Nov. 22 Obituaries of the Swannanoa Valley

Black Mountain News

Ellen Nielsen 


Ellen Nielsen

Ellen Correne Nielsen went to be with her Lord and her family on Nov. 9, 2018 after years of declining health.

Ellen was born March 19, 1951 in Westhope, ND to Albert and Margaret Nielsen and sister, Julie. She treasured her early years growing up in a small town on the Dakota Prairie just below the Canadian border.

When she was 16 her father passed away unexpectedly. After high school she attended Minot State College for three years and then worked a year. In 1973, she and her mother moved to her mother’s home state of NC. Ellen was employed in the clerical field with the state at Western NC Tuberculosis Sanitorium later known as Black Mountain Center. She retired in 2004 with 30 years of service.

On Oct. 3, 1976, Ellen accepted Christ as her personal Lord and Savior. The decision guided her the rest of her life. She was an active member of Meadowbrook Free Will Baptist Church from 1976 to 1988. While there, she taught the primary Sunday School class and later the Junior Girls class. She was Craft Director for Vacation Bible School, sang in the choir, and sewed costumes for dramas. In 1978, she took the trip of a lifetime to the Holy Land.

In 1988, she moved her church membership to Trinity Baptist Church in Asheville. She assisted in the primary class for several years, sang in the choir, sewed costumes for dramas and dresses for girls in foreign countries.

In 2000, she underwent cancer treatment. Shortly after, she became one of the first volunteers at Hope – A Women’s Cancer Center which she loved doing for 9 years.

Ellen was the primary caregiver for her mother for many years. She liked traveling, animals, nature, scrapbooking, sewing, counted cross stitch, baking, reading, and jigsaw puzzles. She and her beloved sister, Julie, had a rare and special bond.

Ellen will be remembered for her sense of humor, quick wit, ever present smile, generous spirit and off-the-wall personality.

Preceding her in death were her father, mother, brother-in-law, Curtis Smith, and sister, Julie.

She is survived by her beloved Poodle Chewy, two aunts, and several cousins across the country. Cousins, Ed and Jane Lawing and family of Morganton, NC, and Lavonne and Bill Masek of Crestview, FL were a special part of her life.

Ellen requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Trinity Baptist Church or agencies that help people or animals.

Services were held on Nov. 13 at Trinity Baptist Church in Asheville. Visitation followed the service. Interment was at Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery in Marion. 

Harwood Home for Funerals ( is assisting the family.

Gary Banks


Gary Banks

Gary Lee Banks, age 60, of Swannanoa, NC, passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. He was born on Oct. 25, 1958 in Buncombe County to the late Ralph Banks and Aris Bass Banks. Gary worked was self-employed as a farmer and a member of Faith Independent Free Will Baptist Church in Weaverville.

He was married to Linda Banks who passed away in 1999. Gary was predeceased by his sisters, Brenda Lusk and Barbara Smith. He is survived by his sisters, Deborah McMahan of Swannanoa, Doris Dodd of Woodfin, Donna Banks of Deland, FL, and Kathy Bennett of Swannanoa; his half sister, Tina Young of Marion; and his half brother, Tony Banks of Winston-Salem.

There will be no service per Gary's request. Penland Family Funeral Home is honored to be caring for the Banks Family.