Sept. 5 Obituaries of the Swannanoa Valley

Black Mountain News

Katherine Evelyn "Connie" Bates

Black Mountain

Katherine "Connie" Bates

Katherine Evelyn “Connie” Bates died August 12, 2019, just three weeks shy of her 102nd birthday, at Givens Highland Farms in Black Mountain where her loving family was able to comfort her in her last days. She was predeceased by the love of her life, her husband of over 71 years Reverend Dr. Leslie M. Bates and by her grandson William Board.

She is survived by her three children and their spouses: Daniel Bates and Ann Fratcher of Greer, S.C.;  Bette Bates and Robert Tynes of Black Mountain; and Ellen & Charles Board of Cary;  and by four grandchildren: Alison Tynes Adams and husband Drew Adams, Robin Tynes-Miller and husband Scott Tynes-MIller, Benjamin Board and Nicholas Board, and by her 3-month old great-grandson Cylis Adams. 

Connie was born Sept. 1, 1917 to Vernon Moses Stone and Edith Ann Vosburgh Stone in Newark, N.J. She attended the University of Buffalo and graduated cum laude with a degree in math and science from Greenville College in Illinois.  While there, in February 1938, she had her first date with Les and they were married in Buffalo on Dec. 31,1942.

She worked at the Merckens Chocolate Company lab in Buffalo prior to their marriage, and helped put Les through New York Theological Seminary in Manhattan in 1942-43 by working as a chemist at General Analine and Dye Company.

In 1943 the couple moved to McPherson, Kansas where their son Danny was born. From 1945-1951 they lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut where Connie worked at the Bridgeport Public Library to help put Les through graduate school at Yale.  Her job there was clipping newspapers and magazines – a skill she would continue to practice.

In 1951 Connie, Les and Danny moved to Columbia, Missouri where they would reside for the next 39 years and where Connie’s daughters, Bette and Ellen, were born. In 1965 Connie began teaching mathematics at Jefferson Junior High School where she remained (other than one year spent shepherding her family around the world and living in India) until retiring in 1984.

She was head of the math department during her final ten years there. After Les and Connie retired, they moved to Fukuoka, Japan for two years to teach conversational English.

In 1990 they moved to Black Mountain to be near their children and grandchildren. They became active members of the Black Mountain United Methodist Church and their love-filled home, with a beautiful mountain view, became the favorite place in the world for their family. 

Connie believed in always being active. She was a phenomenal cook and an enthusiastic gardener. She brought caring and artistic excellence to all that she did. Connie was an avid reader who delighted in learning new things, keeping up with the news of the world and clipping newspaper articles to share with her family.

One of Connie’s defining characteristics was the deep and unswerving love and devotion she showed to her husband, her children, their spouses and her grandchildren. Every day she spent with any of them made them feel special and loved. Even in her last couple of months, that delight and joy was still on her face when she held and cuddled her great-grandchild.

But the real story of her life is the love story that she and her husband Les crafted through every day of their more than seventy-one years of marriage. They drew enormous strength and support from each other. The unyielding devotion and love they had for each other enriched the lives of everyone around them. The story of Connie’s life in three simple words is “Connie and Les”.

The family would especially like to thank the wonderful staff of Givens Highland Farms for their kind and loving care of Connie over the past three years. She loved those who helped care for her, and their friendliness and generosity made them seem like extended family to all of us.

A memorial service and celebration of life was held Aug. 25 in the Givens Highland Farms Assembly Room. A private interment was held at Mountain View Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Black Mountain United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 517, Black Mountain, NC.

Condolences may be sent to

Pat McClurg


Patricia McClurg

Pat was a very down-to-earth Texas woman and she was, simultaneously, a trail-blazer.  She broke ground in the Presbyterian church and elsewhere, without ever drawing attention to the magnitude of what she, herself, was doing.  She lived her life exhibiting her amazing mind, her keen eyes and ears, her good sense of humor, significant humility, and her deeply felt faith, which drove her endlessly to seek fairness and justice for all. 

Pat was born in 1939 in Bay City, Texas to Herbert ('Mac') and Margaret McClurg.  Her sister, Susan, was born five years later.  During Pat’s early years, her family moved many times in East Texas and Louisiana - to wherever her father’s work in the oil fields took the family.  When she was in second grade, they settled in Orange, Texas, remaining there until Pat graduated from high school, after which oil work took Mac, Margaret, and Susan to Venezuela. 

In her Texas growing up years, Pat made a very deep, lasting friendship with Betty Em Wall - who was wheelchair-bound from polio.  Pat bonded with her and became a part of Betty Em’s family.  In later years, Pat wrote that Betty Em opened Pat’s eyes and ears to the diversity of humanity in ways that deeply impacted her own evolution as a person and her career.

Though church was not a part of Pat’s family’s life in her early years, through close friendships in her youth, Pat found a sense of belonging in the church.   In her teens, she became a leader among the youth at church and experienced what she wrote about as a “watershed moment” in her life in 1956 when her church - which was white at that time - shared worship with an African American church and a Native American church; this shared worship was controversial in the community and the Ku Klux Klan threw bricks through the window during the service to convey their extreme disapproval.  Pat wrote of experiencing a deep awakening at this moment and of wanting things to be different; from that day and throughout her adult life, Pat clearly put significant effort into striving to make things different.

Pat sought a good education and completed a Bachelor of Arts at Austin College, a Masters in Christian Education at Presbyterian School of Christian Education, and a Bachelor of Divinity at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  She pursued doctoral studies in ethics at SMU and received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Austin College.

Pat also significantly blazed trails as a female.  She was in the first class that accepted female students at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and was the first woman ordained and installed as a pastor in a Presbyterian Church of the United States (PCUS).  After serving two churches in Texas as a pastor, Pat served as a leader in a variety of jobs in the PCUS, including nine years at General Assembly Mission Board, ultimately its director.  During her term there, PCUS reunited with the United Presbyterian Church of USA, becoming the Presbyterian Church USA – healing the division in the Presbyterian Church that was borne at the outbreak of the Civil War.  In the 1970s, she was the one female on a committee of ten, that worked for seven years writing A Declaration of Faith, which continues to be a transforming document for worship and faith in the Presbyterian Church USA. 

Pat also served in the National Council of Churches, between 1982 and 1991, and was unanimously voted to serve as its President from 1988-1989 – the first clergywoman to ever serve in this capacity; she was noted for this in the New York Times.  She served on the World Council of Churches and also worked in leadership roles for Synod of Red River, Presbytery of Elizabeth, and New Castle Presbytery.

Pat fought against racial injustice throughout the world in so many ways.  Recognizing Pat’s endless commitment in this arena, Coretta Scott King had Pat serve on the Martin Luther King Federal Holiday Commission for more than six years, had her say a closing prayer at this Commission’s regular meetings, and had her serve as one of the emcees at the 25th anniversary of the March on Washington in D.C. In the latter event, Pat spoke and also shared the stage with many notables including Jesse Jackson.  She wrote that her most significant contributions to this event were drawing Jesse’s attention to a young lad who was shouting “Jesse!  Jesse!” which resulted in his responding 1:1 to the boy and her sharing her much-needed candy bars at the end of a full, rich, hot, and exhausting event with Whoopi Goldberg.

Pat led the Presbyterian church and the National Council of Churches for many years in fighting against apartheid.  In these efforts, Pat was arrested for protesting against apartheid outside the South African embassy in Washington D.C., spoke on the steps of Congress at a press conference with Ted Kennedy, and travelled repeatedly to Africa in an unending effort to seek change.  Ultimately when Nelson Mandela was released from prison and came to the US for his first visit, he included her in a small gathering of folks to whom he wanted to extend personal gratitude for their efforts to make things better for blacks in Africa.

While applying her mind and effort at righting wrongs throughout her life, Pat also very much enjoyed doing hands-on work around her home, tending to her beloved kitties, and taking long walks on the beaches in North Carolina.  She also maintained a very playful side - giving toys as Christmas gifts to the young and to the old - and wearing a Mickey Mouse watch to her high-level professional jobs.  

Pat became a central member in the families of Margie and Walter Johnson and Arline and Randy Taylor – living out both the ordinary and extraordinary times with multiple generations in these families.  She will be enormously missed by the Johnson and Taylor families. 

She is preceded in death by her parents Margaret and Herbert (Mac), and is survived and will be missed also by her sister Susan, brother-in-law Bruce, her nephew Alex, and her niece Christine.  

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, in the Upper Anderson Auditorium at Montreat Presbyterian Church.

Memorial donations are welcomed to Montreat Presbyterian Church, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, The Humane Society or any nonprofits whose mission is in line with Pat’s endless endeavors for justice and fairness.

Arrangements are in the care of Harwood Home for Funerals (

Delphia "Tootsie" Taylor

Knoxville, Tennessee

Delphia "Tootsie" Taylor

Delphia “Tootsie” Cable Taylor, 91, of Knoxville, Tennessee, died Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 of complications of dementia. 

Mrs. Taylor is the widow of Gene Dawes Taylor. Mrs. Taylor was lovingly known as “Tootsie” by some and as "Dee” by more. She is formerly of Black Mountain, Union Mills, and Proctor (before Fontana Dam was built). 

She is the daughter of William and Minnie Cable of Marion and Proctor. She is survived by her daughters Judy, Kay and Abbie; her grandchildren John and his wife Katie, Julie and her husband Dan, William, and Charlotte. She is also survived by 4 minor age great-grandchildren. Mrs. Taylor is well known for her kindness to others, her loving nature and her strong faith. She is greatly loved by her family and those who knew her.

A graveside service was held at Montford Cove Missionary Baptist Church on Aug. 28 and Tootsie was laid to rest beside her husband “DT."

Mrs. Taylor loved flowers and family will gratefully receive them on her behalf.

Kirksey Funeral Home of Marion is honored to be serving the family. 

Thomas Owen

Old Fort

Thomas Owen

Thomas Hilliard Owen, 70, of Old Fort passed away Saturday, August 24, 2019.

Mr. Owen was born January 1, 1949 in Buncombe County. He retired from the US Navy with 20 years of service and the state of NC as a CNA with ADACT.  Tom was a member of First Baptist Church, Black Mountain where he was a former Deacon. He loved serving at the Veterans Headquarters in Oteen.

He is preceded in death by his father, Burnice Stines; sister, Lorraine Brewer and brother, Larry Owen.

Tom is survived by his wife, Sandra Owen; daughter, Kelly Owen; son, Rev. Stephen Owen and wife, Emily; mother, Hazel Stines; sisters, Gail Rayburn and Beth Conner  (Junior); brother, Robert Rice (Karen) and grandchildren, Jaxson, Alexis, Roxanne, and Maxton Owen and Kinley and Alayna Sisk.

A Celebration of Life service was held Aug. 29, at First Baptist Church, Black Mountain where his son, Rev. Stephen Owen officiated. Burial followed, in the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery.

For those choosing to make a memorial contribution, please consider Baptist Children’s Homes of N.C., 201-E Idol St., Thomasville, NC  27360.

Arrangements by Harwood Home for Funerals (