Sept. 26 Obituaries of the Swannanoa Valley

Black Mountain News

Shirley Bartlett

Black Mountain

Shirley Bartlett

Shirley C. Bartlett of Black Mountain,passed away quietly on Sept. 16, 2019 from complications of dementia.

Ms. Bartlett was born in Wilmington, on July 5, 1932, to William C. and Nettie B. Cochran. She graduated from New Hanover High School in 1951 and moved to Asheville to join her sister Jeanette. She attended the Mission Hospital School of nursing, completing the course in 1954. In her 50-year nursing career, she performed a variety of duties including floor nursing and operating room. Upon moving to Black Mountain in 1966, she worked as an occupational health nurse at Northrop Carolina (now Chemtronics) and Beacon Manufacturing. She retired from ADAC.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her 5 siblings, her first husband, Raymond G. Maleski of Edwardsville, Pennsylvania and her second husband, James T. “Tommy” Bartlett of Black Mountain, and two nephews.

She is survived by her daughter, Susan Maleski of Atlanta, Georgia, a niece and a nephew and a number of great and great great grandnieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday Sept. 28, in the Assembly Room at Givens Highland Farms, 200 Tabernacle Road. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to Bounty & Soul, an organization that provides fresh fruits and vegetables along with nutrition counseling.    

Harwood Home for Funerals ( is assisting the family. 

Staci Neal

Johnson City, Tennessee 

Staci Neal

Staci Vaughn Jackson Neal, age 44, of Johnson City, Tennessee, passed away on Sunday, September 15, 2019. She was born on Sept. 26, 1974 in Buncombe County, to the late Thomas Earl Jackson Jr. and Martha Carol Kuykendall. Staci attended East Rutherford High School where she was a star softball player, as well as in Forest City. She worked as a receptionist for Patterson Oil Company and was a member of Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Swannanoa.

Staci is survived by her son, Charles "Thomas" Neal of Swannanoa; and her sister, Tammy Jackson Rabb (Timothy), also of Swannanoa.

A graveside service will be held at a later date at Bethel United Methodist Church in Asheville. The Rev. Jason Bartlett will be officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Brother Wolf Animal Rescue at 31 Glendale Avenue, Asheville, NC, 28803.

Penland Family Funeral Home ( is honored to be caring for the Jackson-Neal Family. 

Mary Sue Thomas


Mary Sue Thomas

Mary Sue Thomas, 90, of Asheville passed away Tuesday, September 17, 2019.

Mrs. Thomas was born June 26, 1929 in Trion, GA to the late Andrew and Ruby Tutton Williams.   

Sue was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother who loved spending time with her family.  She taught in public schools and was a member of First Baptist Church, Swannanoa.

In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her son, James Henry “Jamey” Thomas, Jr. and brothers, Andrew M. Williams, Jr. and Jimmie Williams. 

Sue is survived by her husband, Jim Thomas; daughter, Michelle Davis (Douglas) of Fletcher; sons, Samuel Thomas (Susanna) of El Paso, TX and Matthew Thomas (Darla) of Sanford, NC; grandchildren, Nathan Davis (Leslie), Jessica Davis (Jeanne), Josiah Thomas, Jared Thomas (Jenny), Carissa Lucas (Tony), and Joshua Thomas; great grandchildren, Laurel, Leah, Aaron and Isaac Davis, Samuel Thomas, Lana Lucas and one on the way.

A Celebration of Life Service was held at First Baptist Church of Swannanoa on Sept. 20. 

Flowers are accepted and appreciated. Those desiring to make a memorial contribution are encouraged to consider Four Seasons Hospice, 571 S. Allen Rd., Flat Rock, NC 28731.

Arrangements by Harwood Home for Funerals (

Mary Stockton Hay

Black Mountain

Mary Stockton Hay

Mary Thomas Stockton Hay – known to most as Tommy – lived a full and generous life and died peacefully in her Given’s Estate apartment on Sept.18, 2019, of congestive heart failure.  She was 98 years old.

She was born April 9, 1921 in Richmond, Kentucky, the only child of Edward and Mary Stockton and grew up surrounded by generations of family and friends.  She graduated from Randolph Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, and during World War II worked at the Blue Grass Ordinance Depot outside Richmond.

After the War, while attending a week-long Presbyterian Youth Conference as a sponsor, she met seminary student Edward Craig Hay of Hickory. Before the conference had concluded they were engaged and within the year married. What began in that whirlwind endured as a strong and loving bond until his death in 1998.

Together they had four children:  Edward Craig Hay, Jr. (Asheville); The Rev. Robert Stockton Hay (Peachtree City, GA); The Rev. Thomas Douglass Hay (Louisville); and Mary Hay Gwynn (Black Mountain), now deceased. They were partners through the four decades of his ministry to churches in Nicholasville, Kentucky; Franklin, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Florida; Birmingham, Alabama and Wilmington. She did whatever needed to be done, teaching all ages of classes, serving meals and leading hundreds of church gatherings. In 1985 he retired from ministry and a few years later they moved to Black Mountain.

Recently she said that the thing of which she is most proud is being ordained as a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church in Wilmington.  It was an endorsement of her gifts and allowed her to serve the church she loved even to the national level.

Throughout her life she showed a steadfast commitment to justice and for overturning the structures that sustain oppression.  She found ways to fight racism in Birmingham and support the rights of powerful women through turbulent decades. With a quiet steel she spoke truth with grace and lived the meaning of God’s inclusive, empowering love.  After Mary died, she reordered her life to help raise two granddaughters.

As she aged, she never stopped growing.  She taught children at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, delivered Meals on Wheels into her 70s and was active on community housing committees. She wore her support for the Democratic Party proudly and kept an active engagement with politics right to her last days.

As her family continued to grow, so did her joy. Twelve grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren called her Nana and gathered faithfully every Christmas to be nurtured by the family she held close. In recent years local grandchildren came to her apartment once a month with their babies to laugh and tell stories and have their spirits lifted by her generous heart. A great-grandchild was born just 4 days before her death and she was able to see pictures and talk to the parents.

Besides her children, she is survived by daughters-in-law Diana Soileau, Janice Hay and Dawn Biggs and son-in-law Andrew Gwynn; grandchildren Robert Hay, Jr. (Morgan), Sarah Hay (Albie), Kevin Hay (Julie), Mary Hay (Jim), Craig Hay (Linda), Rebekah Hay Groover (Jim), Douglass Hay (Katie), Lisle Gwynn Garrity (Paul), Laura Culp (Benji), Emelyn Gwynn Light (Breck), Nathan Biggs-Penton and Jessalyn Biggs, eleven great-grandchildren, many cousins, nieces and nephews particularly Marianne Gannon and Martha Campbell.  She loved them all.

A public memorial service was held at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church on Sept. 24.

Memorial gifts can be sent to Black Mountain Presbyterian Church or The Mary Hay Gwynn Endowment Scholarship Fund at A-B Tech Community College or to the Given’s Estate Resident Assistance Ministry at 2360 Sweeten Creek Rd, Asheville, N.C. 28803 (online

Arrangements by Harwood Home for Funerals (

Merita Smith

Black Mountain

Merita Smith, 77, of Black Mountain passed away Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.

Mrs. Smith was born Nov. 2, 1941 in Virginia to the late Glenn and Wilma Suitt Bennett.

In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her husband, Donald Smith, brother, Glenn Bennett, Jr., and sister, Wilma Buckner.

Merita is survived by her daughter, Shannon Goodwin and family; sons, Mark Taylor and family and Allen Taylor and family and sister, Virginia Owens of Florida.

A service will be held at a later date. 

Arrangements by Harwood Home for Funerals (