Obituaries for July 6, 2017


Betty Sanders Owens

Betty Sanders Owens

Betty Sanders Owens, 85, of Matthews, N.C., left this earth for her heavenly home Sunday June 18, 2017.

She is survived by her son wife Pam of Matthews; aunt, Mildred Swafford of Franklin, N.C.; brother, John Quince Sanders (Jay) of Franklin; and sister, Olivia Sanders Reece (Tootsie) of Anderson, S.C., and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews. She is preceded in death by husband Donald Owens Sr., and siblings, Willa Sanders Stiles, Harris Lafayette Sanders, Elura Belle Sanders Walters, Edith Sanders Conley, Margaret Hadassah Sanders Harrison, Jesse Lafayette Sanders Jr. (Sonny), Charles Everett Sanders, and Jimmie Haynes Sanders.

Her loss is mourned by a host of friends as she has mourned the loss of many family members, friends and work colleagues.

She was born on Aug. 30, 1931, in Franklin, to J.L Sanders Sr. and Ida Florence Shope Sanders. She graduated from Franklin High School in 1948. That summer she joined her father and two brothers who were involved in the construction of the Sears building on North Tryon Street. While there, she got a job as an operator at Southern Bell with the intention of returning to Western North Carolina in the fall and attending Mars Hill College. Charlotte and employment suited her well and so when it was time for her family to return to Franklin, Betty stayed behind. She married Donald Owens in 1953 and son Chip followed in 1954. She was a faithful member of Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church. After retiring from Southern Bell in October 1982, she was active in the Southern Bell Pioneers and volunteer activities with Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church and then Providence Baptist Church. She often hosted her Sunday school class, church friends, and her birthday group at home. She loved to travel with friends and family throughout the United States as well as Scandinavia, the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, China, Russia, Australia and much of Europe.

Funeral services were held Thursday, June 22, at Heritage Funeral Home-Weddington Chapel. David Jordan from Providence Baptist officiated.

In lieu of flowers, donations my be sent to a breast cancer organization or hospice. Online guestbook available at A special thank you to Dr. Lassiter, Dr. Powderly and Novant Health Hospice for their loving care.

Elbert ‘Ray’ Vernon

Elbert ‘Ray’ Vernon

Elbert “Ray” Vernon, 68, of Franklin, N.C., passed away Saturday, July 1, 2017.

Born in Brunswick County, N.C., he was the son of the late Elbert Ray Vernon Sr. and Marie Hill Vernon. He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from N.C. State and a master’s degree in nursing.  He was a master jeweler and a certified gemologist. He enjoyed carpentry, gardening and spending time with his family.  He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, son-in-law and friend.

He is survived by his wife, Deborah Williams Vernon; two children, Bridgett Ezzell (Darren) of Elizabethtown, N.C., and Steve Vernon (Missy) of Faison, N.C.; step daughter, M. Danielle Thompson of Franklin; three grandchildren, Leyton Ezzell, Caroline Sanders and Rebecca Vernon; mother-in-law, Doris L. Williams and several nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Cullasaja Gorge Fire and Rescue, 104 River Road, Franklin, NC  28734.

Macon Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Condolences can be made at

Alva Keith Clark

Alva Keith Clark, 74, of Bradenton, Fla., slipped peacefully into the arms of his loving Saviour on Monday, June 26, 2017.

He was born Nov. 26, 1942,  in Deerfield, Mich., to the late Alva C. Clark and the late Velma Robey Clark. He was the proud son of a farmer and his life of being blessed to be raised on a farm and surrounded by a loving and hardworking family indeed helped to mold and make him the man that he became. In 1963 he moved to Bradenton, Fla., to make his home, where he became involved in the real estate industry and became a licensed realtor. In the year 1964, he married the true love of his life, Deanna Lockwood and together they have shared 52 wonderful years of marriage. His faith was an important part of his life and he was a member of Bethel Baptist Church in Bradenton. He had also served as the Minister of Music at Calvary Baptist Church and Bethel Baptist Church both located in Bradenton. He was also a gifted musician and his talent of sharing his joy of playing the trumpet was a blessing to so very many. He amazed everyone with his ability to fix or repair anything and he eagerly tackled a project put before him. An avid motorcyclist, he was well known for his travels from Key West, Fla., to Gallatin, Tenn., and all across the mountains of Western North Carolina. Alva Keith Clark will forever be remembered for his special way of comforting those who needed his “hugs and healing touch “ and a man who has devoted his life to his Lord and to his family.

Left to cherish his memory are his devoted wife, Deanna Lockwood Clark; his sons, Rev. Kevin Clark (Bonnie) of Bradenton, Kyle Clark of Franklin, N.C.; Kacy Clark (Jenn) of Bradenton;  grandchildren, Kristen (Michael), Courtney (Cody), Drew (Taylor), Suzanne, Adam and Abby; six great-grandchildren; a brother, Jack Clark of Gull Lake, Mich.; and a sister, Ruth Elaine Jankowski ( David) of Minooka, Ill., and many dear friends.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 23, at Bethel Baptist Church, 1805 30th Avenue West, Bradenton.

Memorials may be made to Bethel Baptist Church, Keith Clark Memorial Fund, 1805 30th Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205.

Crawford / Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service is honored to be caring for the Clark family and words of comfort may be shared at

Mary Ann Brown

Mary Ann Brown

Mary Ann Brown, 87, of Franklin, N.C., passed away Thursday, June 29, 2017.  She was born in Stoughton, Mass., the daughter of the late Walter and Anna Churchill.  She was a devoted wife and mother. She loved being with her family more than anything.  All of her ambitions were for the benefit of her family.  She worked for more than 20 years as a third shift supervisor for DEC in order to be with her children during the day.  After raising her children, she and her husband Walter retired in Florida.  She moved to Franklin in 2012.  She was a member of Grace Baptist Church in Worcester, Mass., and attended Franklin Covenant Church.    In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, Walter A. Brown and brothers, Robert and Frances Churchill.

Survivors include her children, Kathleen Lacroix of Salem, N.H., Patricia Brown of Ellijay, Ga., Dennis Brown of North Carolina, Cheryl Pellegrino of Franklin, Janice Graro of Edmond, Okla., Michael Brown and Walter Brown both of Worcester, Mass. and Christine Liseno of Franklin,; 14 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

A memorial celebration will be held at a later date in Paxton, Mass.

The family would like to thank the staff at Fidelia Eckerd Living Center for their kindness and special care that was shown to their mother.

Bryant-Grant Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Brown family.  Online condolences may be made at

Rosalie Watkins

Rosalie Watkins

Rosalie Watkins, 94, of Franklin, N.C., passed away peacefully in her sleep Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Born in Macon County, she was the daughter of the late Theodore and Lola Stilwell Kiser. She was married to Virgil Watkins who preceded her in death.

She loved her cat, Cassie, gardening in her roses, crossword puzzles and reading mystery novels. She spent many hours birdwatching. She and her husband, Virgil, enjoyed over 40 years of searching for treasures and running an antique shop.

Survivors include a daughter, Sandra Andrews (Robert) of Franklin; three granddaughters, Sheri Andrews, Amberlea Eary and Robin Terry and three great grandchildren, Megan Terry, Joshua Terry and Logan Eary.

A funeral service was held Saturday, July 1, in the chapel of Bryant-Grant Funeral Home and Crematory with Rev. Greg Rogers officiating. Burial followed at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Bryant-Grant Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Watkins family. Online condolences may be made at

Robert Jennings

Robert Jennings, 58, of Franklin, N.C., passed away on Sunday, July 2, 2017.

Born in Jacksonville, Fla., he was the son of the late Howard and Maude Allison Jennings. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two sisters, Linda and Marcel and one granddaughter, Aubrey Ackmann. He was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He loved sports and was Baptist by faith.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Ellen Jennings; two daughters, Amanda Ackmann and husband Kevin of Chippewa Falls, Wisc., and Stephanie Thompson and husband Kenneth of Campobello, S.C.; one brother, Ron Johnson of Largo, Fla.; one sister, Denise Brown of St. Martinville, La.; and four grandchildren, Noah and Samuel Ackmann and Ryan and Josh Thompson.

Private services will be held at a later date.

Macon Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Condolences can be made at

John David ‘JD’ Roper

John David ‘JD’ Roper

John David “JD” Roper, 82, of Franklin, N.C., passed away Saturday, July 1, 2017.

Born in Macon County, he was the son of the late Orpha and Beulah Younce Roper.  In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a son, Larry Roper and a brother, Kenneth Roper.  He was a U.S. Army veteran, a dairy farmer and a member of Mt. Sinai Assembly of God.  He enjoyed woodworking.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Dorothy Jean Tallent Roper; five children, Connie Underwood, Debbie Roper, John Roper, and Kim Nowak, all of Franklin, and Randy Roper and fiancé Beverly Montelone of Gainesville, Ga.; one sister, Betty Canter; four brothers, Earl G. Roper, Wayne Roper, Mac Roper and Burt Roper; 11 grandchildren; 20 great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral service was held Wednesday, July 5, at Mt. Sinai Assembly of God.  Rev. John Raby and Rev. Robert Dryman officiated.  Burial was in the Roper Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Donnie Roper, Jacob Roper, Joey Nowak, Willie Boyce, Robert Boyce and Mike Holden.

Honorary pallbearer was C.B. Roper.

Macon Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Condolences can be made at

Catherine Ruth Fountain

Catherine Ruth Fountain, 73, of Mountain City, Ga., passed away on June 29, 2017, with her family surrounding her. She was the widow of Donald Ralph Fountain and the daughter of the late Pink Andy Gibson and Gladys Virginia Smith Gibson.

She was a member of Blue Heights Baptist Church and was a devoted Christian. In her professional life she was a bus driver for the Rabun County Education System for 29 years. She loved being around the students, and enjoyed getting to know each one. She was a member of the Mountain City Council for 25 years, devoting her time to serve her community. She loved being around her grandchildren and loved taking care of them, watching them in sporting events, and just being with them.

In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by one brother, John Gibson; one sister, JoAnn G. Shope.

Her survivors include her sons, Mike Fountain, Johnny Fountain (Christy) and Stevie Fountain (Jessie); one sister, Linda Holland (Tony); her grandchildren, Lydia Fountain, Logan Fountain, Summer Fountain, Robbie Fountain. The family extends a special thank you to Sandra Jones for her compassion and care of Ruth.

A funeral service was held Saturday, July 1, at the Beck Funeral Home with Rev. Teddy King officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in her honor to the Sid Weber Memorial Cancer Fund P.O. Box 485 Rabun Gap, GA 30568 or the Rabun County Bus Drivers Scholarship Fund 963 Tiger Connector Tiger, GA 30576.

Beck Funeral Home, in Clayton, Ga., is in charge of the arrangements.  An online Memorial Register Book is available at

Willie Fortson

Willie Fortson was born in Habersham County on Jan 8, 1941, to Ernest Fortson and Viola Stephens Fortson in Mt. Airy, Ga. He was united in matrimony to Hattie Owens Fortson, and to this union three children were born. He peacefully went home to be with the lord on Thursday June 29, 2017.

He attended and graduated from high school in Habersham County, after which he received further educational training at North Georgia Technical College as a brick mason. He also served on the Clayton City Council for 12 years and served on several boards, such as the hospital board, board of education, recreational board, and was responsible for implementing several grants. He taught Sunday school at the Ivy Hill Baptist Church and was also a member of the Clayton Church of God where he served the Lord faithfully.  He also was employed by The Home Depot.

He was preceded in death by one son, Michael Fortson; three brothers, Oscar Fortson, Clifford Fortson, Ernest Fortson; one sister, Fannie Fortson Dooley.

He leaves to cherish his memories, two sons, and one daughter-in-law, Mitchell Fortson, of Cornelia, Ga., Adrian Fortson, of the home and Kathleen Cunningham Fortson, of Buford, Ga.; two grandchildren and one granddaughter-in-law, Shawn Cunningham (Nicole), of Atlanta, Ga., Michael T. Fortson, of Buford, Ga.; One sister, Ladell Tutt, of Cornelia, Ga.; five sisters-in-law: four brothers-in-law, and a host of nieces and nephews also survive him.

A funeral service was held at the Clayton Church of God Sunday July 2, with the Rev. Brian Alexander officiating. Interment followed in the Pendland Cemetery.

Beck Funeral Home in Clayton was in charge of the arrangements. An online Memorial Register Book is available at

Steve Valdez

Steve Valdez

Steve Valdez, 56, of Franklin, N.C., passed away, Saturday, July 1, 2017.  Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he was the son of the late Steve Valdez Sr. and Mary Ann Kindle. In addition to his father he was preceded in death by a brother Alejandero (Al) Valdez.  He was a painter by trade, he enjoyed friends, family and he loved music.

He is survived by his significant other, Celia Carpenter; mother Mary Ann Kindle and stepfather Earl Kindle of Cedar Springs, Mich.; a son, Anthony Yskes of Zeeland, Mich.,  sisters, Valerie Brock (Sam Dills),  Ida Smith and husband Ken of Owasso, Mich.; five grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

The family would like to express their appreciation for the wonderful staff of Four Seasons Hospice and especially the staff at the Highlands-Cashiers hospital. Donations may be made in his memory to Four Seasons Hospice, 571 S. Allen Road, Flat Rock, NC  28731.

Bryant-Grant Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Valdez family.  Online condolences may be made at