Sept. 19 Obituaries of the Swannanoa Valley

Black Mountain News

Blanche Torrey Wiggs Carper

Black Mountain

Blanche Torrey Wiggs Carper

Blanche Torrey Wiggs Carper was surrounded by family when she died peacefully in her youngest daughter’s home in Black Mountain, on Aug. 26, 2019. Blanche’s strong faith, love for the Lord, prayer life, and sweet loving spirit were an inspiration to those who knew her. Her good sense of humor frequently brought smiles and laughter to her family and friends.

Blanche was born on Sept. 4, 1921, in Elberton, Georgia. She graduated from Wheaton College Academy in Illinois and Columbia Bible College in Columbia, S.C.  She taught Bible in the public schools of Bluefield, West Virginia, spent three years in nurses’ training in Chicago, and 14 months in Belgium at the Institute of Tropical Medicine.  Blanche was commissioned by the PCUS and served as a long-term medical missionary in Congo, Africa.  Her best friend, and husband, was Rev. Day Carper, also a missionary.

Blanche worked as a nurse in hospitals, rural dispensaries, and villages, where she provided health care for babies and adults, and taught parents about good nutrition.  After returning from Congo, Blanche was employed as an RN in Hickory, NC. She was active in First Presbyterian Church, where she was honored with a lifetime membership in the Presbyterian Women’s Organization.

During retirement, Blanche and Day served two terms as Volunteers in Mission at the Presbyterian/Episcopal Sainte Croix Hospital in Léogane, Haiti.  Additional volunteer work for Blanche included service at the Manna Food Bank, the gift shop at Givens Estates, making blankets for “Project Linus” and preemie gowns and caps for “Dress a Blessing.” Blanche was ordained an Elder while a member of Westminster Presbyterian in Asheville.  

Following Day’s death, Blanche lived with her youngest daughter in Athens, GA, and then moved with her to Black Mountain.  Her days were filled with prayer, reading the Bible, watching birds, and admiring God’s creation.  An added joy was spending time almost weekly with great-grandchildren, Abigail and Micah Covert, and frequent visits from other family members.

Blanche is survived by her 5 children:  Frances Lovell (Eugene) of Maryville, Tennessee; Stephen Carper (Maydell), of Marion; Janet Jones (Robert) of Matthews; Elizabeth Iverson (William) of Blue Ridge, Georgia; and Edith Covert (Joe) of Black Mountain; plus 9 grandchildren and spouses, and 14 great-grandchildren.

A celebration of Blanche’s life was held at the Black Mountain Presbyterian Church on Sept. 1. For memorial gifts, visit

Mozelle Smith

Black Mountain

Mozelle Smith, age 98, went to be with the Lord on Sept. 8, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ted Smith; son, Kevin Smith; parents, Aden Wiseman and Eva Johnson Wiseman; and siblings, Essie Lonan, Mamie Brown, Earl Wiseman, Verna Tucker, Dovie Wiseman, Alma Hefner, Lila Puckett, A.A. Wiseman, Hazel Clark, Genia Good, and Omar Wiseman.

She is survived by several nephews and nieces.

Mozelle resided at Flesher’s Nursing Home for two-and-a-half years before her death. She was a long-time resident of Swannanoa. Mozelle and her husband moved to Grovemont in 1949. She worked at Beacon Manufacturing for 35 years. Mozelle was a member of Swannanoa United Methodist Church and later a member of Black Mountain United Methodist Church.

A celebration of life service was held at Harwood Home for Funerals on Sept. 11. Burial followed in Piney Grove Cemetery.

Harwood Home for Funerals ( is assisting the family. 

Helen Graves

Black Mountain

Helen Graves

Helen Elizabeth Cannan Graves passed away at the Hospice Solace Center in Asheville on Sept. 6, 2019 a few months after celebrating her 105th birthday with her extended family and friends.

Helen was born May 21, 1914 in Eldorado, Illinois, the daughter of Bess and Tom Cannan. She attended Southern Illinois University and graduated from the WMU Training School. She married Allen W. Graves in 1937. They were married for fifty-four years before his death in 1991. Helen wrote "Growing in Bible Knowledge" in 1944, a book that was translated into several languages.

Helen focused her life around her church, her family, and her travels around the world with her husband and family. She was active in the civil rights movement and in anti-war demonstrations. After Allen retired from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he and Helen served as missionaries in Ogbomosho, Nigeria. She was a life-long Democrat and hoped to help elect a woman as our President. She was heart-broken by the separation of children from their parents along our southern border where she lived briefly as a child.

In 1985 Helen was given the Clarence Jordan Award by the Long Run Baptist Association. She was active for many years at Crescent Hill Baptist Church and later East Baptist Church where she was ordained as a deacon. In recent years she belonged to Broadway Baptist Church.

Helen was pre-deceased by her son John, and grandsons Jason Graves, Eddie Olney, and Steven Olney. She is survived by her other children and their families: Joyce Olney of Rock Hill, S.C., Dorothy Cannan Hyde (James) of Black Mountain, David (Margaret) of Louisville, Kentucky; Jenny Weisz (John) of Boston, Massachusetts and Tom (Wendy) of Richmond, Virginia. She is also survived by her daughter-in-law Koene Graves and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, at Highland Farms, 200 Tabernacle Road, Black Mountain. Expressions of sympathy may go to Swannanoa Christian Ministries and Resident Assistance Fund at Highland Farms.

Harwood Home for Funerals ( is assisting the family locally. 

Allan Laukka


Allan Laukka

Allan Johannes Laukka, age 87, of Swannanoa, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019 in Portland, Maine. He was born on April 24, 1932 in  New York City, to the late Arne John Laukka and Aino Amanda Serafina Gronroos. Allan was a United States Air Force and Korean War Veteran. He also worked for customer relations as a claim clerk for the U.S. Post Office and was a member of Swannanoa First Baptist Church.

Along with his parents, Allan was also predeceased by his first wife and mother of his children and his brother Henry Laukka, who was killed in a plane crash. He is survived by his wife, Sisko Sylvia Helena Tervo Laukka "Helena"; his sons, Terry Laukka of Warren, Maine and Kevin Laukka of Waldoboro, Maine; his daughters, Sherri Lynn Donaldson of Lake Worth, Florida and Tracy Wyllie of Union, Maine; his brother, Leo Laukka of Union; his three grandchildren; his five great grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews in Finland.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 11, in the chapel of the West Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain.

The VA Hospice Chaplin Jeremiah Richards, Rev. Dan Snyder and Rev. Dr. Jeff Dowdy will be officiating. Penland Family Funeral Home ( is honored to be caring for the Laukka Family.