a host of cousins.

He was predeceased by his wife, Jo Anne; his daughter, Kristen; and his sister, Marilyn.

A service to worship God and give thanks for his life will be held in December at Warren Wilson College Presbyterian Church and College Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Robert P. and Jo Anne Williams Keener Scholarship at Warren Wilson College.

Peggy O. Buckner

Black Mountain

Peggy O. Buckner, 79, of Black Mountain passed away Thursday, September 15, 2016.

Mrs. Buckner was born June 11, 1937 in Bristol, VA to the late Joe and Ruth Harr Odell.

Peggy was very active within her community, volunteering with the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce, Sourwood Festival, Black Mountain Christmas Parade in which she was a past Grand Marshall and the Swannanoa Valley Museum.  She was a recipient of the John Abernethy Award given by the Rotary Club as well as several awards given by the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce.

She is survived by her husband, John Buckner and several cousins in Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA.

A Celebration of Life Service was be held Sunday, September 18, 2016 at 2 p.m. in the chapel of Harwood Home for Funerals.  The family received friends immediately following the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Swannanoa Valley Museum, 223 W. State St., Black Mountain, NC 28711; Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce, 201 E. State St., Black Mountain, NC, 28711; Givens Highland Farms, 200 Tabernacle Rd., Black Mountain, NC 28711; or CarePartners Hospice, PO Box 25338, Asheville, NC 28813.

Arrangements by Harwood Home for Funerals,

Shirley Gunn

Shirley Sample Gunn

Black Mountain

Shirley Ann Sample Gunn, 86, died September 15, 2016 in the care of loved ones at her home at Givens Highland Farms in Black Mountain.

Born November 14, 1929 in Lexington, Kentucky, the only child of Lee Drury and Denzil “Bo” Sample, Shirley grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee, and graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1947. Friendships formed at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (Class of 1951) sustained her throughout her life; she took great pleasure in attending her 65th college reunion this year. Shirley’s love of children and early childhood education led her to teach and direct pre-schools for 19 years.

Strong faith and love of people anchored her activities as a lifelong volunteer and her commitment to her church, Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, and her community. She served as a founding member of University Presbyterian Church (Houston, Texas), and as an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown (NY) and Clemmons Presbyterian Church (NC). The joy of her life was her family and children.

Preceded in death by her husband, Rev. Dr. James Woodside Gunn (1997), and her son, James Woodside Gunn, Jr. (1973), she is survived by children Jennifer Lee Gunn, Christopher Sample Gunn, and Rebecca Wise Gunn, and grandchildren Nathaniel Gunn Arnold, Thomas Michael Francum, Elizabeth Gunn Arnold, Evan Gunn Whitaker, and Levi James Whitaker, brother- and sister-in-law George and Sally Gunn, brother-in-law Charles Gunn, and many beloved nieces and nephews.

A celebration of her life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, September 24, 2016 at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church with reception following. Memorials may be sent to Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry (101 N. Ridgeway Ave., Black Mountain, NC  28711); Black Mountain Presbyterian Church Weekday School Scholarship Fund (117 Montreat Rd., PO Box 39, Black Mountain, NC  28711); or CarePartners Hospice General Fund,

Verniece Cecilia Giroux Bailey


Verniece Cecilia Giroux Bailey, of Asheville, passed away at home on the evening of August 11, 2016, with Bob, her husband of 73 years, holding her hand at her side.

Verniece was born November 16, 1921 in Grant Township, Michigan to Benjamin William Giroux and Gertrude Montreuil Giroux. She was one of ten children, and extremely proud of her French heritage. She spoke French at every possible occasion.

Verniece was a graduate of Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, with a major in psychology. She met her "handsome engineer" in 1943 on a blind date as he was completing his chemical engineering degree from Michigan State University. Though Bob showed up in uniform with army boots to take her to a dance, they fell in love and were married five months later, on May 1, 1943. She was always dearly referred to as his "Little French girl."

Verniece was expecting their first child when Bob left on the Queen Elizabeth ship, bound for England, to serve in Patton's Third Army, and Bob was in the Battle of the Bulge when their first child was born. Always ready to help her husband, Verniece took "family readiness" to a new level when she mailed through the postal service a .45 caliber sidearm so that her husband would be able to comply and have his hands free to do engineering tasks. The gun that Verniece mailed ultimately saved his life when he was ambushed by German soldiers, and allowed him to save another soldier's life, for which he received the Silver Star for gallantry.

Having been blessed with six children, Verniece stayed quite active raising her large family in Birmingham, Michigan, and being a gracious hostess for her husband's many social events as a chemical and metallurgical engineer for General Motors. As an adventurous couple, Verniece and Bob spent months backpacking Europe in their late seventies. Verniece was a devout Catholic, and a loving and devoted mother and wife. All six of her children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, were able to visit and be with her in the week preceding her death.

Verniece is survived by her husband, Robert A. Bailey, son Robert A. Bailey, Jr. (Sheri), daughter Lynn Renee Skelly, daughter Marilyn Bailey (Richard), son John G. Bailey (Jan), daughter Mary Jo Beck (Gill), and son Paul M. Bailey (Kim). She leaves behind 18 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery.