Obituaries for October 17, 2019

photo by Vickie Carpenter

David Collier

David Collier

David Collier, 62, passed away Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Born in Marietta, Ga., he was raised in Franklin by the late Roy and Mary Greenwood Collier. He served in the U.S. Navy. He was an avid Clemson fan and golfer. He was also the “best Poppy in the world.”

Surviving are his wife, Tracy Fitzgerald Collier; children, Chris Collier (Melissa), Zack Caulder (Heather), Austin Caulder; grandson, Brayden; siblings, Marilyn Roper (CB), Linda Campbell (Fred), Mildred Broad, Doug Welch (Irene), Roy Duane Collier (Carolyn), Phoebe Hastings (Mark); furbabies, Dixie Rose and Jayce; granddogs, Arya, Oaklynn, Cowboy; and several nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life service was held Tuesday, Oct. 8,  at Lakeview Baptist. 

A memorial service will be held at a later date in Franklin, N.C. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Carolina Boxer Rescue, P.O. Box 87, Hampstead, N.C. 28443.

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Ernest Holt

Ernest Holt

Ernest Holt, 92, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.

He was born in Attleboro, Mass., and later moved to Florida in the early 1950s.

He proudly served in the Navy during WWII, enlisting at the age of 17. He retired as a lieutenant from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office in 1976 after 20 years of service. An avid lifelong learner, his “retirement” included work as a realtor; establishing a handyman business; earning a pilot’s license; growing a fabulous backyard vegetable garden; and learning to sew.  He was gifted with a sense of humor and the ability to fix or build just about anything.

During his life, he volunteered his time and talent for numerous organizations and causes including The Boy Scouts of America, Foxfire Museum in North Georgia; Meals on Wheels; hospital volunteer; and Macon County Senior Citizen Center in Franklin, N.C.

Other proud accomplishments and ventures include physically building his beach house at Vilano Beach, Fla., many years ago; piloting a small plane for a trip to California; walking 30 miles along the shoreline from Jacksonville Beach to St. Augustine in a single day; traveling the country in his motor home; and in his 80s, completing the rigorous study for initiation into Freemasonry.

He is survived by his three daughters, Gaylynn, Deborah, and Mary; and his two sons, Gary and Peter; 13 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.

He will be missed by many family members and by many dear and close friends from his time living in Franklin, for 15 years until 2017.

At his request, there is no formal memorial service. Hold close the good memories of his life.

“Those we love remain with us for love itself lives on, and cherished memories never fade because a loved one’s gone”

If considering a memorial in Ernie’s name, please consider Haven Hospice of Gainesville, Fla.

Lee Walter Whittaker

Lee Whittaker

Lee Walter Whittaker, 73, of Franklin, N.C., passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.

Born in Worcester, Mass., he was the son of the late Lee and Emma Jane Whittaker. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sisters, Elizabeth McGovern, Barbara Chase and Judith Clay. 

He attended South High Community School, Holy Cross College, Resurrection College in Kitchener, Ontario, Gloucester Monastery, and Atlantic University in Florida. He was a Corporal with the U.S. Marine Corps and Purple Heart recipient during Vietnam. He was the first K-9 Unit Police Officer with the City of Oakland Park, Fla. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge, Shriners, York Rite, Scottish Rite, Knight Mason, charter member of Veritas Lodge #769, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #81, Knights of Columbus 3rd and 4th degree, Marine Corps League, NRA member, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Affairs, and the American Legion. He served as a past president of the Booster Club of Franklin High School, Chaplain of Junaluskee Lodge #145, Past President of Smoky Mountain Shrine Club, Past Venerable Master of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Past High Priest of York Right Mason #95, Chaplain of Glenville Lodge #551, Chaplain of Blue Ridge Lodge #435.

He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Natalie Whittaker of Franklin; three children, Natalie Whittaker of Franklin, Lee W. Whittaker (Courtney) of Newton, N.C., and Paul R. Whittaker (Dana) of Mills River, N.C.; two sisters, Beverly Griffin of Lester, Mass., and Susan Gilchrist of Whitinsville, Mass.; two grandchildren; and 14 nieces and nephews.

Funeral services was held Sunday, Oct. 13, in the Chapel of Macon Funeral Home. Burial was on Monday, Oct. 14, in the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain.

Macon Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Condolences can be made to the family at

The family respectfully requests no flowers and would prefer donations to be made to either Smoky Mountain Shrine Club, c/o Andrew Norton, 274 Crestview Heights, Franklin, NC 28734 (828) 460-0396; or VVA Chapter #994, 249 Sloan Road, Franklin, NC 28734; (828)369-7890.

Pamela Joi ‘PJ’ Mason Carpenter

Pamela Joi “PJ” Mason Carpenter, 54, of Mountain City, Ga., passed away at home, early Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, following a diagnosis of cancer two months earlier. Born in the U.S. Naval Hospital in Charleston, S.C., on June 16, 1965, she was the daughter of Leroy Mason (Mary) and Paralee Willis Brooks.  

In addition to her parents, she is survived by three brothers: Lance Mason, Michael Mason, and John Allen; several aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. 

A memorial service will be held Sunday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m.,  at the Scaly Mountain Church of God.  Pastor Donald Bates will officiate.  A reception will follow immediately after the service in the fellowship hall.  A private burial will be at a later date in the Scaly Mountain Church of God Cemetery on Hale Ridge Road, Scaly Mountain.  

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Scaly Mountain Church of God Cemetery Fund, 278 Buck Knob Rd, Scaly Mountain, NC   28775, or to Regency Hospice, 350 S. Main St., Hiawassee, GA   30546.

Melba Opaline Keener Egan

Melba Opaline Keener Egan

Melba Opaline Keener Egan, 93, of Wilmington, Del., and Highlands, N.C., passed away Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. She was born July 2, 1926, to the late Henry Brownlow Keener and Irene Peek. She retired from Environmental Services after many years of service. She loved the mountains, gardening, crocheting, puzzles, cooking and baking. She was also a member of Goldmine Baptist Church and was of the Baptist faith.  

She is survived by her three daughters, Rhonda Gardner (Jerry) of Winston Salem, N.C., Patricia Egan of Wilmington, Del., and Kathy Reid of Wilmington, Del.; six grandchildren, Jerry Gardner Jr., Tommy Gardner, Lisa Cave, Laura Leech, Jeffrey Reid, Lesley Salvatore; 12 great grandchildren, Jake Salvatore, Julia Salvatore, Luke Salvatore, Mason Cave, Logan Cave, Tyler Cave, Cameron Reid, Carson Reid, Connor Reid, Keely Leach, Tommy Gardner Jr. and Dalton Gardner; a sister, Olive Keener Todd of High Point, N.C.;  Stepmom, Virgie Keener; two half-sisters, Mary Lee Simmons (Randall) and Caroline Winn (Terry); and half-brother, Grady Keener (Bev).  In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her half-brother, Stacey Keener. 

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Oct.19, at 2 p.m., at Shortoff Baptist Church in Highlands with Rev. Andy Cloer officiating. Burial will follow at Miller Cemetery.  The family will receive friends from 12:30-2 p.m. prior to the service at the church. 

Online condolences can be made online at Bryant-Grant Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Egan family.

Wendell Ray Burston

Melba Opaline Keener Egan

Wendell Ray Burston, 69, of Franklin, N.C., passed away, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, at Mission Hospital surrounded by his close family. He was born Oct. 11, 1950, to Jeff and Rose Dell Burston in Franklin.

He was an avid sports fan and spent his free time watching various sports including basketball, football, baseball and NASCAR racing. The Carolina Tarheels was his favorite team. He was an amazing basketball player in high school and played football as well. In his free time, he enjoyed playing golf, bowling and taking trips to Pigeon Forge and the Blue Ridge Mountains. He retired from Duke Energy after 42 years of service as a Distribution Underground Specialist.

He is survived by his wife Carrie and daughter Adrienne of Atlanta, Ga.; twin sister, Wanda Gentry of Franklin; brother, Charles (Barbara) Stewart of Miami, Fla.; and many loving nieces, nephews and extended family. He was a loving father, husband, and friend to everyone. He is preceded in death by his parents, Rosadell and Jeff Burston, and his son, Joshua Scarver.

Service was held on Wednesday, Oct. 16,  at Macon Funeral Home with Roy Lowe officiating. He was laid to rest at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church Cemetery in Franklin. Pallbearers were John Bryson, Gerald Parks, Joe Chavis, Jonathan Simmons, Mack Powell and Willis Chavis. Roy Lowe will officiate.

Macon Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Condolences can be made to the family at

Linda Sue Cochran

Linda Sue Cochran

Linda Sue Cochran, 78, went home to be with the Lord Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. She was born Jan. 15, 1941, in Macon County to the late Artie Mae Woodall Meshell. She was married to the late Harold Clifton Cochran who preceded her in 2006.  She was a member of the Mt. Sinai Assembly of God Church; she was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and homemaker. 

Survivors include her daughter, Dawn Ellis of Franklin; four sons, Tony Cochran and his wife Patricia, Bryan Cochran, Darhl Cochran, and Marty Cochran all of Franklin; a sister, Carolyn Sosa of Franklin; 12 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by a grandson, Gage Ensley.

A funeral service was held Tuesday, Oct. 15, in the Chapel of Bryant-Grant Funeral Home with the Rev. John Raby and Rev. Darian Cochran officiating. Burial followed in the Roper Cemetery.  Grandsons served as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers were Chris Ford, Trent Cochran, and Mike Ford.

In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to the Hospice House Foundation of Western North Carolina, P.O. Box 815 Franklin, NC 28744.

Online condolences can be left at

Bryant-Grant Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Cochran family. 

Elizabeth “Beth” Thorndike

Elizabeth “Beth” Thorndike

Elizabeth “Beth” Thorndike, 47, of Franklin, N.C., passed away on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019.

Born in Morristown, Tenn., she was the daughter of the late William Tucker Williams and Carolyn Sue McDaniel Williams. She was a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts and loved researching and coloring. She was also an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

She is survived by her wife, Becky Thorndike of Franklin; daughter, Kelley Armstead of Berkley, Calif.; brother, Knox Williams (Tammy) of Knoxville, Tenn.; and nieces and nephew, Amanda Neel (Willie), who was considered a daughter, Liz Peterson and Rob Williams all of Knoxville; and two great nieces, Lillie and Kaylee Neel.

A Celebration of life will be held Sunday, Oct. 20, at 11 a.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 85 Sierra Lane, Franklin, NC 28734.

Macon Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Condolences can be made to the family at