Obituaries for July 1, 2021

photo by Vickie Carpenter

Edwin Benkis

Edwin Benkis

Edwin Benkis, born Sept. 22, 1930, in Brooklyn, N.Y., was the son of Russian immigrants. His mother, Manya Benkis-Schmidt (Michael) was an accomplished concert pianist. Father, Arvid Benkis, was a former soldier, vocalist, and pressman. Grandfather, Jacob Bermant (Celia), was a Brooklyn family doctor. Aunt Sophie Bermant-Heynick (Dave). He is survived by twin cousins, Richard Heynick and Susan Heynick-Washinton (David).

He graduated from Peekskill High School, class of 1949. He received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from The State University of New York. In 1951, he obtained his Amateur Radio license, W2HTI, and was a charter member of NJDXA, established in 1957. He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean Cameron, Dec. 20, 1974, and their son Andrew, July 13, 2015.

He passed from this life on June 4, 2021. W2HTI was “The Last Man Standing,” the record for most countries worked. 

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Eileen Morris-Leadbeater-Benkis, who is also an accomplished licensed Ham, KO4DI. Together they owned and operated Uniform Plus, Inc. in Franklin, N.C., since 1988.

Also surviving are six children “one of each”, Donald Benkis (Elaine), Lynne Benkis and Jennifer Benkis (Robert Morrow); David Leadbeater (Gloria), Brian Leadbeater (Colleen), and Linda Leadbeater-Hoffart (Jerome); 11 grandchildren, Christopher Benkis, Michelle Benkis-Clark (Ian), Declan, Hunter, and Nathaniel Morrow, Stephanie and Michael Leadbeater, Becky and Andrew (Cassy) Leadbeater, Allison and Nicholas Hoffart; four great-grandchildren, Lily and James Clark, Colton and Chloe Leadbeater.

A memorial service will be held 10:00 am, Saturday, July 17, at 10 a.m., at All Saints Episcopal Church, St. Agnus Chapel, 66 Church Street, Franklin.

Moffitt Family Funeral Care is honored to serve the family.

Mary Susan Williams

Mary Susan Williams

Mary Susan Williams, 61, of Franklin, N.C., passed away Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

Born in Memphis, Tenn., to William Carl Malone and the late Mary Charlene Russell, she was a member of the Church of God and loved to crochet.  However, her dearest passion was spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren, who always put a smile on her face.  In addition to her mother, she was preceded in death a son, Daniel Long; a brother, Bill Malone; and a sister, Sandra Malone. 

She is survived by father and stepmother, Carl and Bonnie Malone of Wisconsin; daughters, Charlene Crawford of Murphy, N.C., and Charity Johnson of Oklahoma; her sisters, Rhonda Laufenberg, Roxie Malone, and Kim Davey, all of Wisconsin; sister-in-law, Melissa Malone; seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 17, at 2 p.m., at a place to be determined, with family members officiating the service. For questions regarding the memorial service, contact Charlene Crawford at (828)342-3099.

Macon Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

 William Brian ‘Bo’ Hedden

William Brian ‘Bo’ Hedden

William Brian “Bo” Hedden, 52, of Franklin, N.C., went home to be with Jesus on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

Born in Jackson County, he was the son of Aaron Bruce and Sandra Queen Hedden. He worked with his dad and brother as a pump installer for Hedden Brothers Well Drilling. He was a member of Louisa Chapel United Methodist Church and enjoyed golfing, fishing and hunting in his spare time.

He is survived by his parents, Bruce and Sandy Hedden; two brothers, Robin Hedden (Karen) of Loudon, Tenn., and Chris Hedden (Debra) of Franklin; niece, Michaella Hedden of Franklin; and nephew, Trevor Hedden (Katie) of Duncan, S.C.; numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins, along with a host of friends.

Funeral service was held Wednesday, June 30, in the Chapel of Macon Funeral Home.  Rev. David Crunkleton officiated.  Burial was in the Louisa Chapel United Methodist Church cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Louisa Chapel Methodist Cemetery Fund, c/o Donnie Wallace, 477 Louisa Chapel Rd, Franklin, NC 28734.

Online condolences can be left at

Macon Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Ronald William Bleier

Ronald William Bleier

Ronald William Bleier, 85, of Franklin, N.C., passed away on June 17, 2021.

He was born in Chicago, Ill., to the late William and Helen Bleier.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Rita Dolores Trein; daughter, Sandra Helen Prisco; and his siblings. 

He was the husband, dad, grandpa, and friend that you only see in movies or read about in books. He was a hard worker that always wanted to lend a hand or offer advice on how to do something better, even if you didn’t need it. His wife was his best friend whom he laughed with, cried with, lived life with, and loved whole heartedly for 65 years of his life. What arguably made him the happiest was being a father to his four children and a grandpa to all his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Even though there was so many of us at times, he always made sure no one felt left out and was always talking to everybody. I will never forget all the times he would tell us to “get your hand off the wall” or when he would sneak us candies or gum in church and grandma would give him the look and he would just laugh. Although we are all sad and hurt that he is no longer on this earth with us, we can all find comfort in knowing that he is at peace. He is no longer suffering or in pain but has reunited with his best friend and his daughter in God’s Kingdom. He would not want us to dwell on his passing but to celebrate the life he had, the memories we shared with him, and the love he gave to us.

He is survived by children, David (Percy) Bleier of Sunrise Fla.; Mark (Jeanne) Bleier of Franklin; and Kenneth Bleier of Plainfield, Ill.; a sister; eight grandchildren; 12 great grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service was held Saturday, June 26, at Resurrection Lutheran Church with Pastor Patrick O’Neill officiating. 

Online condolences at 

Macon Funeral Home will be handling the arrangements.

Susan Tippett Hunter

Susan Tippett Hunter

Susan Tippett Hunter, 59, of Franklin, N.C., went home to be with Jesus on Thursday, June 24, 2021.  

She was born in Robbinsville, N.C., to the late James Robert (Bob), and Helen Hoffmeyer Tippett of Franklin.  She was a member of Iotla Baptist Church. She was a 1979 graduate of Franklin High School, where she was very active in chorus and in band.  She worked as an office manager for HomeCare Partners where she worked with some of her favorite people. She loved music and having fun with friends, family, and never met a stranger. Those who knew her loved her, and her smile was contagious. She adored her family, and her beloved dog, Penny. She enjoyed traveling with her friend Renee, and loved relaxing on the beach, or eating some good seafood while listening to a rock and roll band.  She loved flowers, reading, and puzzles.  

She was an amazing mother and is survived by her two daughters, Amber Tippett Engert and Savannah Hunter and a son, Caleb Hunter, all of Franklin; brothers, Bill Tippett (Denise) and David Tippett (Carol) also of Franklin as well as her precious grandchildren, Destiny Sanders, Cayden Engert, Hudson Engert, Paisley Hunter, Jocelyn Sanders, Kaine Hunter, and her niece Tiffany Tippett and nephew Kevin Tippett, whom she loved as her own.  

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, July 10, at Iotla Baptist Church at 3 p.m., with Revs. Steve Reeves and Brandon Breedlove officiating.  Private interment will be at the Iotla Baptist Church Cemetery.  

The family will receive friends from 2 o 3 pm, one hour prior to the service at the Church.  

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Iotla Baptist Church cemetery fund or St. Jude’s Research Hospital for Children.  

Online condolences can be made at 

Macon Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Sally Marie Pruett

Sally Marie Pruett

Sally Marie Pruett, 75, of Franklin,  N.C., passed away on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. 

Born in Marion Indianapolis, Ind., she was the daughter of the late, Woodrow N. and Hilda Goldsmith McDonald. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by two brothers, Larry McDonald and a brother who died at an early age. 

She was a member of Liberty Baptist Church and the ladies auxiliary at Cowee Fire and Rescue. She loved crocheting, crafts, decorating, coloring, and swimming. She was the happiest being outdoors in the sunshine, tending to her flowering shrubs, trees and plants. She loved animals of all kinds and treated them as her children. She enjoyed putting out bird feeders, chimes, windsocks, and outdoor ornaments. With all her passions, the thing she loved most was her family and friends.

She is survived by her husband of 31 years, Wayne N. Pruett; daughter, Tana Casto (Robert) of Franklin; and a sister, Sue Snyder (Jerry) of Noblesville, Ind.; five grandchildren, Leland Jareth Brunson, David Quenton Brunson, Cierra Marie Brunson, Christopher Mark Casto, and Andrew Parker Casto; and two great grandchildren, Jackson Mark Atlas Casto and Louie Arthur Casto.

A memorial service was held at Macon Funeral Home on Friday, June 25, with Rev. Davis Hooper and Rev. Andy Cloer officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Hospice House Foundation of WNC, PO Box 815, Franklin, NC 28744.

Online condolences can be made at

Macon Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Henry Harrison Reese

Henry Harrison Reese, 74, of Clayton, Ga., passed away on June 17, 2021, in Seneca, SC surrounded by his family. His battle with serious medical issues throughout his life showed his courage in facing life challenges with a smile. Despite the pain, he came out a hero and stayed strong until the end.

He was a Vietnam veteran and very proud of his service to this country. He served in Vietnam in the United States Army as a Sergeant E-5, from May 12, 1967, to Dec. 23, 1967. He was permanently retired in 1970 by reason of physical disability after spending several years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC from injuries due to the war. He was awarded the Air Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device 1960, Combat Infantryman Badge, Sharpshooter Rifle M-14, Marksman Rifle M-16 and a Purple Heart.

He loved the outdoors and loved animals of all kinds. He was an avid hunter, beagle lover, and fisherman. He also loved auctions, flea markets and was an avid collector of everything. He enjoyed racing, he was a Jimmy Johnson fanatic, and he was a firm believer that there was two sides to every story “the truth and his side.” But by far, out of all of his hobbies, he loved his family with everything he was. Family meant the most to him his whole life. Family time included camping, boat rides on the pontoon, motorcycle rides, dirt track racing, horseback riding, tractor rides on his farm and the list could go on.

He was preceded in death by his father, William “Bob Hoss” Reese; his mother, Nona Poindexter Reese; two older brothers, Thomas “Greasy” Reese and George “Spud” Reese; his ex-wife and mother to his first two children, Louise Prince Cadanas; and a grandson, Samuel Cole Reese.

He is survived by the love of his life and mother to his third child, Sandy Craig of Walhalla, S.C.; three children, Selena M. Kempton of Mountain Rest, S.C., Aaron Reese and wife Justyne of Clayton, Matthew Reese of Walhalla; three step-children, Travis Watkins and wife Joanie of Walhalla, Shaun Watkins and wife Amanda of Walhalla, Ethan Watkins and wife Shelbi of Walhalla; five grandchildren, Jason McMahan of Franklin, N.C., Michael McMahan and significant other Julia Hixon of Franklin, Amber Reese of Wilmington, N.C., Trevor Reese of Clayton, Jayden Kempton of Franklin; eight step-grandchildren, Trey Gerrells of Clayton,  Thomas Watkins and significant other Aubrey Hawkins of Walhalla, Jacob Watkins and fiancé Deanna Shephard of Walhalla, Lilee Watkins of Walhalla, Austin Watkins of Walhalla, Isaac Watkins of Walhalla, Sawyer Watkins of Walhalla, nd Emmalynn Watkins of Walhalla; three great grandchildren, Bryce Kaiser of Michigan, Lily McMahan of Franklin, Owen McMahan of Franklin; and two step-great grandchildren, Madison Rogers of Franklin, and Thomas Jay Watkins of Walhalla; two brothers, William “Bill” Reese and wife Gail of Highlands, N.C., and Larry “Louch” Reese and significant other Karen Forrester of Virginia; and many nephews and nieces.

The family will hold a Celebration of Life on Aug. 6, at 11 a.m., at Maranatha Church, 240 Keowee School Road Seneca, S.C., with Pastor Shaun Watkins officiating. Following the service, the family wishes to extend an invitation to take Henry on his last ride up Hwy 28 from Seneca into Highlands to the Highlands Memorial Park where at 2:30 p.m. he will be given his final salute.

Lucille Brunner Roberge DeVane

Lucille Brunner Roberge DeVane, 94, passed away Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Highlands, N.C. She was born Jan. 8, 1927, in New York City to the late Charles Brunner and Regina Brunner. She was a real estate broker working in Miami Beach, Fla., for many years. She and her first husband, Paul Roberge, owned and operated the Skyline Lodge from 1971-1981. She was also a very devoted and faithful member of Our Lady of the Mountain Catholic Church in Highlands. She was a member of the Dames of Malta in the Catholic church.

Survivors include her husband, Charles W. “Bill” DeVane of Highlands.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her first husband, Paul Roberge.

Online condolences can be left at

Bryant-Grant Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the DeVane family.