Cana/Pino: Remembering those lost in 2020

Published 10:14 am Thursday, January 7, 2021

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By Betty Etchison West

Cana/Pino Correspondent

Good-bye to the year 2020 and to some wonderful people who died during that year. This is not a complete list of the people we have lost in the last year—it is just some who were connected to Wesley Chapel or the Wesley Chapel breakfast and one who was a special friend of mine whose obituary I found interesting.

Nora Cline Latham, 96, was certainly a first lady in our community. She helped in the Pino community and at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church. She was indeed the best cook around, and we all still miss her smile and her chocolate pies. We miss you, Nora, but we will not forget you and all you did for each of us and for your church and community. Nora was buried at Wesley Chapel beside her husband, Harmon Latham, on Dec. 12.

Madeleine Smoot Sparks died about one month before Nora Latham and was buried at Macedonia Moravian Church beside her husband, Johnny Sparks. Both Nora and Madeleine were in school at Farmington High School at the same time and remained friends through the years since they graduated. Mrs. Sparks was my teacher at Mocksville High School and was the only one of my teachers still living in 2020. Mrs. Sparks was a good teacher, who was just out of college when she taught me those many years ago—I graduated from Mocksville High School in 1950. Mrs. Sparks stopped teaching, raised a family of six children, and then started teaching again – always smart and right up-to-date on everything. Letty Foster (Smith) and I even went to the Smoot-Sparks wedding at Bear Creek Baptist Church. What I am trying to say is that I and others in this community have good memories of Madeleine Smoot Sparks, a special 95-year-old lady, who died from Covid-19 as did her oldest son, Edwin, and his wife, Carol. Mrs. Spark’s son-in-law, Michael Miller, is a member of Wesley Chapel, and we want him and his wife, Nancy Sparks Miller, that to know they have the sympathy of the Wesley Chapel people.

Anna Ruth Whitlock Davis was not a resident of Pino or a member of Wesley Chapel, but she was involved in the community and church activities because she was a dear friend of Vernon Dull, who was much a part of both our church and community. Ruth lived in Mocksville and was active in the First Methodist Church there, but she attended all special services and activities at our church and all of the parties and dinners of the Fellowship Sunday School Class of Wesley Chapel.  We just counted Ruth as one of our own. Vernon’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren claimed Ruth as their grandmother and called her “Nana.” We all miss Ruth, who was 95 when she died.

Betty Anderson Spillman, 83, a sweet lady who lived in the Courtney community, because she came to the country ham breakfast at the Wesley Chapel Fellowship Hall even when she had to come in a wheelchair.  We always enjoyed having Betty, and her husband, Troy Spillman, and appreciated the great effort they put forth to come to breakfast.

Another member of the Courtney community died just last week.  That person is Charles “Bud” Baity. He was a long-time supporter of Wesley Chapel. He came to breakfast there until we had to stop serving breakfast because of Covid-19.  Even when he lived at an assisted-living facility, he would drive himself to Pino to the country ham breakfast.  Bud wanted to come to the breakfast, and we wanted him to be there because he always had some tale with which to entertain.   Until her death, Bud and his wife, Nell, were generous in their support of Wesley Chapel.  After Nell’s death, Bud continued that support. Wesley Chapel people were grateful to Bud and Nell Baity and Bud’s brother, Clarence Baity, and his wife, Estelle, for their generosity when we built the new Fellowship Hall.  Bud was 91 when he died, and he was a person we all loved and appreciated.

Another supporter of the Wesley Chapel breakfast passed away in 2020.  That person was Wilson Sparks, who came to breakfast each month with his wife, Kathy, even though he had to use a scooter to get around.  It was always a special pleasure to see Wilson and Kathy who seemed to enjoy the breakfast. Wilson died just after his 80th birthday. The people of our church want Kathy to know that she has our sympathy.

I lost a friend about two months ago who was not a member of our community, church, or our state.  Grace Burleigh lived in Wayne, Maine. Grace was a dear friend of my uncle, Walter Etchison, and thereby became my friend. When I read 101-year-old Grace’s obituary,   I thought, “This is a history of the last hundred years in capsule form.”

I guess once a teacher, always a teacher because I found myself wanting to share this history lessons with the readers.

The obituary said, “Grace lived through two pandemics, prohibition, and woman’s suffrage.  She stood with her father, August Vorpahl, at the Roosevelt Field in 1927 to witness Charles Lindbergh begin his transatlantic flight. She lived through the Great Depression, two World Wars, the founding of McDonald’s, the entire cold War, black and white TV to having a smart TV and watching Netflix. She lived during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Brown vs. the Board of Education, the invention of the atomic bomb, the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crises, the assassination of JFK, the death of Marin Luther King, Roe, vs. Wade, the rise of the personal computer, the birth of the internet, the Maine Ice Storm of 1998, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, and cell phones…..She witnessed America’s first African-American President.  She actually lived to see 18 U. S. Presidents in her lifetime and voted for the first time for Harry Truman much to her father’s dismay.”  The obituary also described Grace as “sharp as a tack, stubborn, wise, very flirtatious, humble, accepting of our changing world and absolutely bionic.”  It is easy to see why I loved Grace Burleigh of Wayne, Maine, who I visited often by telephone.