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Volume 17 • Issue 2 October/November 2021

October / November 2021





Dianne Davant Moffitt, ASID Pamela McKay, ASID Priscilla Hyatt Councill,

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Home and community information, including pricing, included features, terms, availability and amenities, are subject to change, prior sale or withdrawal at any time without notice or obligation. Drawings, photographs, renderings, video, scale models, square footages, floor plans, elevations, features, colors and sizes are approximate for presentation purposes only and may vary from the homes as built. Home prices refer theUbase options/ or premiums, unless G H CtoO N Tprice R Y ofMtheAhouse G A Zand I NdoEnot include October November 2021otherwise indicated for a specific home. Nothing on our website should be construed as legal, accounting or tax advice. Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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Asset to Avery County


Provider for the Pet Population

Banner Elk resident Jim Swinkola has dedicated his life to serving the community and bringing awareness to many ongoing issues in Avery County.


Dr. David Linzey, veterinarian and owner of the Pet Care Clinic, Animal Emergency Clinic and Ridge Runner Pet Lodging, shares his story that stems from his passion for animal care.


Biking and BBQ Ethan Anderson is always on the move being the owner of both Pedalin’ Pig locations, and his life is getting even busier with the addition of Woodlands Barbeque and Wheelie’s Refresher.


Memories that Last a Lifetime


On and Off the Court


Reflecting on 75 Years of Rotary


At the age 81, highly acclaimed artisan Leniavell Trivette has many skills that are drawn from her rich experiences throughout her lifetime, which are a treasure she is sharing with others.

After a career being a coach, professor and athletic administrator, Judy Clarke continues to apply her strong work ethic to volunteer and lead organizations benefiting children, animals and others in Boone.

44 66

Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club is a volunteer service organization with members who have been touching and impacting the lives of others near and far through local and global projects.

on the cover Joe Nitti

Joe Nitti of Wonderful World Photography shared one of his favorite fall photos of a view of Rough Ridge Trail overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway. An avid adventurer and world explorer, he enjoys capturing images from a different angle and perspective. He takes you on a” Path Less Traveled” revealing pure and untouched beauty of Nature of these Blue Ridge Mountains and afar. Visit his website ( for more details of his work and ways to purchase his photos. 8


October / November 2021


October / November 2021




A Publication Of High Country Press Publications

Editor & Publisher Ken Ketchie

Art Director Debbie Carter Advertising Director Jeffrey Green

Ken Ketchie


Where Do Your Stories Ideas Come From?

’m often asked about how we come up with story ideas for our magazine. And there’s no easy answer for that. Typically, they just seem to fall in our lap. There are, of course, the obvious stories that all of us local editors jump on when writing about the big events and the movers and shakers around the High Country. And we always keep an eye out for the big anniversary stories as well as community projects that have come to fruition that need celebrating. However, the fun ones are the stories that we stumble upon. Sometimes it’s just catching a glimpse of something extraordinary out of the corner of your eye. Or a random phone call or email often turns into an idea. It’s not unusual to have a story come from a person you just happen to meet on the street or at some event. We don’t typically plan too far out for our story lineup for each issue, as we are always waiting to see what may pop up. Of course, this lack of planning can drive our writers crazy, as they have to jump on a story and get it finished by deadline. We’ve covered all kinds of stories over the last sixteen years, but I think the people stories are the most fun. We have the pleasure of getting to know someone as they share their story with us. We get a close up look on their lives, and through our interviews we hear about their memories and life experiences. And people have taken us to some amazing places. We’re invited into homes of all shapes and sizes, filled with character and mementos. People take us to their businesses for a look behind the scenes or a chance to experience someone’s passion. A big part of our storytelling on the pages of our magazine are the pictures. We like to have lots of pictures. So, the first test for a story idea is: are there pictures? And how can we get them? Lining up photo shoots is usually pretty doable — and that can also take you to some interesting places at all hours of a day. But getting those oldie goldie pictures from years ago that people think they have but aren’t quite sure where they are — that’s when it gets challenging. I’ve had many people digging through their closets, looking in basements and attics for that box or album of pictures that are just waiting to be found. It’s frustrating for just about everyone, especially as I keep hounding them to keep looking, but something almost always turns up to help us present the story. It takes a lot of searching, which means a lot of time, but I’ve had many people tell me it was actually fun going through old boxes stashed away and forgotten about, and coming across letters and pictures, little mementoes from trips and events that brings them lots of joy. If you’ve been growing up in the last couple of decades, you’ll have plenty of pictures handy to look through — if the cloud doesn’t crash. But if you’re in your fifties and above, can you remember where your grade school pictures are? You never know when a writer may show up at you door wanting to do your story. 10


October / November 2021

Contributing Writers Nathan Ham Harley Nefe Jan Todd Sherrie Norris

High Country Magazine is produced by the staff and contributors of High Country Press Publications, which serves Watauga and Avery counties of North Carolina.

Visit our online newspaper for the latest news happening in the High Country as well upcoming events and feature stories.

HIGH COUNTRY MAGAZINE P.O. Box 152, Boone, NC 28607 828-264-2262 Follow our magazine online where each issue is presented in a flip-through format. Check it out at: Reproduction or use in whole or part of the contents of this magazine without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Issues are FREE throughout the High Country. © 2021 by High Country Press. All Rights Reserved.



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October / November 2021





Boone United Methodist Church’s Firewood Ministry Gearing Up for the Fall and Winter Months


olunteers at Boone United Methodist Church have operated its firewood ministry since 2009 and are once again preparing to assist those in the community that need help staying warm this fall and winter by providing supplemental firewood. The program, which is part of the church’s community missions team, was started in 2009 by Vern Collins, who is the Pastor of Discipleship at the church, and former Appalachian State student Luke Edwards, who was a sophomore at the time. Fred Fonville, who has been working with the firewood ministry since 2018, said they are always looking for volunteers to come out and help split and deliver firewood around the community to those who otherwise might not be able to heat their homes. The wood is distributed to community members who are either supplementing their heat or totally existing off heat during the cold weather. The recipient may have to choose between groceries, medicine or heat costs, and the firewood ministry aims to help ease the burden of these folks having to compromise on essentials during the cold weather months. “We start cutting and splitting wood and making early deliveries before the cold weather hits, and we will run through the end of March or early April when the weather is steadily warmer,” Fonville said. “We work every Saturday morning from Labor Day through the end of March from 9 a.m. until noon.” Some volunteers have also been known to come out during the week to saw up logs or to make emergency deliveries depending on heating needs. Fonville said that all of the wood that they split gets donated to Boone United Methodist Church. “The wood is either from church members that have a tree come down or tree service companies in the area that donate to us,” he said. Boone United Methodist Church has two guidelines for donated wood: Logs should be less than 18 inches diameter; and the church does not accept pine. Senior Pastor Ed Glaize welcomes anyone that would like to come out and spend their time helping the community for the greater good. “When people are doing what you’re created to do, which is to go out and serve, no wonder you feel good about it. That’s what we’re made to do,” Pastor Glaize said. Quilts, blankets and lap robes are also provided to community members through this ministry, although the main focus of the ministry is the firewood. “We’re grateful for the Lord providing resources for us and directing us to take it out to the community,” Fonville said. “It’s always a blessing when we go out and meet folks and know that we can spread the gospel to them. It’s always a blessing for us to go and meet new families and see what their needs are, and we have actually attracted folks to come to church through this ministry, which is marvelous! We have young men and women who come out, and it’s open to everyone. We give a little basic instruction if they have never split wood before; otherwise, we just watch them to let them be safe and have fun.” For anyone in Boone that feels like they may need firewood this winter to keep their house warm, they are encouraged to reach out to Boone United Methodist Church, and they typically will be able to deliver wood to them on the same day or the next day. Wood is also available for pick-up. To learn more about volunteering or to make a request for firewood, you can call the church at 828-264-6090. By Harley Nefe 12


October / November 2021

Volunteers were on hand August 28th as they began preparations for another year of firewood deliveries.

October / November 2021





The High Country Breast Cancer Foundation is Giving Their All for the Community


he High Country Breast Cancer Foundation (HCBCF) was founded in April of 2017 with a unique mission and promise to the community — 100% of the funds they raise go to providing for the needs of breast cancer patients, survivors and their families in the North Carolina High Country. All the members of their organization are volunteers, and this year, they are celebrating their five year anniversary. “We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without the community support,” said Irene Sawyer, who is the founder of HCBCF. “Just from day one, everybody in the High Country has just embraced the Foundation. They’ve contributed; they’ve supported us; they’ve shown up for us, which is really awesome. We have raised so much money that we have helped so many people in so many different ways that it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.” In addition to celebrating their years of service, HCBCF members are busier than ever preparing for their annual 5K Walk/Run Event in October. After a successful 5K last year, HCBCF will once again hold its 5K virtually, due to the increased risk of COVID-19. Breast cancer does not take a break during the pandemic and neither does the Foundation. Registered participants can take part in the 5K anywhere and begin anytime they choose on October 30, by walking, running or hiking. HCBCF encourages folks to participate with their family, friends and fourlegged companions because prizes will be awarded. The prize categories include: participant located the furthest from Blowing Rock, oldest participant, youngest participant, best costume/racewear, best overall team, director’s choice and favorite animal participant. In order to enter into the competition, participants are asked to take a picture and send it, while indicating the prize category, to the Foundation on Facebook at To register for the 5K event, visit the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation’s website at “We are a true nonprofit,” Sawyer said. “Nobody gets paid for working

Founder of the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation, Irene Sawyer, celebrating their 5th year.

with the Foundation, and any expenses of the Foundation, I cover those personally. For example, the t-shirts that we have during each race, I pay for them out of my real estate practice because I want to be able to stand in front of people and say ‘I can promise you 100% of whatever you give


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October / November 2021


will go to patients, nobody else.’” All of the proceeds from the registration money goes directly to breast cancer patients locally in the High Country to assist with any needs they have. HCBCF lets their clients tell them what kind of assistance would be most beneficial through their treatments and journey. “We help children who have survived a patient who has died by contributing to a college fund for some of these children,” Sawyer explained. “It basically comes down to when we find a new patient that needs our help, we interview them, and we basically say to them, ‘How can we best help you?’ For example, when we had that big snow storm last year, we got a call from a patient who couldn’t get out of her driveway because of the snow, and she had to get her chemotherapy. So, we were able to get somebody out there to plow her driveway. It’s all over the place. It’s gas cards. It’s food. We let the client tell us what they need, and that’s what we do for them.” Sawyer is pleased with how well the Foundation has taken off in five years, and her own personal battle with breast cancer has provided the motivation needed to see the nonprofit through. “My inspiration for founding HCBCF, believe it or not, is because I’m really not supposed to be here,” Sawyer said. “I had triple-negative breast cancer, which has a 30% survival rate, and the odds were not good for me, but I had so much community support. I had so much positive energy sent my way that I truly believe that helped me survive this, and now I’m ten years out. And what I did was I would volunteer for different breast cancer organizations, but I never felt like I was doing enough. And so the High Country really gave me the opportunity to fulfill a dream. It’s not like I’m doing this for the High Country; I’m not. The High Country has done this for me, and I found my place in life. I really did. The minute I started talking about this dream, everybody was on board, and I’ll never be able to thank the people of the High Country for doing that for me.” By Harley Nefe

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October / November 2021



Jim Swinkola: Connecting People with Causes O

By Nathan Ham • Photos by Ken Ketchie

n a summer (fall, winter or spring) morning, Jim Swinkola and anywhere from a dozen to two dozen or even more folks sit down for breakfast and fellowship. Jim has a goal in mind and needs the support of some other stakeholders in the Banner Elk/Avery County community. This collection of who’s who talk and laugh, share stories, puzzles and problems. They exchange emails and cell numbers, suggest names and ideas. For almost 40 years, Jim has dedicated his life to helping others in the community, particularly children who are in desperate need of compassion and healing from traumatic childhood experiences. While he considers himself “retired,” he’s still out and about every day raising money and bringing awareness to many ongoing issues in Avery County. Born in 1948, Jim lived on a small farm in western Pennsylvania with his parents, one older brother and one younger sister. From a young age, he learned a strong work ethic by having to milk cows and work in the hayfields under a hot summer sun. “When I was 13 years old I had a very good calf. I was a 4-Her, worked hard on showmanship, and was able to go to the Penn16


October / November 2021

sylvania State Fair. My calf was fairly successful and I thought at 13, this was going to make me irresistible to all the nearby farmers’ daughters. Turns out that wasn’t quite the case,” Jim laughed.

“One of the things that kept me with Grandfather Home for Children for 31 years, was the focus on ministry to determine who was the child now before us, and it was no longer the orphaned child.” At Saegertown High School, he was able to parlay that strong work ethic into a blossoming athletic career. ”I was fortunate enough to participate in high school athletics, which led to an opportunity at Allegheny College; I was on both the football and

wrestling teams,” Jim said. While at Allegheny College, Jim was a member of three conference championship football teams in 1967-69. The 1968 team was inducted into the Allegheny College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019. Jim said that his athletic experiences helped him prepare for life outside of competition. “I learned more discipline and what you need to do to be successful in whatever you want,” he said. Jim played on the offensive line for the Allegheny Gators, first as a guard and then he eventually bulked up and moved to offensive tackle for the 1968 season. It was that added size that helped Jim land his first job out of college. “After graduation, I went to work at Bethesda Home for Children. The reason I got that job wasn’t that I had a college degree or because I wanted to work with youth. The Executive Director of Bethesda Home filmed all the Allegheny football games so he saw me in uniform playing football. He called me into his office Jim Swinkola is at an area known as Resurrection Hill that is used for communities’ sunrise Easter services. The Grandfather Home campus can be seen at the bottom of the hill. Some Easter services would see around 150 folks gathered at the cross. October / November 2021



Jim was a standout wrestler and football player at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. He was a starter on the winning football teams from 1967-69 and was part of the 1968 conference championship team that was inducted into the Allegheny College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019. He was awarded an Honorable Mention place on Allegheny Football All-Century Team. While at Allegheny he was a 191 pound class conference championship wrestler.

Jim and his wife Ann are pictured here in their apartment not long after getting married. The two met while they were in college.

Jim, Ann and their son, Brian, who was born in 1976 in Berea, Ohio. Brian was the first of two sons they had with Jon coming along later in 1979.


and said, ‘Jim, would you consider coming to work for me?’ I said, ‘Is that because I have a degree?’ He said no. He needed somebody bigger and stronger to work with these kids,” Jim said. This was a learning moment for Jim as well. In his words, he knew he had to get a whole lot smarter to be able to properly mentor these children. Jim enrolled at West Virginia University and earned a Master of Social Work degree. After completing the courses at WVU, Swinkola moved to Berea, Ohio, where he started working at the United Methodist Children’s Home. During this time in his career, Jim said he learned pretty quickly that to advance in this career path, there were two directions to go. “One path was to get a Ph.D., the other course was to look more into the business side of things. When I talked to executives and listened to them, all they wanted to do was talk about family therapy and the latest therapeutic interventions. They didn’t want to talk about how to raise money, how to deal with a board, how to get things politically that you needed or how to have a preventative maintenance plan,” Jim said. Jim decided to pursue the business avenue and enrolled at Baldwin-Wallace College (now Baldwin-Wallace

Jim’s parents, Blaine and Ann Swinkola, along with their grandsons Brian and Jon Swinkola H I G H C OinUMeadville, N T R Y M APennsylvania. GAZINE October / November 2021

This photo of Jim’s dad Blaine Swinkola was taken shortly after he retired. University) in Berea. He received his Master of Business Administration degree and took a position as the assistant director at Camp Oakland in southern Michigan. During this time, Jim and Ann had both of their sons. ​​Brian was born in 1976 and Jon was born in 1979.

Making the Move to Grandfather Home for Children

Not long after his move to Michigan, the High Country of North Carolina came calling. “In 1983, I answered God’s call

to come to Banner Elk to work for the Presbyterians. I started as the Executive Director at Grandfather Home for Children and was fortunate enough to be there for 31 years,” Jim said. “The agency went through significant changes during those three decades. Rather than having just one program at one location, there were numerous programs at various locations across the state. Children would move as their skills and their healing continued to less restrictive programs.” The ability to take on the role of a CEO position and fully utilize his multiple degrees was the most attractive aspect to taking the position. Grandfather Home was founded by Presbyterian Pastor Edgar Tufts whose Banner Elk Presbyterian Church is the church that Jim and his wife Ann still attend. Initially an orphanage, the children’s home gradually became a place designed to provide care for children who had suffered through childhood abuse, whether it be mental, physical or sexual abuse. “One of the things that kept me with Grandfather Home for Children for 31 years, was the focus on ministry to determine who was the child now before us, recognizing that it was no longer the orphaned child. As the boy or the girl needing care began to change, Grandfather Home, through its board and staff, was able to change to meet those needs,” Swinkola said. “As the child coming to Grandfather Home had more and more behavioral health care issues and suffered more significant abuse and neglect, we began to change programs to meet those needs.” As Grandfather Home continued to evolve, Jim also had to deal with providing educational opportunities for the children. The

Grandfather Home For Children

Edgar Tufts, who found his way to Banner Elk in 1896 as a student pastor from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, was credited with starting Lees-McRae College in 1900, the first hospital in town (Grace Hospital in 1908) and also Grandfather Orphans’ Home in 1914. Grandfather Home was established in an old farmhouse in an area of land called Maple Meadows Farm. The first children arrived at the home in May of 1914.

Once Grandfather Home opened, members of Banner Elk Presbyterian Church brought some of their own chairs, beds, quilts and dishes for use in the home. During its first year, Grandfather Home took in 16 orphans supervised by John and Mettie Holcomb, the first couple that operated the home. In 1915, eight additional rooms were added to the farmhouse and in 1917, the Grier Cottage was built for the boys on campus.

The Grandfather Home eventually left the orphanage model behind and became a place for children to be that have had to deal with levels of physical and mental abuse. The goal was to properly treat these children with the hopes of reuniting them with members of their families. October / November 2021

children at the home were not allowed to enroll in the Avery County School System due to a variety of reasons including special education funding issues and end-ofyear testing measurements. “We of course took issue with that. The legal system became involved, but the rescuer and the silver lining to it was the institution of charter schools in North Carolina. Grandfather Academy became one of the first 32 charter schools in the state. It was specifically created to serve children who were residents of Grandfather Home, or community children who had similar sorts of backgrounds through abuse and neglect,” Jim said. Grandfather Home became both an educational program and a treatment program for the children there. Average class size was about eight children per class with two adults in the classroom at all times. One adult was a behavioral healthcare aide who was trained in therapeutic interventions, and the other adult was an academic coordinator who was class teacher. “So, it really became a blend for the children that addressed their primary need for being admitted, the mental health and behavioral health care issues, but also recognizing as these children got older, they needed to learn much more educational sorts of things,” Jim said. The school curriculum followed the same path as the traditional public school system in North Carolina, so if a child left Grandfather Home and returned to parents or a foster home, they could easily join an age-appropriate class in a new school. “It really turned out to be miraculous and children began experiencing success in school. Up until this point, 99 out of 100 had not expe-



rienced success within the public school. That was the real key, the boys and girls turned out to be the winners from having Grandfather Academy Charter School here,” Jim said. “The other piece that I felt was a burden I carried every day was that unless I was successful, the children would not be successful. There were kids who had been in 30 different places before they came to Grandfather Home. Kids didn’t know where home was. If you go through those kinds of difficulties, unless there is a successful intervention, the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Those are the boys and girls who end up in prisons and psychiatric wards.” In 2006, Swinkola and Grandfather Home were awarded the Ernest Amory Codman Award from the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations that “recognizes excellence in performance measurement.” The award honors people and organizations for their use of process and outcomes measures to improve performance and quality of care. “Jim had a team of people who had developed much of the continuum of care concept so that a child could come in at this level, go up to this level or go down a level depending on how their needs were met. That Codman Award recognition was probably one of the most rewarding and prestigious things to him,” Ann said. “The requirements of the national recognition seemed mind-boggling but they did it. They worked hard and carefully developed it and it was a great program.” Things weren’t always smooth sailing at Grandfather Home. Jim recalled one story in particular where a pair of young teens around the age of 13 and 14 decided to take a joyride in a school bus parked at Banner Elk Elementary. “They were going down towards Morganton at about 3:30 in the morning and were absolutely surprised when a state trooper pulled them over,” he said.” Jim also had to deal with the accidental deaths of two children on the Grandfather Home campus. Another eye-opening experience as Jim saw it, was trying to understand why some adolescent girls in treatment girls would cut themselves as a way to deal with their problems. “This was a strange phenomenon for me why some adolescent girls in treatment would cut themselves. I talked to the children, trying to understand this and it just wasn’t making any sense to me at all,” he said. “Then in preparing a church presentation, I decided that I was going to use a shard of glass as an illustration of the changing child. I went out to my garage and put a bottle on the floor, put a towel over it and hit it with a hammer. I wasn’t smart enough to cover the entire bottle, and a shard of glass came out and hit me in the hand. And for the next couple of seconds, I understood how, when your body is cut and hurting, that’s the only thing you pay attention to.” Coming from his business training, Swinkola 20


A trustee named Jack Clark commissioned this sculpture in honor of Jim. The sculpture symbolizes Jesus calling the children to be with him since faith was such an important aspect of life for Jim and the Grandfather Home.

Many people in Banner Elk credit Jim Swinkola for saving Wildcat Lake. After the lake’s dam was condemned by the state, Grandfather Home helped pay to fix the dam. Repairs took three years to complete.

Jim retired from Grandfather Home in 2013 at the age of 65. He is pictured here with a frame of mementos from his time at the home during a retirement party. Photo by Todd Bush

October / November 2021

knew that he had to find ways to raise money for Grandfather Home to be able to keep services available to children who really needed them. “I learned really quickly that you need private money, so I figured out how to raise funds to keep improving the programs. Edgar Tufts’ first priority was not to incur debt. So, during the 31 years I was there, we acquired no debt. But we still were able to renovate buildings, build new buildings and expand new programs across western North Carolina for children,” Jim said. During his time at Grandfather Home, Jim said that the endowment fund increased about $1 million per year, allowing the ministry to build funds for future expansions and unexpected expenses. To be able to raise this money, one of the things Jim had to grasp was learning how to become a strong public speaker. He said that he was a shy child, so public speaking became a new skill for him early in his career at Grandfather Home. “I looked at the financial statements and there was no choice. I either needed to leave and find a different profession or develop the skill needed to make this place work,” Jim said. “I tried to learn

Jim and Ann Swinkola recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on August 14. The couple loves the Banner Elk community and have no plans of leaving it. Ann designed their 22-sided retirement home near Wildcat Lake.

“ E l e va te Yo u r Ta s te ” an d e njoy Win e Co un try in th e High Co un try 9 5 5 7 L i n v i l l e Fa l l s H w y L i n v i l l e Fa l l s , N C 2 8 6 4 7 (828) 765-1400 Milepost #317 on the B l u e R i d g e Pa r k w a y Vi s i t o u r We b s i t e :

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as much as I could and constantly request feedback from folks to see how I could hone my message.” Roy Krege, who worked at LeesMcRae College in 1964 and eventually worked alongside Jim at Grandfather Home, saw first-hand how much Jim was able to improve the home and the services that they offered. “Jim took Grandfather Home from less than a $1 million endowment to something like $32 million in his time there. He really had people wanting to support it and see how great it was,” Krege said. “I think we became a good team.” The bond between the two men who were born well away from Banner Elk and found their way here, has meant a lot to each of them over the years. “Roy Krege was my mentor; he taught me how to do things. He was at the dining room table in 1983 when I ate my first grit,” laughed Jim. “Roy took care of me and kept me in line. He told me things that I would be smarter to do more, and things that I would be smarter to do less .“ Jim’s wife, Ann, remembered a lot of the changes and challenges that Jim dealt with right out of the gate. He instituted stronger qualifications for prospective employees. He saw that a preventative maintenance plan for buildings and a huge fleet of campus vehicles was created. Major upgrades in technology went along with procedures for filling board vacancies. Eventually, Jim effected the whole governance of Grandfather Home, helping the board create a new parent board with eight subsidies to better guide the various individual programs of the ministry, Ann reported. “The board appeared pleased with Jim, sometimes the staff—not so much. His style of supervision was to go out and walk around. Jim wasn’t just looking for information from various supervisors, he was out there with boots on the ground and didn’t hesitate to tell someone no if he didn’t like it,” Ann said. “As he has gone along, Jim has learned to apply everything he has learned to what he is doing next.” Being able to apply his business knowledge and his ability to fundraise allowed for many new expansions and upgrades at Grandfather Home. “He built the maintenance building, the family support center, Campbell Cottage and one of the most public building projects he undertook was Wildcat Lake when the lake was drained and the dam rebuilt. People were really upset. They 22


Jim is pictured here with long-time friend Roy Krege. In addition to their inseparable friendship, the two worked together at Grandfather Home for a number of years and are both active members of the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk. Jim considers Roy to be one of his greatest mentors.

Jim and Ann are pictured here talking with some fellow members of the congregation at Banner Elk Presbyterian Church. Jim is always there at the front door to speak to people coming in for church and there at the end of the service to wish people the best for the rest of their day.

October / November 2021

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Jim has started inviting people to come together for breakfast at the Banner Elk Café as an opportunity for like-minded individuals to discuss issues that have recently come up in the Banner Elk and Avery County communities. thought that he had deliberately shut down the lake so developers could come in and build high rises around the lake,” Ann said. In reality, a state inspection had condemned the dam and said that it had to be rebuilt. It took about three years to rebuild the dam and get the lake back to full capacity.

ing his home in Banner Elk was the beginning of the process for Jim to understand the importance of religion in his work. Grandfather Home became a way for

A Man of Faith

Jim describes himself as a Christian, both in thought and behavior. “I grew up within the Catholic Church, and the way the scriptures were taught to me, acts and good works were important. So, I learned to do those kinds of things that were commanded by scripture,” he said. “I married a Presbyterian and began to learn that the Presbyterians in particular view salvation by grace. And according both what I learned as a Catholic and then as a Presbyterian, you need to leave yourself open to the Holy Spirit.” His previous work with Methodists and Lutherans along the way before find-

Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly (left) and former Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk President Jeff Davis spoke fondly of Jim and his community work. Swinkola to put those kind acts to work. “The focus is on translating good things, translating the ministry, to make sure that boys and girls are better off after their interaction with the organization than before. I think that’s really what our

Lord meant,” he said.

Lasting Impacts in Banner Elk

Even after retiring from Grandfather Home in 2013 at the age of 65, Jim has stayed busy finding additional ways to benefit those in need in Avery County, particularly through his work with the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk and the High Country Charitable Foundation. Jim and Ann Swinkola live in a 22-sided house, an icosikaidigon, on Hickory Nut Gap Road near Wildcat Lake. Ann oversaw the construction of the house with the goal to have it serve as a retirement home, complete with an elevator. “My wife and I fell in love with Banner Elk. I like there is only one stoplight in town. I like when I go to the post office, I can talk to 10 people before I leave,” he said. “Banner Elk is extra special; I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I’ve always had good neighbors surrounding me, and I’ve always felt supported by the community. It was a con-

Jim continues to bring people together to support causes that benefit those less fortunate in Avery County. Through his work with the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk and the High Country Charitable Foundation, Jim has been able to touch many lives in the county. 24


October / November 2021

This summer, Jim helped organize an event with two local representatives of Avery County. “Those of us in Avery County are excited and optimistic that the July 23 ‘A Conversation with Warren Daniel and Dudley Greene’ will lead to measurable improvements benefitting quality of life in a number of areas,” Jim said. scious decision to come here in 1983, and it was a conscious decision at the end of 2013 to stay here.” Ann said at first she was worried about Jim slowing down once he decided to retire from Grandfather Home. “Turns out I didn’t have to worry about that at all, he has just kept going right on,” Ann said. “There were a number of people who came in with new non-profits, and if they were new to the community or new to being a CEO, many

people referred them to Jim Swinkola-- he got many calls.” Krege, who is also a member of the Kiwanis Club, said that Jim’s ability to go out and connect with people has kept community participation at a high level in Banner Elk. “In my opinion, Kiwanis is still going because of Jim and Ann. When it dropped off as most service clubs have done, Jim has been the best member we’ve ever had in getting members to come and join,” Roy said.


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Jim has been an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk since 1983. The club sponsors and co-sponsors numerous events that end up raising money that the Kiwanis Club gives to non-profit organizations in the form of grants to help support their mission. “Jim will get something going, and when he most vulnerable,” she said. As an example, need to coordinate with one another or feels that it’s going pretty good, he’ll say he’s according to Ann, Jim was able to secure have some kind of engagement with difgoing to do it for six more weeks. When he three private foundation grants to secure ferent things, and it has really been helpful says he’s finished, he’s pretty much finished new playground equipment for pre-school in so many ways to so many people. These are people from all over the county. People with it. He didn’t seem to be at any time children at the town’s Tate-Evans Park. Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly is who make decisions, and I really look forto me someone who wanted to be on the ward to these breakfasts. He’s always front page. He would humbly accept thinking and trying to better everythe credit when it came.” thing in our area,” she said. Krege is probably most wellAs part of his mission to continue known for being “Mr. Woolly Worm” adding interested members to the Kifor all of his efforts with the Woolly wanis Club, he has been inviting new Worm Festival, another event with folks to attend their monthly meetings. which Jim spent years volunteering “He would bring like 10 guests to his time. every meeting, and they’d be differ“Jim worked for years running the ent guests. Then after the meeting, he name tags of the Woolly Worm racers would ask them if they would be inover to us in the tent to announce. It terested in being a member of the Kiwas his way of keeping things orgawanis Club, so he single-handedly has nized,” Roy said. built up the Kiwanis Club, so we’re Nancy Owen, who is the Banner thankful for that,” Lyerly added. Elk Tourism Development Authority Jim was one of several members who helped organize the Jeff Davis, a former President of Director, noted that Jim is a phenom- 50th-anniversary celebration of the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk. Its Golden Jubilee Year was celebrated in 2018. the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk, first enal fundraiser and works hard to met Jim in 2014 and quickly learned meet many needs in Avery County. “Jim sees the need and then finds a way also a member of the Kiwanis Club of to appreciate what all he does for Avery to meet that need. He has a lot of connec- Banner Elk and has been invited to Jim’s County. “I think he’s a great steward of comtions and knows a lot of people, and he re- breakfast meetings at the Banner Elk Cafe. “Jim has a monthly fellowship break- munity work, and he does a lot of behindally cares about the people of Avery County and meeting the needs of those that are fast, and he selects people who he thinks the-scenes stuff that people don’t see. You

The Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk has given numerous grants throughout the years to non-profit organizations all over Avery County. Jim has presented these checks to these groups many times over the years and truly enjoys helping those that are most in need. 26


October / November 2021

Ann Swinkola has also played a major role with the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk as the first female member and female president of the club. She is pictured here at a reading event for local students in Avery County. know he has nervous energy, which is okay. He’s got to go, got to be going and got to be doing, and the community benefits from it,” Davis said. “Jim is a pretty straight shooter. He doesn’t beat around the bush, and if you ask him to do something, you don’t have to worry about it being done. I consider Jim a friend, and I can objectively tell you that this community that we live in is a better place because of him.” Many nonprofits in Avery County have benefited greatly from Jim and his fundraising abilities. Jesse Pope, who is the Executive Director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, was a student at LeesMcRae College when he first met Jim. They have remained close through the years. “Jim was one of the first people to reach out to me to congratulate me and also to understand the role in what a job like this en-

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In anticipation of Jim’s retirement in 2013, Jim and Ann began work on their new home in the fall of 2009. The home is located on Hickory Nut Gap Road, just up the road from the Grandfather Home for Children campus. Ann oversaw the construction of the house which is a 22-sided structure, an icosikaidigon, that is complete with an elevator. tails. He was a quick mentor to me in a lot of different ways,” Pope said. “He was just so good at teaching me some of the things that most people have to learn by fire. Jim was a really good mentor in that regard to me. He’s just been such a great leader and someone that I’ve looked up to as far as the way he treats people and the way that he motivates the community. He just has this tenacious personality that he gets things done and he knows how to keep the ball rolling.” Jesse also attends Banner Elk Presbyterian Church, so he has gotten a first-hand glimpse of the many things that Jim is involved with that support the church and the community. “He’s a true community servant, and he likes to do what’s best for the community. His focus shifts over time, he tries to solve one problem and puts an effort towards it, but he’s quick to be thinking about other things. I think his motivation is really that he has a big heart. He really wants people to succeed and wants the community to succeed,” Pope said. It’s not always people who have benefitted from Jim’s constant community outreach. Gwynne Dyer, the Executive Director of the Avery Humane Society, thinks of Jim as the “Ambassador of Avery County.” 28


“You feel like you can always reach out to Jim and if he can help you, he will. His love of the area seems to be the driving force for his desire to give back to the area” she said. “He’s been very helpful at running the meetings that we have had trying to get animal control services in Avery County.” Dyer has been a frequent guest at Jim’s special breakfast gatherings. “He’s a really good organizer and is always prepared. I could take a couple of lessons from him in always being prepared,” she laughed. The High Country Charitable Foundation is the latest beneficiary of Swinkola’s ability to bring people together for the common good. He has taken on the role of the community liaison for the foundation. “My association with the High Country Charitable Foundation started about six years ago when I got to know Jim Ward, who is the founder and chairman. I’ve watched them grow, watched them prosper, but more importantly, I’ve watched the nonprofit organizations that have benefited from their grants, grow and prosper, and do things now that they could never, ever do had it not been for the financial support of the High Country Charitable Foundation,” Jim said. “I have found that the High Country Charitable

October / November 2021

Foundation to be of miraculous support to meeting the needs of Avery County that would never even come close to being met by the other foundations, the church structure or government safety nets.” Jim Ward said that Swinkola has been a tremendous help to the High Country Charitable Foundation. “He’s one of the best of the best. He put his heart and soul into that children’s home and did everything he could to help. He was a tremendous fundraiser for Grandfather Home,” Ward said. “We started with zero at the High Country Charitable Foundation, and the foundation itself is probably 10 times larger than any foundation in Avery County. A lot of it has been because of Jim’s help and his fellowship breakfast. He is communicating with everybody and trying to tie everybody together for the common good of the county. He’s a real leader.” “One of the greatest things about a small community or small county, is that it is so easy to meet and talk to others about things that affect us all,” Jim said. “Everybody can help do so many things that affect so many others. My thanks to all the “everybodys” who pitch in to help to do so many things! Let the fellowship and breakfasts roll on!” t

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David Linzey



Animal Doctor S Story by Harley Nefe and Photography by Tara Diamond

ince it was established in 2005, The Animal Emergency Clinic of the High Country has had the same goal — to provide quality after-hours emergency veterinary care to the residents of Boone and the surrounding areas. Times were different in the High Country more than 16 years ago, and local veterinarians used to rotate being on-call various nights and weekends after typical clinic business hours in order for pet owners to have overnight care options. Owners never knew where they were going to have to take their pet, and the nearest emergency facility was over an hour away. This caused a layer of confu-

October / November 2021

Pet Care Clinic / Ridge Runner Pet Lodging

Animal Emergency Clinic of the High Country sion for pet owners in a moment of crisis. The opening of the Animal Emergency Clinic helped alleviate the confusion by providing a service to pet owners that was not previously available — highly-trained and skilled veterinarians and technicians whose sole responsibility and focus was to provide emergency care for sick and injured pets until their regular veterinarian could take over care at the appropriate time. The practice that started with only one individual, has since grown into an Animal Emergency Clinic, a Pet Care Clinic and a boarding facility, called Ridge Runner Pet

Lodging, that now has a combined staff of close to 50 people. The man behind the practice that has grown exponentially over the years is owner and veterinarian Dr. David W. Linzey. Born to parents who both had biology backgrounds in wildlife ecology, David knew from an early age that he desired to be a veterinarian. “I’ve been around animals my entire life, but we grew up as wild animal type people, so we helped raise orphaned racoons, squirrels and various wild animals,” he recalled. “We always had pets grow-

ing up; we always had dogs. I had always wanted to be a vet since I can remember.” When David was a child, his family moved around quite a bit. He was born in New York, and then they moved to Mobile, Alabama, where David lived until he was 10 years old. From Alabama, his family moved to Blacksburg, Virginia, where David was raised until he graduated high school. David then left to attend NC State University, where he did his undergraduate years and stayed for veterinary school. While at school at NC State, David worked on campus for one of the veterinar-

October / November 2021



Dr. David Linzey holds one of his feline friends that is being seen at the clinic. David and the rest of the staff treat their animal patients as if they were their own pets. “Most everybody who has pets consider them as members of the family, and I know we do,” he said. “We appreciate people taking care of their pets. Every time someone brings their animal into the clinic, it means they are invested in their wellbeing.”

ians, and that is how he met his wife, Debi. “She was a budget clerk in the department that I was working in, so I like to say that she signed my paychecks when we first met,” Linzey said, laughing. David graduated from the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1994. From there, David worked at a mixed-animal facility in Taylorsville for about eight years, where he worked with a variety of animals including horses and cattle as well as cats and dogs. In 2002, he transitioned to working at a small animal practice and dabbled in emergency medicine in the Hickory area. “That’s what led us to moving up the mountain and establishing the Animal Emergency Clinic initially when we moved to Boone,” Linzey explained. “I was from the mountains, and my wife and I had always envisioned moving this direction. We figured it would be more of a retirement sort of thing, but the opportunity presented itself to start the emergency practice because there really wasn’t one in the area.” David recounted how the local clinics in the area back then traded off emergency calls on alternating nights, and they operated out of their own clinics. “It is a pretty large geographic area, so there are clinics everywhere from Foscoe to Ashe County that would share emergency calls, and there wasn’t really a central location or central facility,” he said. “So, people were traveling, and they were going to clinics that weren’t their vet. Vets weren’t staffed overnight, so they couldn’t hospitalize anything legitimately. It was a different time.” Right around that time was when

Doctors at the Pet Care Clinic

Deven King, DVM 34


Chelsey Sturgill, DVM October / November 2021

Lynda Russell, MS, DVM

emergency clinics were starting to emerge. Rock Road where AT&T is now located. Animal Hospital of Boone. David would be At that point, there were only a handful The building took a little longer than ex- available after hours to provide emergency of them in North Carolina, and they were pected to get ready, so the practice wasn’t on-call service until the building for his practice was ready. mostly all in the bigger, urban, more popu- able to open until January of 2006. lation dense areas. “We liked Boone, and this “With Boone being a central was home,” Linzey said. “We area in the High Country rereally got settled in, and I don’t gion, it is the only logical place know if we would have had as to have put the Animal Emermuch success anywhere else. It’s gency Clinic,” Linzey said. “We just a unique area, and I think get people coming from Morthe local veterinarians were very ganton, and they are about an receptive to us moving in and hour and a half away. There are getting started.” other clinics, but they are strateDebi helped David get the gically placed in the area, and it business established. doesn’t make sense to have an “She helped get things runemergency clinic side by side. ning initially when we first got Hickory is the closest one, and started because it was basically then there’s one in Asheville and just me, and we didn’t have a eastern Tennessee. They are all staff until the business grew largIn 2016, David was named the North Carolina Veterinarian of the Year strategically placed around wester,” Linzey said. by the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, which represents ern North Carolina, which is a The initial concept of the Anall veterinarians in the state. “I am truly grateful to have received good thing.” imal Emergency Clinic was that that award in recognition of many years of service and contributions When David and Debi reit would be available when the to the veterinary profession,” Linzey said. located to Boone in 2005 to other local clinics were not. The start the Animal Emergency Clinic, they For the first six months of the practice, hours of operation were from 6 p.m. to worked on getting the initial building con- the Animal Emergency Clinic operated 8 a.m., which made it the first after-hours structed, which was located off of Blowing out of Dr. Howard Johnson’s office at the emergency pet care service in the area.

Doctors at the Animal Emergency Clinic

Morgan Fitch, DVM

Eryn Edman, DVM October / November 2021



Staff prep a canine patient for a common pet procedure. The clinics see a wide variety of dogs and cats that are all sizes with different types of personalities. “Overnight services make sense,” Linzey explained. “People are typically at work all day, and they don’t interact with their pets a lot of times until they get home from work, and then they realize something seems to be wrong.” In the beginning of his practice, David stayed up all night and slept all day. “It was busier than I anticipated when we first got started because I had no idea



what to expect,” he said. “I’m not sure if I knew where the whole business was going, and I assumed that we lived in Boone and would work at night and sleep during the day and that would go on for an indefinite period of time. However, I don’t know if that would have been sustainable for an extended period of time. Luckily, the business got busy, and as it got busier, I realized it wasn’t something that I was able to main-

October / November 2021

tain by myself. The caseload and volume of cases we were seeing on weekends and overnight allowed us to recruit additional doctors. Then, we were able to share shift times, and eventually it just grew.” One of David’s staff members who joined him near the beginning when he was two years into his business is Mandi Johnson, who is the hospital manager. Mandi has been working with David the

The staff at both clinics have remained busy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to a boom in pet adoptions. “The pet population has just exploded locally and nationally,” David said. longest out of all the staff. “What attracted me to working with him was that it was emergency medicine, and I had come from a general practice,” Johnson said. “I was really tired of doing spays and neuters and vaccines over and over again. I had never worked emergency and definitely never stayed up all night before, and so I was like, hey, let’s try this, and I did, and it worked out great!” When reflecting back on her time with the practice, Mandi said it’s been such a great opportunity to work with David. “He is, and I’m not just saying this because it’s him, but he’s a great boss to work for,” she said. “I started out as a registered technician, and the business grew so much. He’s a DVM, and I was a registered

technician, and neither one of us had any clue how to run a business, but he gave me every opportunity to learn how to run the business and every opportunity to run it.” How the Animal Emergency Clinic operated in the beginning is that staff would take in cases at night, and then everything had to be cleared out by the daytime because that’s when the practice closed. “We ended up sending pets home if they were ready to be discharged, or we would transfer cases to a local clinic,” Linzey explained. “A problem that we ran into with a lot of our seasonal residents is that they did not have a local vet in the area that they were established with, and so we were asking them to come pick up their animals and transfer them to a regular



vet who they didn’t know and didn’t have a relationship with. Then the other vets were receiving all these animals who they didn’t know, but they understood at that time — for us to be available after hours, we had to transfer them in the daytime.” The Animal Emergency Clinic and the other local vet clinics had an understanding, and it eventually led into the emergency clinic’s expansion in 2009 to providing 24 hour, seven days a week emergency and critical care. After the increased hours of operation, David and his staff then decided to branch out in 2010 and offer non-emergency services as well, which resulted in the start of the Pet Care Clinic. “When we did start to provide non-

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emergency services, it did introduce an additional provider to the community, and I think everybody was understanding that the area is growing fast enough, and it supports the number of clinics that we have in the area,” Linzey said. “There is a significant pet owning population up here that likes to take care of their pets, and it feels like a priority.” The following year, in 2011, both the Animal Emergency and Pet Care Clinic moved into a custombuilt location off of N.C. 105 to accommodate the growing business. “We started doing the 24/7 emergency care and also doing the non-emergency care out of the same building,” Linzey said. “But we only had four exam rooms. We had people who scheduled appointments and were supposed to come in at certain times, and then there were emergencies coming in, so we had to prioritize things as far as what was most urgent. People with appointments ended up having to wait, and it got to be really messy and difficult to manage.” That’s when David and his staff started looking into expanding into a second building. In 2017, they celebrated the grand opening of a new facility located next-door to the one they were located in on N.C. 105. “This spot is on the map, and everybody knew our original building as the Animal Emergency Clinic, which is why we were having trouble letting people know and advertising the fact that we also offer nonemergency services,” Linzey said. “This is partly why we decided to split up and make a completely different facility. It has different parking, different entrances, different signage, different branding, different everything to let people know because they associated that original building as the Animal Emergency Clinic and not offering anything else.” The new building became the Pet Care Clinic of the High Country, which also houses the canine and feline boarding facility, Ridge Runner Pet Lodging, while the previous building remained the Animal Emergency Clinic. These are the same facilities that are in use currently. “We’ve been able to physically separate both services, and it’s worked out really well,” Linzey said. “The longer we’ve been apart, the more different we realize the practices are. The Animal Emergency Clinic is set up entirely different, and it has different equipment, instrumentation, medications. It’s more suited for emergency care, and then the day practice has really branched into more non-emergency wellness care. That’s been a little interesting to see because you kind of assume it’s all the same, but it’s not.” The Animal Emergency Clinic’s care is unique and specialized, so the facility houses gadgets and technology that is used more in surgical procedures, as veterinarians and technicians tend to see a lot of injuries, infections and cancer cases. On the other hand, the Pet Care Clinic focuses more on wellness and preventative care, so it carries flea and tick and heartworm medications that are used regularly. Veterinarians and technicians handle nonemergency treatments such as dentals, spay and neu38


October / November 2021

David is happy with his practice and staff and would just like for them to continue what they are doing.

The staff are always working together and training their colleagues, as everyone is on different levels of experience.

The staff prides themselves on the advanced technology that is available which has changed how they can care for animals better.



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October / November 2021



ters and vaccinations. “The general practice is equally, if not more, important to the emergency practice as far as making sure animals are coming in for their annual exams and that they are fully vaccinated,” Linzey said. “All the preventable infections and diseases that we vaccinate for and prevent pets from getting is more important than not doing it and then them getting sick and having to be seen at the Animal Emergency Clinic.” David realizes not all pets get yearly check-ups, but the benefit of doing so helps monitor pets as they age and get older. “It certainly makes it easier to stay on top of things,” Linzey said. “Oftentimes, picking up on disease processes and things that might be going on much earlier in the process by blood work detection or x-rays makes it easier to treat things and makes the prognosis that much better. We can catch it earlier; it’s the same thing with people.” A lot of the diseases that animals are diagnosed with are identical to ones humans can get such as diabetes, cataracts, cancers, infections and more. With the same diseases, veterinarians often use similar technology doctors use at hospitals to treat patients. “The technology we use is very similar to when people go to Watauga Medical Center and have procedures done,” Linzey explained. “I am often surprised that we do a more thorough workup preoperatively with blood work than they even do for humans now. And the anesthesia monitoring is at least as good, if not better, on our end. But you have to understand that our patients don’t talk to us, and we don’t know everything that’s going on. They sometimes may have some other things that are going on that we are not aware of that makes anesthesia monitoring and complications a little more difficult. Doctors and physicians have a better handle on what they’re dealing with going into various procedures, but the similarities are striking.” Veterinarians use equipment that is adapted for animals, but the technology itself is the same. A lot of companies that manufacture equipment for the human medical field also make it for the animal medical field. The same goes for a lot of medications, too. “People always complain about how much veterinarian care costs, but then I look at bills that people are billed for when they have medical procedures of 40


Built in 2017, the Pet Care Clinic’s building is about 6,440 square feet in size, and it also houses Ridge Runner Pet Lodging. “We wanted something unique,” David said. The building has a striking mountain modern lodge look to match the Emergency Clinic and fit in the community.

The general contractor, Enterline & Russell, and architects from Appalachian Architecture had to overcome the challenges of the steep terrain, creek and floodplain when designing the Animal Emergency Clinic. “I didn’t even know it was going to be possible to build a building on the property, but luckily it ended up working out great,” Linzey said.

With features like the inlaid paw prints, the architecture is specialized for the clinic. David said they’ve won some community awards for the design.

October / November 2021

their own, and I’m like, ‘Whoa, that was a deal on a dog,’ because we basically did the same procedure, and the cost is significantly less than when you compare it to what people have done in human settings,” Linzey said. The cost of veterinarian care has increased over time, and David believes it will continue to increase. “I think the cost of veterinary care for a lot of people has exceeded their ability to pay for it, and I am troubled by that,” he said. “I would hate to think that somebody couldn’t get their pet taken care of purely because they couldn’t afford it, but we offer a pretty high level of care we think at both of our practices.” To maintain the high level of care, David is always eager to integrate newer advanced technology into the practices. “Dr. Linzey is very good at his job,” said Dr. Eryn Edman, who is the medical director of the Animal Emergency Clinic. “He’s very caring toward all the animals, but he’s also very caring toward the staff, and he does that by listening to us. Whenever one of us doctors wants to look into getting new equipment or trying something different, he’s always open to ideas and supportive of change.” Eryn has been working for David for six years, and she has been able to see how the clinic’s ability to diagnose and treat animals has increased dramatically over the years. “Our general practice is what I like to consider state of the art,” Linzey said. “We do have a lot of equipment, and we do have very skilled doctors, and unfortunately, there is a cost associated with that.” However, to help with costs on the wellness side, people can pick and choose what they would like to do and what level of care they want, meaning they can decline certain services if they decide to. “The emergency end of things is slightly different, and we are constantly dealing with people who are in stressful, unexpected situations and are oftentimes dealing with serious problems that require a lot of care to stabilize, if not to fix,” Linzey said. “I think people realize that all emergency clinics are typically associated with higher costs, and that’s why people don’t want to go there or they are going to avoid it if they can because they think it’s cheaper to go to their regular veterinarian, and it may be in some circumstances.” The reason for the high costs of the Animal Emergency Clinic, David said, is that the cost of operating a 24 hours, seven days a week and 365 days a year clinic is exorbitant. “Just keeping it staffed is basically two to three times what a normal day clinic

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Some of the Staff Member Serving the Clinics

Nicole Staub

Natalie Holguin

Marie Zielaskowski, RVT

Amanda Carr

Haley Sumner

Jessie Thomas

Katie Credle

Caitlin Wilson

Kathryn Kelly

Morgan Pyatte

Cheyenne Hayler

Kelly Allen, RVT

Mandi Johnson, CVPM, RVT

Peggy Boone

Dana Decker

would be when they are only open during regular daytime business hours,” he said. “Not to mention all the things we have to have in the building in order to provide that level of care. We like to tell people that we see anything and any sort of emergency. It might not be something we can potentially repair. For example, if we have a dog with a shattered leg, that’s not our area of expertise, but we will stabilize him to the point where we can get them to a referral facility and then to Winston Salem or Charlotte where that can be done if the owners are going to pursue that to that level. So, we can admit and evaluate everything that comes in and either fix it, if we are able to do that, or stabilize it or in some cases, euthanize it 42


October / November 2021

if that’s the best thing for the pet, or get them prepared to transfer to another level facility if that’s what’s needed to be done. But there is also a cost associated with that, too, and that’s a constant thing.” Another option that is available that helps with costs is pet insurance, which enables owners to authorize or allow for more testing, diagnostics and treatments that they may not have been able to get done before when insurance wasn’t available. There is still a small percentage of pet owners who have pet insurance, but it is available and can help. “There are various types of people who live in our area and have different financial limitations, so there is the challenge of trying to figure out what is going to help them the most and what is the best for them,” Linzey said. “Owners have to pick what option they are most comfortable with, but they need to know that maybe the least expensive option may not be the best option and may require ongoing care if what we’re doing is not helping.” These types of scenarios lead to tough decisions that have to be made, especially in the Animal Emergency Clinic. “We do have people who come in and have no money whatsoever, not even enough for the office visit, which is what we usually use to evaluate the pet,” Linzey described. “We have to try to figure out what is going on, and then we have to decide what is going to be best. Maybe that’s euthanasia, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a lot of situations if it’s in the best interest of the pet. We just have to inform and educate the owners that it may not even be a money situation. A pet may be so badly injured that no money in the world is going to fix it, and the best solution may be to think about helping them along. We do a lot of euthanasia in the Animal Emergency Clinic just because of the nature of the cases that we see. It’s an option, and in a lot of situations, it is one we need to think about utilizing. Unfortunately, it’s one that owners don’t want to do, but a lot of times, it’s the best thing for the pet. We have

to keep in mind what the best thing for a pet is and not what’s best for us or the owners.” High levels of stress can be found often among the staff and pet owners. “It’s a difficult job,” Linzey said. “It takes its toll on the staff, but they also recognize it’s part of the deal, and we provide a service. It’s definitely a calling, especially to go through the efforts of eight-plus years of schooling and training you have to do to become a veterinarian. There’s a lot of programs that our staff have been through or are going through to become licensed. It’s a career path. A lot of students worked here to accumulate some experience in order to move into one of those roles. Everybody has to be invested in it to do that. It’s a certain type of person who is more gifted to do this line of work, but they enjoy it.” Dr. Morgan Fitch is one of the associate veterinarians that works at the Animal Emergency Clinic. She started with the practice in 2013 working as a receptionist and technician while being an undergraduate student enrolled at Appalachian State University. “I knew I wanted to go to vet school, which is why I wanted to get a job here,” Fitch explained. “The doctors here were so helpful in my training. They would go through blood work results with me, and they would explain why they did things rather than just telling me what to do.” When Morgan applied to vet school, David wrote her a letter of recommendation and bought her a stethoscope as a congratulations present when she got accepted. Morgan is also a graduate of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and following graduation, she moved to the pacific northwest and worked as an urgent care hospital before returning home to the High Country. “It’s sort of surreal being back here as a doctor; it’s really, really nice.” Fitch said. “It’s so special to be able to come back here and work here as a doctor in the place that played such a huge role in my training. I can tell that because of the

training that I got here, I was ahead of my classmates in some aspects, just because I had that clinical experience, especially when we got to more of the hands-on portion of things.” Morgan has been back at the Animal Emergency Clinic since May 2021. “I remember when I texted Dr. Linzey and asked if he still had a position open and he was like, ‘Absolutely! Come on back,’” Fitch recalled. Having known and worked with David for a long time, Morgan has seen firsthand how David has cared for his staff, but most importantly, the local community. “It just impresses me how people in this community think so highly of him,” Fitch said. “I had a client who came in and said she has been seeing him since he was a veterinarian in Hickory. Then when he opened the clinic across from where Cook Out is, she saw him there, and then when we moved buildings, she continued to see him. It’s been his entire career, and she’s been following him.” And it’s not just the one client, as Morgan said David has a big following. “There’s so many people that come in here, and they say they want to speak with Dr. Linzey,” she said. “They just hold this

Ridge Runner Pet Lodging has 28 separated rooms for dogs, and cats have their own space too. This service is for clients who want to use a pet daycare while they are at work or on vacation. place in such high regard because of the quality of care and the client communication and how much he really cares about his clients and their pets. I think all veterinarians care about their patients, but it is really special to find someone who cares just as equally about the owners. We all love animals, and a lot of people say they

got into veterinary medicine because they don’t like to deal with people, but that’s a big part of the job. These pets are their family, and I think that’s a really special thing to find somebody who cares just as much about the owners as they do about the pets, and that’s David. He has such a wonderful personality.” t


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Growing THE

Pedalin’ Pig BBQ EMPIRE Business Owner

Ethan Anderson Expands Food Offerings Across Ethan Anderson at the Boone Location


Story by Nathan Ham and Photography by Ken Ketchie

than Anderson knows the ins and outs of owning and operating restaurants more than most folks you would probably ever meet around the High Country. Anderson, who is the owner of both Pedalin’ Pig locations in Banner Elk and Boone, recently completed the purchase of Woodlands Barbeque and the building where Canyon’s used to be just off of Highway 321 in Blowing Rock. Woodlands has been an iconic fixture in Blowing Rock for over 40 years since first started by Butch Triplett and Jim Houston. Being able to add that location to his growing list of restaurants was important for Ethan. “Butch, Gina (Triplett) and Jim have been doing amazing things here for so long that we knew we would never be the number one barbeque place in the area because they had a hold on it for 43 years. When you go around here and say barbeque, people say Woodlands,” he said. “To work with them has been a 44


the High Country

October / November 2021

pleasure because they knew they were ready to retire, and anyone who wants to retire definitely doesn’t want to sell their baby, and they don’t want their baby to go away. So, we knew by buying and bringing that into the Pedalin’ Pig family, we would allow for their baby to keep growing. We could make it bigger; we could make it better; we could make it more efficient; we could control more catering. We could do a lot more when it came to branding ourselves through all the areas of the High Country.” Honoring the history of Woodlands is something that will be one of the top priorities for the restaurant as it moves forward into the future under new ownership. “You don’t go buy McDonald’s and fire Ronald McDonald. You don’t go buy Disney World and get rid of Mickey Mouse. So, we are definitely keeping Woodlands in the name because it’s historical here,” Ethan said. “It’s like Daniel Boone Inn or Tweetsie or Sugar Mountain. We wanted to keep it in the name by blend-

Ethan Anderson at Woodlands

ing what the Pedalin’ Pig does well and what Woodlands does well. So, we are going to call it Pedalin’ Pig at Woodlands to honor that and to make sure when people pull up here that what they have loved for 40-something years they will continue to enjoy again and again. It’ll be a new blend of the two, and we just hope we can keep up with the legacy of what Woodlands is. We’ve had a lot of people give their local input. We’re going to blend what works the best and make sure we have what the customers have loved in the past and also what we can bring to make them love it in the future.”

and enrolled at Appalachian State University in 1986. Anderson finished school and got a bachelor’s degree in psychology and outdoor education in 1990. He then decided he enjoyed the mountain life but wanted to experience it in a different location. Anderson moved to Colorado and lived there for three years, which was dur-

ing a time where he said he got to ski a lot but broke plenty of bones along the way. After the brief stint out west, Ethan came back to Georgia, and that’s where his career in restaurants started to blossom. “I moved to Athens, Georgia in 1994 and met some friends of mine that went to the University of Georgia at the time. We Ethan Anderson at the Banner Elk Location

Ethan’s Story: How It All Started

Ethan Anderson was used to city life from being born in Charlotte to growing up in Atlanta. Once he graduated high school, most of his friends chose to attend universities in Georgia. Ethan, however, decided to come to Boone alongside one of his friends October / November 2021



decided to set up a pizza restaurant in a little town called Madison,” he said. Ethan partnered with two of his friends, and the pizza business was good to the trio of friends for a year. However, tragedy struck when one of his business partners was killed in an automobile accident. Anderson sold his remaining half of the business to the other partner and decided to come back to Boone in 1995. That’s when Boone Takeout Express famously began. “I came up with the idea of starting a multiple restaurant delivery service. It was pre-internet; all you had at the time was pizza and Chinese deliveries. I decided I wanted to deliver for everybody. I went to all my friends and restaurant owners I knew and worked for in college like Jack Pepper and Murray Broome at The Peddler,” Ethan said. “I would call the restaurants at the time and fax in the orders. It was so archaic,it was really funny. I started out with nine restaurants on the first day, and it grew to about 27 restaurants.” Ethan remembers when he first started, he was delivering orders while riding his mountain bike, a passion that he still enjoys to this day. Soon enough, he had some friends that wanted to make some extra money and had cars in Boone so they started delivering for him. “We would work with different restaurant owners and see if they wanted to work with us in the delivery business. I started to develop and hire delivery drivers who were going through college as computer programmers and website developers. They would help me refine the point of sales systems and services to make the restaurant delivery business smooth and not have any hiccups,” he said. “We had a $2 delivery fee on top of food and tax, so that spawned the whole idea of multiple restaurant delivery businesses.” Once Anderson started piling up the restaurants that wanted to use his services, he said he came to the office of the Mountain Times to try and figure out the best way to provide menus to customers. Putting together pieces of paper and stapling them was quickly replaced by making foldable dining guides and menus for restaurants, a pretty neat accomplishment well before the days of the internet. Once the internet came into existence, Boone Takeout adapted pretty quickly and started to offer online ordering, online menus and websites for various restaurants. Finding quality employees has always been important to Anderson with any 46


Ethan Anderson operated Boone Takeout for nearly 15 years (top), where he met Casey Pond who has been best friends with Ethan (bottom left). Ethan’s first restaurant adventure was with some friends establishing the Amici Italian Café in Madison, GA (bottom right). business he has operated. Even with hiring college students at Boone Takeout, Ethan was quick to look at the good qualities each employee has to offer and listen to their suggestions about the business. “I work hard, but as my dad said, always hire smarter than yourself. I was always driven about being self-employed. My dad worked for ‘Corporate America’ at IBM forever. So when I came back to Boone, it’s a very independent, selfmotivated place. You either make it or you leave because there’s nothing here for you. I grew up in the restaurant industry, so it was one of those ideas that sounded good,” he said. “I always looked internally for better ideas from my staff to improve what we were doing. It helped us understand that we can make ourselves more productive, a little smarter, stronger

October / November 2021

and more efficient.” By being able to offer a successful delivery service for Boone restaurants, Boone Takeout provided the local eateries with a larger customer base and gave people more variety of food options to get dropped off at their doorstep. “Restaurants didn’t have to insure drivers. They didn’t have to deal with the headaches of one day having only a couple of deliveries and the next day having 20 deliveries. A lot of restaurants realized they could outsource it to us. We marketed it for them, we paid for yellow pages ads. We put menus in dorms and hotel lobbies and everywhere we could,” Ethan said. “That really did make the restaurants a lot more profitable. I only lost one restaurant in all of my years, and I voluntarily got rid of them. They

LEFT PHOTO - A helicopter had to take Ethan and his friends to the top of this mountain in Squamish before hitting the mountain trails. RIGHT PHOTO - Ethan is pictured here carrying his bike over a ravine outside of the town of Squamish, Canada. He had seen this location before in a photo and wanted to find it himself on one of his many mountain biking expeditions across North America. Photos by Brad Walton. wouldn’t give eating utensils and they wouldn’t give an extra dressing for a salad for a lady at the hospital. At that point, we realized it was a benefit to 99.9% of the restaurants. They were very appreciative because it was a way for them to make money. No one at the time realized that if your wife wanted Chinese and you

wanted Mexican, we could go to two restaurants. Then it blossomed to picking up flowers or beer and wine at Peabody’s. It made us a little more accessible to people and made it a lot easier to get more than pizza and Chinese.” Ethan said that sometimes they would be so busy they would have 12 drivers

Ethan on his bike in Charlotte in what he called his “days of trying to be Evil Knievel.” He was trying to jump over things in the road even as a small child.

working each shift and would end up with nearly 200 deliveries in a single day. Anderson operated Boone Takeout for about 15 years. The popularity of the business kept growing and eventually, Ethan decided it was time to do something else. “It started to grow faster than we expected, and drivers that worked for

In 2007, Ethan was part of a five member bike team shown here after winning a 24 hour race in North Wilkesboro. This team help inspire the restaurant name Pedalin’ Pig - which is a term for peddling heavy mountain bikes through the woods. October / November 2021






Fall in love...

The Pedalin’ Pig in Banner Elk was the original location that opened in May 2014. The restaurant seats about 200 people including the deck area and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. serving lunch and dinner.

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us before who moved back home would then call and ask to show them how to do it down there. We would travel across states to show people how to do it. I went to Chapel Hill, Bozeman, Montana and Bend, Oregon. Other places where friends had moved to, they heard I was doing it, and they called wanting to consult with me to set up delivery companies in different cities. I did not own those, it was all consulting fees. I didn’t realize at the time that it would have been smart to franchise. I didn’t understand what franchising was, I thought it was much more difficult,” Ethan said. “Then one of my workers convinced me to sell. A lot of people tried to, but I was finally at a point where I was like, ‘I’m ready to sell. I’m ready to do something different.’ One of my delivery drivers came to me with some family money he received. His father had passed, so he asked if he could buy it.” Anderson sold Boone Takeout around 2004, and the business continued to grow exponentially. The owner expanded into other areas like Columbia and Greenville in South Carolina and eventually sold the

October / November 2021

business to Bitesquad for over $1 million at each location.

From Real Estate Back into the Restaurant Business

Following the sale of Boone Takeout, Anderson started working in the real estate business. While he was buying and selling houses, he also kept his eye out for another opportunity to get back into the local restaurant scene. That chance came about when he and a partner purchased Sunrise Grill on Highway 105. While co-owning the restaurant, Ethan kept working in the real estate industry for a while and even added another new business interest to his growing portfolio. “We started building houses out of shipping containers. That’s another business I started to dabble into,” he said. “ We didn’t just do real estate. We were in a restaurant business at the time, and then I started to invest and diverge and merge into other businesses and other ideas. I’m not scared. If I have an idea, I want to make sure I can run it to fruition, and we did that. I refuse to fail, so I will work

double time, triple time, quadruple time to make sure everyone is happy and that the businesses are successful.” Anderson did eventually move on from real estate in 2008, right before the housing market bubble burst. “We were very lucky to be out of that,” he recalled. After exiting real estate, Ethan said this was the first time he wasn’t completely self-employed. “I got hired by a company out of Asheville to run a construction company, and we were building rope courses, challenge courses, zip lines and obstacle courses for the military. So for three years, I worked for someone that was going to pay me. I wasn’t the owner, but I was the boss, and I ran that for three years,” he said. He remained part-owner of Sunrise Grill until selling that in 2010 to current owner Ian Hunter. “Ian called me up and said, ‘Hey we would like to buy you out,’ and I told him the asking price, and they took it over and did great things with it. They had a good vision, so they bought us out of Sunrise, and it allowed me to not have to worry about employing people at that time,” Ethan said.


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The Pedalin’ Pig Begins

Anderson was not out of the restaurant business for very long when he purchased a barbecue restaurant in Banner Elk. This would end up becoming his first Pedalin’ Pig location. “A couple of years later I bought back into the restaurant business just because I wanted to eat for free,” Ethan joked. “At the time it was called Frontier Barbeque. It was a great location in Banner Elk, and it allowed me to get into the barbecue restaurant business. I hired an amazing chef and people at the time who really knew the cooking and management inside it, so we had a great team together, and they had good recipes. Banner Elk went well for years, and then two years later, the opportunity to have a location in Boone opened up.” Choosing the name Pedalin’ Pig came from mixing one of Ethan’s favorite hobbies of mountain biking with the obvious barbecue-themed restaurant. “We used to ride really heavy bikes we called pigs at the time because hogs are for Harleys, so we used to joke and say we used to pedal pigs in the woods. I had a license plate for a decade-plus that was PDLN PIGS and everyone was like, ‘What does that mean?’ and I was like,

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The Pedalin’ Pig in Boone is the second location, and it opened in October 2016. The restaurant seats about 215 people including the deck space and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. serving a very similar menu to the Banner Elk location. ‘It’s pedalin’ pigs.’ So, when I decided to ways going to have differences and tough just kept growing and growing.” Once the Woodlands location became name it the Pedalin’ Pig, it just clicked. days, but Ethan has never done anybody It had a double meaning, and it defined wrong. Even with employees that have available, it was another no-brainer to expand to another town in the area. who I was,” Anderson said. “It went re- disagreements, he’s a respectful guy.” “I wanted to be in all three ‘B towns’ The Boone location on Highway 105 ally well, and it really fit what I was doing. It blended well with a good designer was the former home of Mr. Original so getting Blowing Rock was the last step who came up with a good logo for us and Gyros. When that spot became available, to what I needed to deal with barbecue in a good look, so we were happy with that.” Ethan jumped at the opportunity to have the High Country,” Ethan said. So far, about 85% of the Woodlands Blake Bostain, who currently man- a second Pedalin’ Pig location. “The location was a far enough dis- staff has stayed on to be a part of the ages the Banner Elk location, has known new Pedalin’ Pig era in Blowing Ethan for about eight years and Rock according to Bostain. started working at the Pedalin’ “As we are going through Pig about two months after it these changes, even with Woodfirst opened in 2014. He has lands — something with such worked at numerous restaua heritage that has been there rants throughout his career. for so long, Ethan has been re“There are different kinds ally smart about it. He’s not just of owners out there. Ethan is a coming in saying it’s our way hands-on guy. When the owner or the highway. He is trying to comes in to wash dishes on a find the best product for all of busy day, everybody gets to see Blake Bostain, manager the Banner Elk location the stores. Right now, they are it,” Bostain said. “He is one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever met. tance from the Banner Elk store that it still operating with their recipes, and we He wakes up at 6 in the morning and wasn’t going to draw away from the Ban- are slowly showing them some of our stuff. doesn’t go to bed until 10 or 11 every day, ner Elk crowd, and people were enjoying He is approaching it in a very smart and it’s pretty impressive. I’ll never have that the quality of food that we were produc- responsible way. We’re all here to be profing,” Ethan said. “When I went to Boone, itable and grow the business,” Blake said. kind of energy.” Preston Dishman, a Watauga County Bostain has always appreciated An- I can’t say it was an instant success, but it derson’s hands-on approach with the went off really well because people knew native, met Ethan about seven months employees there. “He has such a good re- the name, and they liked the quality. Reg- ago and will be managing the operalationship with each employee. You’re al- ulars started coming in, and from that, it tions at the newest Pedalin’ Pig location.

“There are different kinds of owners out there. Ethan is a hands-on guy. When the owner comes in to wash dishes on a busy day, everybody gets to see it.”



October / November 2021

Ethan Anderson completed the purchase of Woodlands Barbeque on August 12, 2021. The restaurant can seat around 160 people, and the menu is a blend of Woodlands and Pedalin’ Pig specialties. Woodlands is currently open five days a week, with plans to be open every day soon. He has had over 30 years of experience working in the restaurant industry. Most recently, he had been working in California but is happy to be back in the High Country and working with Ethan and the rest of the staff members. “Our skill sets complement each other. We are now the caretakers of a piece of culinary history. Our relationship is great. We agree on the big things like taking care of the employees and taking care of the guests and taking care of the community as much as you can,” Dishman said. “It’s such a tremendous business. It’s great to see the staff energized; almost everybody stayed. We’re listening to employees and hear their thoughts on the restaurant.”

Another New Addition to the Restaurant Family

The Woodlands property was not the only restaurant that Anderson decided to open in Blowing Rock. He has chosen to take on the challenge of reopening the former Canyon’s restaurant and naming it Wheelie’s Refresher. “We knew that location was prime because of the view. It has a lot of parking. It has great access, and I went in and leased that out. I didn’t get to buy it, but I leased it out for a long time into the future until hopefully when I retire,” Ethan said. “Wheelie’s Refresher will be a burger restaurant. We will have gourmet burgers, chicken sandwiches, tacos,

salads, bar foods and a lot of draft beers and wine. We are going to open the deck again. We can’t expand the footprint of the deck, and we can’t make it larger due to the town requirements, but we’re just refreshing it because that building has seen its time. We’ve remodeled the whole thing and torn it down to the studs and now just making it clean and fresh.” There will be a new bar inside Wheelie’s with a brand new 12-tap system, as well as more open space to go along with the outstanding view. “We have put some substantial funds in to make sure the flooring was great. The electrical and HVAC have been redone, and the landlords bared the brunt of a lot of it. We have a great relationship with the Bernhardt’s. The big thing is finding subcontractors to get all the work done,” Preston said. Both Wheelie’s Refresher and the Pedalin’ Pig at Woodlands will soon be offering live music to continue another popular Blowing Rock tradition of musicians playing to local, intimate crowds at different restaurants over the year. Wheelie’s Refresher will be opening this fall.

Working as a Family

Ethan takes a lot of pride in maintaining a high-quality staff and work environment, dating back to the earliest days of Boone Takeout Express. “We do believe we have a very low

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October / November 2021



Wheelie’s Refresher is Ethan’s newest restaurant, which is scheduled to open on October 15, 2021. The building can seat around 200 people in total and will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Guests can take in the breathtaking views over the Globe Valley from the deck. On the far right is Grandfather Mountain and moving left you will see Hawksbill and Table Rock Mountains on the eastern side of Linville Gorge. As the crow flies it’s about 35 miles to those sights, but it also seems you can also see forever. From here you can definitely see why it’s call the Blue Ridge Mountains. turnover rate. We treat our staff well. We selves. He can talk about it and we both working and so when the plan works, treat them like family, so we don’t have try to remove ourselves and not get in the stick with it,” he said. Anderson, who is the oldest of four the turnover rate a lot of restaurants may way of progress,” Dishman said. Ethan attributes his desire to succeed siblings, is also engaged to be married to see, but our goal is to make sure we have places for people to go,” he said. “I never and his never-quit attitude to a work Watauga County native Bethany Campthought I would be the owner of numer- ethic instilled in him by his parents early bell on June 11, 2022, on Beech Mountain. She has been helping Ethan out with ous restaurants in the area, but I also be- on in life. the new restaurants and offering her suglieve in doing what you love to do. It fits gestions as well. my personality. I’m a talker. I’m a people “She’s been creative with Wheelie’s person. I like making sure people are hapand she has been really driving me with py and well-fed. I like to think I’m a good Woodlands. I like her vision and what restaurant owner because I’m good to my she’s doing and her ideas, so I take it as staff. That makes my day helping people 100% encouragement, and we blend our grow in what they’re doing, growing thoughts well. We make a great team,” work relationships, and helping people Ethan said. survive and maintain a family or pay for Ethan said that while expansion in the their things in life. It’s satisfying. It’s refuture will always remain a possibility, fowarding to me to make sure that I’ve got Ethan Anderson cusing on the current restaurants that are a good staff, and they can rely on me, and “My mom and dad are both hard open will be his main goal over the next I can rely on them. I don’t mind bussing tables, washing dishes. I’m above not one workers, and they seem to be pretty six months. “All I want to do is get these restauproud. I’m very determined and I’m very single task in this business.” Preston echoed Ethan’s thoughts on hard-headed, but at 53, I think things rants working really well and make sure making sure that the staff at each of the are finally falling into place. There was we do the best for the community and restaurants are appreciated and taken never a master plan, but the plan has been for my staff and focusing on making sure all my workers are really care of. happy. With happy work“We both are very confiers comes happy customdent, but we do things very ers and happy customers frugally and very thoughtturn into repeat business,” fully. We try to minimize risk he said. “In the future, I’ll and maximize opportunity. do stuff off the mountain. We had 100-plus employees I have friends who want three months ago, we’ve got me to do stuff in Hickory 150 now, and we’ll have 200and Morganton, so we’ll plus soon. That’s 200 families just look for the next area, that we have to make sure their but I’m not in a rush to go bills are being met and they’re anywhere right now. We’ll being fed and that they have wait for the next opporsustained income while also tunity. If my workers are growing the company. He is happy, I’m happy. If my committed to that and so am I. customers are happy, I’m A lot of people can talk about Ethan stands in front of the million dollar view that can be seen from his house, happy. So right now all I doing things and then get in where he moved to about 2.5 years ago. Resting on the ridgeline is Echota on the can do is smile.” t the way of doing that themright with Grandfather Mountain on the left. Seven Devils in the middle of the view.

“There was never a master plan, but the plan has been working and so when the plan works, stick with it.”



October / November 2021


See forever.


Hand in hand is a wonderful way to share the awe and delights that await you at Grandfather Mountain. Share the joy today and help us preserve it for tomorrow. B o o k t o d a y a t w w w. g r a n d f a t h/ eNovember r. c o m2021 October



Now dealing with dementia, Leniavell Trivette, at 81, is living her life out on “the Old Beech,” where it all began.

Coming Full Circle With

Leniavell Trivette

The 54

hills have back to Old Beech H I Gof H home COUN T R Ycalled M A GLeniavell A Z I N E Trivette October / November 2021 Mountain. This is the view Leniavell grew up with, and now is the view she sees today.

Leniavell has always possessed a quiet kind of pride in her heritage and the skills learned at her mother’s side that took them to greater heights than ever imagined.

“Leniavell, as an artist, is the living representative of one of the most important documented traditions found within the state.” By Sherrie Norris


t the age of 81, after traveling extensively and loving with her niece and namesake, Lena Trivette. While there, she life to the full, the highly acclaimed artisan Leniavell even appeared in a Marcus King Band video. A lot has changed for Leniavell in recent years, as she deals Trivette has come full circle, spending her days where it with the dreaded mind-altering diagnosis of dementia. But, all began —on “the Old Beech.” Leniavell has shared with us bits and pieces of her life thanks to Lena’s loving care, she’s back on Beech, just steps from her childhood home, through the years, treasured surrounded by her beloved stories they are that we never unique artisan representing a living tradition mountains on which she tire of hearing. amongst North Carolina’s fiber artists, toiled and roamed in her Leniavell grew up the Leniavell’s skills are drawn from a lifetime of younger days. second of six children and study at the knees of a master craftswoman, her And, sometimes those today is one of only two who survive. She’s back on the mother Elsie Trivette. As a state’s history museum, memories return — and she breaks out into a big smile. home-place, far and away we must strive to collect the stories along with Leniavell has always posfrom the city lights and life the objects in order to place the object within the sessed a quiet kind of pride she enjoyed while traveling proper context in which it was made.... Leniavell, in her heritage and the skills on tour buses, pulling her as an artist, is the living representative of one of learned at her mother’s camper trailer with her ’69 Camaro to music and craft the most important documented traditions found side that took them both to greater heights than ever festivals and fairs, and most within the state.” imagined. recently, loving life in Nash- Patricia Marshall, former Curator of Decorative Arts, N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh As children, Leniavell ville, where she spent time


October / November 2021



For many years, Leniavell Trivette appeared at fairs and festivals all over the country as a well-known and respected crafter. and her siblings were all expected to work hard, but she and her two sisters especially enjoyed countless hours helping their mother, Elsie Harmon Trivette, a 1994 NC Folk Heritage Award recipient, make beautiful rugs from burlap sacks. “We used the burlap for the back of the rugs and unraveled the discarded feed sacks to get the yarn,” Leniavell told us. “Mom made her rugs in different colors, dying them with walnut hulls, onion hulls or goldenrod, and drew her own patterns — cross designs, diamonds, flowers, leaves and log cabins. She gave us kids each five cents to unravel the long strands of burlap.” The rugs first sold for 50 cents each “over in Blowing Rock and at Linville where tourists stayed at that hotel,” she said. “Someone would take Mom and some of the other women around here who hooked rugs over to Linville where they’d spread their rugs out on the ground for the rich people to see.” 56


October / November 2021

As a child Leniavell Trivette learned her unique craft by spending countless hours at the side of her mother, Elsie Harmon Trivette, a 1994 NC Folk Heritage Award recipient, who made beautiful rugs from burlap sacks. 1958 and started working at the Newland One day, a woman from Illinois, Jessie five or six hair bows in it.” Following the death of her father, and Knitting Mill that next Monday morning. Hunt, bought all the rugs her Mom had She and her mother eventually moved — and asked her to make more for her after her grown siblings left home, Leniato Zionville, where they focused their efvell stayed with her mother. gift shop. forts on their handwork. Encour“Mom was more than happy aged to take their work to craft to do that. She worked on them shows, they were easily received at night, after the chores were among fellow crafters. done, even though we didn’t have Her mother’s death in 2000 left electricity. I remember her worka painful void in Leniavell’s life, ing by oil lamp, her rugs set up in but she was determined to carry on the living room on straight-back and flourished as a crafter in her chairs. She sent the rugs to the own right. lady, who in turn, sent her packages of clothes, household items Award Winning and cloth from which mom made us clothes. If Mom could not wear Artist Evolves the clothes, she sold or traded Highly sought after as a demthem for burlap. Dad often had to onstrator, her weaving, quilting, take the horse and sled to haul the hand-tied lace and a colonial knotAs the only crafters from North Carolina invited to attend, lady’s packages from the post ofting technique used to decorate Leniavell Trivette, her mother, Elsie, and sister, fice. My sister, Evanell Jessie, was June, were recognized at the Smithsonian bedspreads and pillows were just Festival of American Folklife in 1994. named after that lady. One day, a few of her specialties. Her stoEvanell told Mom that she hoped rybook dolls, sock monkeys and She graduated from Cranberry High sunbonnets attracted a growing fan base, Jessie would send her a big hair bow. The very next day, a package came with School in Avery County on a Friday in as did her carding sheep’s wool, spinning October / November 2021



Standing out in front of the house she grew up in. life wasn’t always easy on Old Beech Mountain for Leniavell Trivette and her siblings. She graduated from Cranberry High School on a Friday in 1958 and started work at the Newland Knitting Mill the following Monday. and hooking rugs, “on an old fashioned spinning wheel.” For many years, Leniavell presented at workshops, retreats, schools, fairs, festivals and trade shows. From county fairs to the state and world’s fairs, from local museums to the Smithsonian, her work has been admired by many. From 1982 until her health no longer allowed, Leniavell exhibited at the NC State Fair’s Village of Yesteryear, where she was voted Craftswoman of the Year in 2000. She became an affiliate member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild in 2004, reflecting the highest level of

achievement and perpetuation of folk art in the region. She also loved working at the Traditional Crafts tent at Merlefest, which she did for over 20 years. In 2008, one of her quilts was hung in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh; two have claimed a place of distinction in the Cratis D. Williams Graduate School and Belk Library at Appalachian State University. Leniavell was recognized at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife and its offshoot, the North Carolina Folk Festival. She, her mother, and sister, June, were featured at the Smithsonian event

in 1994, the only NC crafters invited to participate. That particular event drew in approximately 1.5 million people, which was “a big crowd” for the Watauga County natives, she shared. Leniavell worked for a local craft coop for 19 years, during which she traveled a lot to help promote and sell crafts of other local and regional artists. In 2012, she was named a Woman of the Year by All About Women magazine and recognized during the women’s expo. Her vast collection of blue ribbons and commendations won in various competitions were humbly accepted; she always

Pictured by one of several sports cars she owned in her lifetime, Leniavell visits with Matt Kinman (in overalls), one of the original members of Old Crow Medicine Show who also started “The Backroads of America” documentary. Members of the film crew from Hollywood are also pictured, including project photographer, Gary Hamilton, along with Ben Guzman, far left. At right, Leniavell is pictured at the NC State Fair with the book she wrote about life and family, soon after it was released. 58


October / November 2021

gave credit to her “upbringing” and especially, to her mother and grandmother. “Mom never realized the value of her work. She gave a lot of it away to anyone who said they liked it.” Dyeing fibers with natural materials like walnuts, barks and berries, to tomato vines and rusty nails, are just a few of the “old-timey” inherited techniques she learned. In the late ‘80s, Trivette and her mother “rubbed elbows,” with a couple of celebrities in the area while filming “The Winter People.” Kurt Russell inquired among the local people of someone who could teach Goldie Hawn to use a spinning wheel he had purchased for her; he was directed to Leniavell’s mother. Today, Leniavell still treasures the framed photograph she has of her mother and the actress together. Leniavell, Elsie and their family also developed a close relationship with members of the Old Crow Medicine Show, who lived nearby and spent time with them through the years, sharing Sunday dinners at home and fun times at the festivals and on King Street in Boone, where

One of her favorite black and white photos shows Leniavell taking a break at one of the many craft shows she attended as a demonstrator of traditional mountain arts and crafts. they got started.

Growing up on “the Old Beech” Leniavell

grew up near the Avery-

Watauga County line on “the old Beech” in a small white house with her parents, Judson Trivette and Elsie Harmon Trivette. She was the second child, following her sister Evanell, and before her

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A highlight of Leniavell’s life was traveling to music festivals and meeting some of her favorite musicians, including Bill Monroe, left, and Ralph Stanley, in middle photo. brothers, Gene and Reed, sister June, and brother Lester. Farm life wasn’t easy, she said, but it had its rewards. “We raised big gardens for our food and kept chickens, hogs and a cow. We also had a horse to help with the farm chores.” “A neighbor butchered a hog for the family every fall, she said. “We canned the meat and made sausage and sold or traded the hams for 25-pound bags of meal or flour and 50 pounds of October beans. With what we put up from the garden, that carried us through the winter. We canned our garden goods over an outdoor fire for hours at a time. After the jars cooled, we took them to the cellar, a large hole dug under the house, where we also stored cabbage, potatoes, apples and sometimes, rutabagas. Mom liked to get her garden planted early every spring.” One year, her mother had planted two long rows of onions and in a few days, they were above ground. “My brother, Reed, who was about 5 at the time, pulled all of them up and put them in the barn. We had to set them out again the next day.” The Trivette home stood high on the ridge, with “good views” toward Boone and Banner Elk, and what later became the “new” Beech Mountain. “For years, there was only one small light glowing from the house of an older man who lived where the Beech Mountain Recreation Center is today.” The children attended Beech Mountain Elementary School, walking about three miles even in the snow for several years. Sack lunches included canned vegetables and apples, some of which they often traded. The family carried water uphill from a spring, whether for drinking or cooking, bathing or washing clothes, which were hung on lines to dry. “One time, we had four lines full of clothes and bed linens when the horse came through and tore it all down. We had to wash everything over again.” Trivette was a junior in high school when her family got running water in the house. She remembers well the family’s horse, Old Maude, who died while standing up in the field. And their hound dog, Old Smart, always at their side. The day he was hit and killed by a car was a sad one, she said. “We held a funeral for him and buried him near the house.” She remembers her brothers trading a chicken and 50 cents to a neighbor for a mean goat who tore up everything it could find, even climbed a ladder setting up against the house and got on top of the roof. One Sunday, the family came home from church to find the goat inside the house, standing on the kitchen table eating out of the sugar bowl, having already 60


October / November 2021

Leniavell’s mother, Elsie Trivette, is pictured with actress Goldie Hawn, during the local filming of The Winter People.

chewed up new plastic curtains on the bedroom windows, and walked all over new bedspreads her mother had made. “A couple of weeks later, Mom gave the goat away to a man and his grandson who were looking to buy one.”

Learning Life’s Lessons The Hard Way Summers found the family gathering roots and herbs, selling to “the peddler” from Boone, and later used for medicinal purposes. “He gave out a list of what he needed, with the price he’d give, and came back every other Tuesday. We pulled clover blooms, wild lettuce, witch hazel (beadwood) leaves, and dug May apple root and whatever he could use.” One Sunday a woman at church told Elsie that she had made good money by digging needle weed and selling to the peddler. “She said she had bought new bedspreads and curtains with her money, knowing Mom always loved pretty curtains and bedspreads.

Leniavell kept journals for the majority of her life, documenting many details of her storied life that would otherwise be forgotten.

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With the help of, Lena, her niece and caregiver, Leniavell decides to take a look inside her old camper, one that she pulled with her 1969 Camaro to craft and music festivals all over the east coast. Everything is just like she left it several years ago, including her clothes and crafts, such as her ever-popular sock monkeys. After church, Mom said we are going to the woods the next morning to dig needle weed. “It was needle weed, all right, and stung like needles when we tied it up,” she shared. “We did that for three days before we hitched up the horse and sled, bagged and loaded it up and headed out to meet the peddler. Mom told him we had brought him some needle weed root. He said he had never seen anything like that before and couldn’t use it, so we had to haul it back home and dump it below the road.” The Trivettes raised tobacco, usually over half an acre, and sold at the tobacco market in Boone. “One year, Mom and I walked to Beech Creek Road early one morning to get tobacco plants to set out. We pulled the plants, one at a time, enough to pack in a large tub, carried it all the way back home and set them out when we got there.” When it was ready to cut, they hauled it in on a sled to the barn where it had to cure and get ready for market. “One day, one of Mom’s brothers took her and me with the tobacco to the market in Boone in his red pickup truck,” Leniavell recalled. “Mom’s crop sold early that morning and her brother’s sold after lunch. While we waited for him, Mom and I went to Smithey’s Store. We finished our shopping and Mom said we could load 62


our stuff in the truck so we’d be ready and her brother wouldn’t have to wait on us. Mom had bought a linoleum rug for the living room, some groceries and clothes for us kids. The man working at Smithey’s helped us load the rug and our bags in the red Ford pickup that was parked between Smithey’s and the tobacco market. We were sitting there waiting for my uncle when a farmer walked up and stopped at the truck, smiling as he asked us if we were waiting on someone. Mom told him we were waiting for her brother to sell his tobacco. He said, ‘Well, I hate to tell you ladies, but I need my truck.’ We were so embarrassed, thinking it was my uncle’s truck. He laughed and said it was OK. We unloaded everything, with his help, and waited at Smithey’s until my uncle came to get us.” If they didn’t have enough to do on their own farm, they always had a chance to work for other farmers in the summer, like those from Tennessee, with big farms that came with a big truck and loaded up people who wanted to make money picking beans. “They paid 30-50 cents a bushel for what we picked. They took us through Poga and Elk Mills through Butler and near Mtn. City. We worked hard, but enjoyed the good ride. They took us to a little store to get our lunch – usually a slice of baloney or cheese, a Moon Pie and a Pepsi. We picked enough beans to

October / November 2021

buy our lunch and have a little money left over, too.” One day while her mom was picking beans for a neighbor, Leniavell was taking care of our younger siblings when she looked up toward the barn and saw a tall, black-haired man walking down the hill, wearing an Army uniform. “We had never seen anyone dressed like that before. It scared me, so I got my youngest brother, Lester, and carried him on my hip and ran, telling the other kids to run to where Mom was. We ran for dear life up the road that had just been scraped the day before. That gravel was rough on our feet. The man followed us down the road to where Mom was. Turns out, it was her nephew who was on furlough and came to visit. I felt so bad that we had run from him, but we had never seen a soldier before.”

Rock-A-Bye-Bye Baby Chicken, Hello Aunt Bessie The children always had a playhouse in the woodshed where they stayed for hours at a time, pretending to bake pies by filling old gray can lids with mud and using the little white tops out of the lids for plates. “We had a baby cradle in our playhouse that Mom’s brother had made for my brother, Gene, when he was a baby. We liked to put our dog and cat in the cradle and rock them, but they would jump

out and run. We put a chicken in there one day and rocked it to sleep. It never did wake up.” The family cooked supper outside by digging a hole in the ground and piling rocks around it. “We took the rack out of our old stove oven and set it on top of the rocks, then built a fire under the rack. I guess you could say that was our grill. We filled our frying pan with potatoes, tenderloin and corn fritters for a tasty meal and usually had Kool-aide to drink.” A very large tree in the front yard had big leaves on it, which they pretended were umbrellas. “Underneath was a beautiful picnic spot with a wonderful view of the mountains. Sometimes in the evening, we fixed peanut butter and crackers and made a jug of Kool-aide and sat there eating and playing.” “We always had apple trees, cherry trees, plums and grapes and shared with family and friends and they did the same with us.” She remembers picking blackberries and going with her cousin to the Kraut Factory in Boone where they sold them, and with the money brought peaches and sugar, which they canned for the winter. Sometimes, in the summer, they loved it when their Aunt Bessie came to stay a week with them. “She was known for wearing a black hat with a red rose on it. She always hung her coat, hat and pocketbook on the back of the door in the bedroom where I slept. As soon as she left the room, my sister Evanell always came up with a reason to go into that room. I had to hold the door while Evanell prowled through Aunt Bessie’s pocketbook and tried on her hat. My sister was always up to something.” The children’s dad “worked off” in West Virginia in his younger days, and had got hurt on the job, Leniavell said. “He was in and out of the hospital a lot after that. When he was able, he worked at the Whiting Lumber Company on Beech Mountain. When we were young, he made us toys, like cornstalk dogs, cows, horses, pigs and wooded toys.”

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Leniavell recalled really bad winters, and walking through a snow tunnel to church the men had shoveled out. “My brothers always liked to play out in the snow. They’d get an old tire or a piece of tin or an old dishpan and


C O M PANY October / November 2021



The Trivette homeplace on Old Beech Mountain still stands as a shrine, reminding Leniavell that life wasn’t easy, but was good in many ways. ride from the barn to the house in the snow until they made their own wooden sled. We liked to catch snow in a bowl outside, add milk, sugar and vanilla to make ice cream.” They sawed up trees in the fall and used the wood to heat the house and cook on the old woodstove in the winter, but it still wasn’t enough. “We taped sheets of clear plastic over the windows in the winter. Mom often hung an old quilt over the kitchen door to keep the snow from blowing in under the door. The floor got so slick it was like ice-skating in the kitchen.” Every year, about two weeks before Christmas, Leniavell and Gene would go over the fields and through the woods to “find us a Christmas tree to some property Mom had just off Flat Springs Road. We always took our extra-large butcher knife to cut the tree down and then drag it to the house. Evanell, the oldest, got to decide if the tree we chose was the right

one — or if we had to go find another one. Several times she didn’t like it, so we had to go back out to find another one. We decorated it with paper chains from strips cut from colored construction paper that we were given at school, using flour and water to make paste to glue the paper together. Sometimes, we strung popcorn and hung it on the tree, too, with little cloth birds Grandma Trivette had sewed up and stuffed with old strips of fabric. She made little baskets from dynamite wire she had gathered from the side of the road, left over from road construction. We also liked to get a few fireworks at Christmas. Some of the neighbors came by on Christmas Eve and we enjoyed snacks and shooting the fireworks off the front porch. We lit an oil lamp and used it to light the fireworks. One time, a friend was lighting his fireworks with his cigarette, but forgot which was which’ he threw his cigarette in the yard and kept the firecracker in his mouth.”

Leniavelle and her loving niece and caregiver, Lena Trivette, enjoys reminiscing about the good old days, walking over some of the land that as been in the family for several generations, and visiting the nearby family cemetery. “Mom always tried to get us all new clothes for Easter,” Leniavell recalled. One year, she got the National Bellas Hess Catalog and said she had $10 that she wanted to spend on us some clothes. The three boys picked out shirts and pants for 50 cents each. June got a dress for $1.98. There was a beautiful pink dress on the cover of the catalog that both Evanell and I wanted. Mom reminded us that she had $10 to spend on all of us. The dresses were $2.98 each. So, we picked out another dress for $1.98 each and the order went in. We had ordered from that catalog before and knew if they didn’t have what you ordered, they would send something else and sometimes, even better quality. About a week later, we got the package and we all gathered on the front porch as Mom opened the package. We got the surprise of our lives — the two pink taffeta dresses that we wanted plus 14 pink cotton slips with ruffles around the bottoms – and all in my size! But,

While much has changed in recent years, much remains the same for the sweet, humble crafter known far and wide as Leniavell Trivette. 64


October / November 2021

Mom cut some of them down and made June and Evanell both three slips each and sold the rest to our neighbors for their girls.”

Going to the Movies An older couple in the community owned a little country store and were the only ones around who owned a television. “They let the young people come to their house at 5 o’clock in the evening to watch Gunsmoke and The Lone Ranger. They had a gate in the front yard, and a little before 5, the man opened up the gate to let us all go in. Their living room would be full as we lined up to sit on the floor and watch television until 6 o’clock. Then, the man would open up the gate, turn off the television and go to the store. Sometimes, we had a nickel to spend on candy. Then, we walked home.” A family from Connecticutt eventuallly moved next door to the Trivettes; the man drove the school bus at Beech Mountain School, bringing the bus home in the evening and on weekends. On Friday or Saturday nights, he took the young people in the community to Elizabethton, Tenn., about 35 miles

away, to the drive-in theater. “On Monday morning on the way to school, the bus often ran out of gas and the county garage in Newland would have to bring gas, thinking gas had been stolen over the weekend.” Two families living down the hill each had six children. “We were all like family and spent a lot of time together, in school and church, too. We didn’t have a car, so we rode with the neighbors on Sundays to Flat Springs Baptist Church. We didn’t have telephones back then, either. So, when we were planning to go somewhere, we yelled from one family to another, to decide what time we would meet at our house, then we would all leave from there. Sometimes, we walked to different churches together, to revivals and to our church, too, which was near the Tennessee line — sometimes six or eight miles or more.” t These are just a few of the many memories that Leniavell has tucked away in her mind – and written in her journals and book. There are so many more! We hope the threads of her time-honored stories won’t be unraveling anytime soon. What treasures they are!


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C hristmas magic is found

on the farm, not in a parking lot. Tasting Room & Restaurant Visit Our Outdoor Beer Garden in East Boone

Make the trek to the Boone & Blowing Rock area in Watauga County to hand pick your family Christmas tree. Many farms offer hayrides, farm animals, cookies and cocoa, and even Christmas Shops where wreaths and roping are also available. Visit the Choose and Cut Capital this season, and start your own family tradition.

To find a farm, visit: or call 828.264.3061




JUDY CLARKE Still on the Ball at 83 By Jan Todd


hen Judy Clarke was a little girl growing up in Kansas City, she had no thoughts of becoming a pioneer. She — like most of her generation, born in the late 1930’s — just liked to play outside. Yet Clarke was to become a star athlete. She’d be the first in her family to go to college and would even earn her doctorate. She would move to the South and make Boone her home. She would become a coach, a professor, an athletic administrator. She’d be described as a “legend in her own time,” pioneering women’s collegiate athletic programs during the times just before and after Title IX. She’d be inducted into Appalachian State University’s Hall of Fame with a Special Services Award. Next, she’d apply her tireless and enthusiastic work ethic to make a difference in the Boone community through volunteering and leading organizations benefitting children, animals, and others.

Meet Judy Clarke Clarke grew up on the northeast side of Kansas City, in an urban neighborhood with grocery stores and movie theatres in walking distance. As a young girl, she’d spend all day outside, “even in the winter,” she said. She had one brother who was eight years older, plus lots of cousins who lived nearby, and spent a lot of her time with family. She and her friends would play in the streets, tossing a football, playing kick-the-can, and jumping rope. “If there were just two of us, we’d tie one end of the rope to a tree, and one would turn the rope for the other to jump,” Clarke said. As she grew older, Clarke would walk about a mile to a park where she’d play softball with her friends. “I was always very athletic,” Clarke said. As a senior in high school, she was voted “Best Girl Athlete” for the yearbook superlatives. Beginning when she was in the eighth grade, Clarke was a member of a synchronized swimming team called the “Sea Sprites.” “It was the hardest sport I’ve ever done,” Clarke admitted. “Imagine doing ballet, upside down, while holding your breath.” The swimmers would glide, flip, spin and 66


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Judy Clarke was voted “Best Girl Athlete” her senior year at Northeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri, where she graduated in 1956.

Judy Clarke, seated at the dog park adjacent to Watauga Humane Society. She frequently takes her dog, Sunshine, for a romp in the park. dance with lights. “We would go to all the country clubs and put on shows,” she said. “And it was so cold! Early in the season, doing the shows at night, it was freezing. We would practice our routines every day, for hours.” Clarke was a member of the Sea Sprites every summer, until she was in college. When they weren’t practicing, the Sea Sprites taught swimming lessons through the Red Cross. “The kids we taught were usually from broken homes or needed some extra help. That’s where I learned how to teach, and developed a love for teaching and for helping kids,” she said. When she was in high school, Clarke said she played all types of sports, including field hockey, softball, volleyball, basketball and gymnastics. “We didn’t have any organized teams for girls at that time, so we did a little bit of everything,” she explained. “Those who were good at sports all got to meet during the last class period of the day, and sometimes we’d play games against groups from other schools.” Girls’ basketball at that time was six-person half-court. “We could dribble two times, then had to pass. Offense was on one side of the court, and The back of the state championship program for Univ. of Iowa’s women’s basketball team in 1972 — celebrating the advances in the sport. Many more changes were to come during Judy Clarke’s career!

Judy Clarke over the years: at age 2 (left), age 10 beside her home in Kansas City (middle), and as professor and associate athletic director at Appalachian State University (right). defense played the other side,” Clarke recalled. Later, she said, women’s basketball evolved to a “rover” game, where the two best players were selected to play full court, while the rest of the team had to stick to their designated sides.

College Years After she graduated from high school in 1956, Clarke attended Central Missouri State College, at the time a “normal school” — the term for an institution created to train its students to be teachers. With her interest and aptitude for athletics, she studied to become a physical education teacher. “After graduating, I taught junior high school for three years,” Clarke shared. “That’s all it took.” While she enjoyed working with the students, Clarke said she didn’t enjoy the

paperwork, or the interference from the administration. “They’d come down and tell me to get the girls outside, if it was a nice day. But I was in the middle of teaching a session on gymnastics and needed to be indoors. I just had other ideas about how to teach a physical education program,” she said. Clarke decided she wanted to do something different and went to the University of Northern Colorado to pursue her graduate degree. Then, a friend called from the University of Iowa (UI) and invited her to teach there. “The University of Iowa was the best physical education school in the country at that time,” Clarke said. “They had a split program, with the women on one side of the river and the men on the other.” Clarke was an activities instructor at the university for a year or so when she

noticed that all of the other instructors were taking classes, in addition to teaching. “I was having a great time teaching, but thought, why not? I liked taking classes. So I picked up one class each semester and took more in the summers, and next thing you know I had my doctorate.” In 1965, she and another instructor at UI began assembling a women’s basketball team. “The head of our department was not for this at all,” Clarke recalled. “We asked for 10 basketballs, and she said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to come and get those basketballs out of my office every day and bring them back when you’re done.’” “I don’t know what she thought we were going to do with those basketballs, but she didn’t want to make it easy for us, that’s for sure,” Clarke said. Their team wasn’t recognized as an of-

Judy Clarke (2nd from left) was one of the inaugural members of the Sea Sprites, a synchronized swimming team in Kansas City. 68


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Judy Clarke was hired by Appalachian State University in 1972 as associate professor and coach of the women’s basketball and volleyball teams. She led the women Mountaineer basketball team to an 11-game winning streak in 1975-76. Clarke spent 24 years at App State, as ficial university team, but they were able ing for her next position. She attended a to arrange games and tournaments with physical education instructors conference coach of the Mountaineers’ women’s volother regional colleges that were also or- and connected with some people from leyball (1972-75) and basketball (1972-81) Appalachian State University. She was in- programs, and as an athletics administraganizing women’s basketball programs. tor — named assistant athletic director in “Our players had to wear their own vited to interview. Clarke had never been to North Caro- 1973, then promoted to associate athletics tennis shoes, and we didn’t have real uniforms. The girls would wear white shirts lina before. “Listen,” she said during her director in 1990. She also taught physical and white tops, and we had vests with interview. “I don’t want to be hot. If it education classes during her tenure. Roachel Laney, who began working numbers on them to wear over the tops, to gets hot here, forget it. I’ll go live someat App State in 1975 and served as the identify the players,” Clarke said. “We had where else.” She was assured that the Boone cli- athletic director from 1990-2005, called no money for the program. I’d make peaClarke a “pioneer of womnut butter and jelly sanden’s athletics on the collewiches for the girls to eat giate level.” on the way to the games. “Judy laid the groundSometimes, if the players work, the foundation could afford it, we’d stop for the success of Appafor a hamburger.” lachian’s women’s proClarke said they did grams,” Laney said. “One the best they could with thing I’m proud of is that what they had. App State was ahead of so Basketball was changmany other institutions in ing for women, evolving supporting women’s athto the 5-player full-court In 2008, Clarke (far right) was inducted into the App State Hall of Fame with a letics — and a lot of that game, just like the men Special Service Award, described as one who positively influenced every was because of Judy.” played. Clarke and her felaspect of the women’s athletic program at the university. “I had the best job at low instructors attended training to learn to teach the new game. Clarke became the head coach at UI for women’s basketball and led her team to the state championship. “That made me a shoe-in for the job at Appalachian,” she said.

Becoming a Mountaineer After Clarke earned her doctorate from UI, she realized her department head was not interested in supporting women’s basketball, and began look-

mate was pleasant, never too hot and not really cold. “They told me it wouldn’t get below 30 degrees. Ha!” Clarke laughed. “They took me to lunch at Dan’l Boone Inn and told me to be sure to have some ham biscuits. I wasn’t used to country ham, and I took a bite and it stuck in my teeth!” Clarke said. Still, she got the job, and was asked to coach basketball and volleyball, plus offered the position of associate professor.

Appalachian,” Clarke said. “I loved every minute of it.” Clarke said she arrived at App State “at the right time,” with the passing of Title IX — the education amendment of 1972 that prohibited sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. The amendment opened the doors for women in school sports, from elementary schools up to college level. Women’s basketball was in its infancy at most universities, including App State.

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After retiring from App State, Judy Clarke took up a number of activities, including art. She is still a member of the High Country Watermedia Society and serves as exhibition directory. The art group meets once a month from May through November. Clarke has several of her paintings displayed in her home and has sold a few pet themed pieces in the Bare Bones Boutique to benefit Watauga Humane Society. There were no scholarships for women when Clarke arrived, she said. “We had tryouts and took whoever came in, just made a team out of them.” Most of the players were physical education majors, Clarke said, and “they just wanted to play.” Many of the basketball players also played volleyball, with ten games per season for each of the sports. Clarke said the players’ minds weren’t

always on the game, though. “I remember one time I scheduled a practice on a Friday afternoon. I had a player come up and tell me she couldn’t make it, because her sister was a cheerleader in a town off the mountain. She said she needed to go watch the high school football game,” Clarke recalled. “It took us awhile, but we built a program,” she said. While at the helm of

the basketball team, she coached three 1,000-point scorers and led the women Mountaineers on an 11-game winning streak in 1975-76. In the early days, Clarke often found herself behind the wheel of the 15-passenger van, driving the team to games off the mountain. “We had some dicey times in the snow,” she said. One time, in the mid-1970s during

Judy Clarke (top left) has enjoyed the Senior Games sponsored by the Watauga Recreation Department, earning medals in track and field, basketball, and table tennis and bowling. On the right, Judy is pictured with one of her pups, adopted from Watauga Humane Society. 70


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the “gas wars,” Clarke recalled, “You couldn’t get gas except on certain days, and we were on our way back from a game late one night. We made it almost to Blowing Rock, and the tank ran out. I had to walk up to a motel and ask to use the phone to have someone bring us some gas so I could get the girls home.” Laney said, “Judy always looked out for people, her student athletes, her students. She always had a kind word and a smile. She wasn’t just a successful coach — she was an outstanding administrator.” “We could sit in a room and shoot straight with one another,” Laney shared. “I’m thankful I started my administrative career with her.”

Giving to the Community At App State, faculty and staff were encouraged and given opportunities to serve in the community, and Clarke began volunteering with several non-profit organizations in the 1990s. She taught an aerobics class for fellow faculty and staff at the Broome-Kirk Gym on campus, where she met Bettie Bond, who taught history at the university. “We hit it off right away,” Clarke said. The two, along with a few others, helped organize The Fur Ball for the Watauga County Humane Society (WHS), the Heart Ball for the American Heart Association, and other fundraisers. “We called ourselves The Committee,” said Bond. “We were each getting one another involved in different events and having a lot of fun.” Clarke began volunteering with the WHS in the mid-1990s, at the time the shelter was located next door to the Town of Boone Water Treatment Facility. In the late 1990s, discussions began about renovating the shelter – which was in a floodprone area and sometimes required frantic evacuations during heavy rains. The first Fur Ball, benefitting WHS, was held in 1998 at the Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock. “Judy had a hand in starting that fundraiser,” said Paula Katers, who is now the vice president on the board of directors for WHS. “We held a Fur Ball every year up until 2019, and I don’t think Judy missed one,” she added. In 2003, WHS purchased almost 14 acres on Don Hayes Road, near the Blue Ridge Parkway on the east side of Boone. There was a small house on the property, 72


Judy Clarke inside Bare Bones Boutique, a thrift shop she founded to benefit Watauga Humane Society.

Clarke has always been an animal lover and served on the board of Watauga Humane Society for 20 years.

and Clarke wanted to put it to good use. She proposed a thrift shop, named “Bare Bones Boutique,” to use as a revenue generator for WHS. “Judy was gung-ho about the thrift shop from day one,” Katers said, who has volunteered at the boutique alongside Clarke. “Judy brings a calm, sweet nature to everything she does. She has put her heart and soul into the thrift shop and made it successful. Last year we brought in $70,000 — and we were closed three months because of COVID!” The boutique is open about 12 hours a week, and Clarke still works there on Saturdays. “I always loved animals,” Clarke shared. “When I first moved to Boone,

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I bought a mobile home and lived in a trailer park off of Bamboo Road. When people moved away, a lot of them would just leave their cats, and I took them all in. I did my share of scooping kitty litter, though, so since then I’ve just had dogs.” Clarke served on the WHS board of directors for many years, holding the office of president at one time. This past September, she retired from the board and was honored with the Dee Dundon Service Award for her lengthy service.

Playing Santa Another voluntary endeavor close to Clarke’s heart is Santa’s Toybox, originated in the High Country 35 years ago by Deerfield Methodist Church. The organi-

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A room at Watauga Humane Society was named for Judy Clarke, honoring her years of service and contributions. zation collects new and lightly used toys in several locations around Boone and Blowing Rock, then allows parents of children in need to select gifts for under the tree. Clarke’s involvement stemmed from a friendship with Gene Swift, who has served as co-chair with Clarke for the charity since 1995. Swift and Clarke shared how their Santa days began. “I first met Judy when I was a teenager. She had just come to Boone as a coach for Appalachian, and I worked at the grocery store where she shopped,” said Swift. “He always carried my groceries, and we would chat on the way to the car,” Clarke recalled. The two became friends. Years later, Swift invited Clarke to join the Optimist Club. During one meeting, Bill Chapman, a member of Deerfield Methodist and invested in the Santa’s Toybox initiative, asked Swift to take over running the program. “I told Bill I’d think about it,” said Swift. At the next Optimist Club meeting, Chapman announced the new chair of the Toybox program: Gene Swift. “I could tell by Gene’s face that he was completely surprised,” recounted Clarke. “So I told him if he headed it up, I’d help him.” “Judy has always been willing to help, especially with things that involve youth,” said Swift. “She contributes energy. She always has energy to do the things she cares about.” Volunteering has given Clarke a “second life,” she said. “After retirement, you can still feel like you are making a difference. You make new friends, and you work toward a goal. I had the best job at Appalachian State, but we all know when it is time to do new things. I took up traveling, started painting, and giving love to people and animals in the community. t


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The Rotary Pavilion by Davant Athletic Field was built for the club’s 50th anniversary.

Rotarians Joey Perdue, Virginia Vanstory and Klaus Schirow at the Horse Show.

Blowing Rock Rotary Club Story by Harley Nefe


ounded in Chicago in February 1905 as the world’s first volunteer service organization, Rotary quickly expanded around the world. Now through more than 31,000 clubs in more than 165 countries, 1.3 million members meet weekly for fellowship, to discuss local and global topics and to plan service projects around the world and in their communities. Locally in the High Country community, members of the Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club are celebrating their 75th anniversary, as the club was organized on August 30, 1946, with the permanent charter granted on September 28, 1946. A plaque on the wall of the Rotary Pavilion shows the names of the people who contributed to the project.

The club’s impact has reached as far as providing for school systems in Uruguay.



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Virginia Vanstory, who is a former Rotary Club president and served in many roles for the club over the years, has rich memories of members sharing World War II stories in the beginning of the Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club’s establishment. “I just like to picture the men who just got back from the war,” Vanstory said. “It was barely over in 1946, and they started the Rotary Club. I like to picture what Blowing Rock was like and how they served in the Army and then came over and decided to serve Blowing Rock.” Shortly after the club was founded, the original members partnered with the American Legion to develop Memorial Park in honor of Veterans as their first project. “That project is a big part of the his-

Rotarians performed eye exams for a clinic in Belize in Central America.

The Rotary Club has worked on projects for the Glen Burney Falls Trail.

Members helped sponsor the gazebo in Memorial Park of Blowing Rock.

Celebrates 75th Anniversary tory of this club,” said Jim West, former president and current member of Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club. “And every few years, we continue to do something for the local parks.” One significant project that laid the groundwork and fundraising efforts for additional park maintenance is the production of the book, titled “A Village Tapestry,” that depicts the history of Blowing Rock. The town was approaching its centennial, and the book serves as a lasting tribute to the pioneer families who contributed to the town’s growth and development for its first 100 years. The proceeds from the sales of “A Village Tapestry” provided funds to improve the swampy area known as Mayview Lake. Members of Rotary and other key individuals pledged their support to provide additional funding to not just clean up the swamp but to also plan a series

of parks — Broyhill Park and the Annie Cannon Gardens. Residents and visitors stroll in these public areas to attend many beloved concerts and special events there. Other local park areas that the Rotary Club has been involved with projects at include the Glen Burney Falls Trail, and, most recently, the Middle Fork Greenway. “Our club has continued to do a big amount of fundraising for these park projects,” West said. “About eight years ago, our cumulative total raised over the years was $750,000 for just parks in this town. Almost every park there are people in, Rotary was a sponsor. We do a lot of the hands-on work and give back to the community by enhancing these areas.”

The Rotary Club provided funding and support to a charity dental clinic.

The Four-Way Test is recited at the end of every Rotary meeting and acts as a moral code for members.

Members partnered with Little Samaritan Mission for a water and sewer project in Moldova.

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When the club turned 50 years old, they celebrated with the building of the Rotary Pavilion by Davant Athletic Field. Members of Rotary saw the need to provide a covered picnic shelter at the local ball field to accommodate approximately 100 people. “You’ll see a plaque on the wall of the picnic pavilion with the names of the people who contributed, and there’s a pretty good list of those who raised funds for that pavilion,” West said. “The picnic tables are very sturdy and heavy and were put together by a dozen Rotarians, and now they are 25 years old.” Along with the celebration of their history, comes the recognition of the club’s impact. The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock is a tight-knit, dynamic, friendly, successful and dedicated club. It is an asset to the community, the region and to the world with its charity work. The members have fun, but also work very hard and give generously in charitable endeavors. “I’ve been very impressed with what the Blowing Rock Rotary Club has been able to contribute to the community,” said Charlie Sellers, Mayor of Blowing Rock. “I think we are very blessed to have such a strong organization that invests interest in the community, citizens, students and children.” Sellers continued, “They contribute to many improvements within the town and community. Anyone visiting Blowing Rock will notice lots of projects and efforts from the Rotary Club, including how they spearheaded the building of the Rotary Pavilion on Davant Field. They were contributors to the gazebo in Memorial Park. For many years, they worked a tutoring program at the Blowing Rock School and worked in conjunction with Watauga County Schools. They led the town Cleanup Day, and every year, they assist with the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show. Moving forward, I think Blowing Rock Rotary has been a very, very strong foundation with projects within the community, and I look forward to working with the Blowing Rock Rotary on new and upcoming projects within the area.” The current president of the club, Jim Zellner, said besides parks and recreation, Rotary also has a focus on youth activities and families and children. In order to give to charities specializing in these objectives, the Rotary Club participates in fundraising programs. The Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show is one of the major events the Rotary Club partners with. This partnership has been going on since at least the 1980s, and the Rotary Club distributes some of the proceeds from the event to charities of their choosing. Another main event that takes place every year is the Rotary Club’s Charity Auction. The club recently had its eighth anniversary of the project, where they raised about $215,000 and gave that money to programs like the Hunger and Health Coalition to help feed families. With their focus on youth, the Rotary Club members have also served as tutors for students at Blowing Rock School. “One story I heard that happened when my father was president is that a mother called and said, ‘My son came home and did math homework without being told for the first time,’” Jim West recalled. “So, we planted a seed with this tutoring, and it was such a hit that we started hosting a Career Day between all the schools in the county. It focuses on seeing what the students want to do when they grow up and when they move on to high school and further.” Rotarians can be found gathering for lunch every Monday at noon at the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock, where they stay up to date on important issues, plan service projects and donate “happy dollars” to their cause. 76


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The Career Day usually occurs during Spring Break in March at the Holmes Convocation Center in Boone. Eighth grade students are invited to attend from all eight schools in Watauga County. All attending students are able to go through and learn about all the different programs at the high school, like the various courses, sports and clubs. Teachers and students from the high school that are in different departments attend to meet the rising high school students and share what they do and their experiences. “It’s really an interesting thing to see these kids in this environment where they learn about what they can do the next year when they go to the high school and are joining as ninth graders,” Jim Zellner said. “It’s a nice orientation.” The members of Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club have taken part in many other local projects, such conducting blood drives with the American Red Cross, picking up trash off streets, ringing bells for the Salvation Army’s Christmas collection kettles and driving nails and applying paint on new houses for Habitat for Humanity. However, the list doesn’t end there. The Rotary Club has had a major and positive impact not only on the Blowing Rock community and the High Country area, but also on the lives of people worldwide through its contributions to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Rotary International is the global network of Rotary that bridges cultures and connects continents to establish peace, fight illiteracy and poverty, promote clean water and sanitation and fight diseases. “We have as many Rotarians outside of the United States as we do inside the United States,” Jim Zellner said. “The Rotary organization worldwide is strong, and it really reaches into small communities globally because it has a presence already in the communities.” Members are encouraged to attend other Rotary Club meetings in addition to their home club. “You just get so much more perspective if you go to other clubs, and you just see what Rotary is about and what other people’s projects are,” Virginia Vanstory said. Various Rotary Clubs will also partner together on projects to have an even larger impact around the world. One of the global projects Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club participated in involved collecting 215 boxes of used computers, printers, keyboards, monitors and mice and then packing and shipping the electronic items to Uruguay to provide for the school systems. Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club also provided funding and support to a charity dental clinic in Belize through the help and cooperation with Belize City Rotary Club members. This involved the members purchasing dental equipment including new chairs, sterilizers, instruments and specialized lighting for the clinic. Rotarians then travelled to Belize to perform repairs and improvements on the facilities of the clinic. “These projects require a host club, and we can’t do it without them,” Zellner explained. “We don’t go in and think we know what we’re doing and what the culture is. So, the host club works with us and helps us understand what the needs are. We all work together.” Barbara Prichard, who is a new member joining Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club, said she was interested in Rotary because it obviously makes a difference, and there’s a rewarding feeling Rotarians always greet their members and welcome interested folks to also attend their meetings, where they begin every time by citing the pledge before they lead into key discussions. October / November 2021



between. Rotary is a way to do that to stay involved to that. in the community and to meet people, too. With “It’s a commitment, but it’s very worththe camaraderie and the good works, that’s while,” Prichard said. “There’s a commitment what drew me to Rotary.” to overseas projects, as well as local projects, Curt Salthouse is one of the newest and I’ve been impressed as a newcomer and members of the club, and he joined after his new to the state that it has so much effect wife, Alice, had been a member for a numon youth and families in need. That really ber of years and was a past club president. stood out to me.” “My wife has been a member of this club The organization’s slogan has always for probably 20 years or close to it,” Saltbeen “Service above self.” house said. “It has been a great club, and I’ve “One of the things that Rotary does is watched it through the years. They do a lot of provide an opportunity for newcomers to meet good for Blowing Rock and the whole area. I’m people and find out what’s going on in the town glad to be a part of it.” and who’s involved in what,” Zellner said. “It gives Cullie Tarleton has been a member for 18 years. them an opportunity to get involved. They get the oppor“I would say the camaraderie and the opportunity to spend tunity to give to their communities, and that’s really important.” Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club meets at the Meadowbrook Inn time with like-minded people is what drew me here,” Tarleton on Mondays at 12 p.m., and at the meetings, there will be speak- said. “They have done a great deal for Blowing Rock over the ers that come and talk about important issues happening in the years. We always need some new members, and we welcome people to come and join us!” t community to keep members updated and involved. “Someone once mentioned,’Where does the name come from? What does Rotary even mean?’” Jim West said. “The Past Presidents of the Blowing Rock Rotary Club founding members would meet in each other’s office then 1984-85 Rev. Kenneth Clapp ‘rotate’ to another member’s office for the next meeting. 1946-47 Rev. Walter Keys 1947-48 Rev. Walter Keys 1985-86 James White The symbol is a wheel with gears on it, and it’s working, operating; the wheel is rotating. The symbol represents the 1948-49 Grover Robbins. Sr. 1986-87 William Burke different areas: international projects, local projects, youth, 1949-50 John Lyon 1987-88 Robert Gibson parks and being involved with so many different things to 1950-51 Orren Stone 1988-89 Robert Whatley give back to the communities.” 1951-52 Robert Hardin 1989-90 Christopher May There are many different reasons why people join Ro- 1952-53 William Fulton 1990-91 David Greene tary. Whether it’s to meet new people or to serve their com- 1953-54 Charles Williams 1991-92 Francis Slattery munity, Blowing Rock’s Rotary Club has 40 members. 1954-55 Rathmell Wilson 1992-93 Derald M. West David Sweet, who retired from Appalachian State Uni- 1955-56 Rev. Walter Keys 1993-94 Eric W. Johnson versity as the project manager in design and construction, 1956-57 Howard Holshouser 1994-95 Cobb Milner, Jr. is one member. 1957-58 John Goodwin 1995-96 Louis Weischedel “When I retired from ASU, I wanted to stay involved 1958-59 Harry Robbins 1996-97 James D. West in the community,” Sweet said. “My wife and I had started 1959-60 Joel McCurry 1997-98 Rodney Clark focusing more on Blowing Rock than Boone; we lived in 1960-61 Everett Widener, Jr. 1998-99 Dorothy Durand

Rotary Club members have badges they wear at their meetings and functions and then, afterward, they are stored away at the location. 78


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1961-62 Tom Shelton 1962-63 Council Cooke 1963-64 Blake Brinkerhoff 1964-65 John Goodwin 1965-66 Merlin Clubine 1966-67 Rev. George Hyler, 1967-68 Walton Allen 1968-69 Leon Stacks 1969-70 Alvin R. Keppel 1970-71 Joel McCurry 1971-72 William E. Cox 1972-73 Hovey Scoggins 1973-74 Rufus E. Hallmark 1974-75 James Marsh, Jr. 1975-76 Reggie High 1976-77 John Troxler 1977-78 John Mallory 1978-79 George Kinnard 1979-80 Lewington Ponder 1980-81 Roland Pruess 1981-82 H. Lisle Snyder 1982-83 Edward Curtis 1983-84 Samuel T. Morgan

1999-00 Orian Carter 2000-01 Frank Fary, Jr. 2001-02 Bill Leahey 2002-03 Kim Johnson 2003-04 Virginia Vanstory 2004-05 Al Wheeler 2005-06 Bill Parker 2006-07 John Calvin 2007-08 John Albright 2008-09 Alice Salthouse 2009-10 Mike Kebelbeck 2010-11 Rita Davis 2011-12 Vernon Dunn 2012-13 Linda Slade 2013-14 Jim Clabough 2014-15 John Marshall 2015-16 Basil Kuzyszyn 2016-17 Ray Pickett 2017-18 Chuck Canady, III 2018-19 Kenneth Wehrmann 2019-20 Ed Tausche 2020-21 Greg Davis 2021-22 Jim Zellner


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Parting Shot...

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Rennie Brantz sitting at the North Street Park in Boone that the Boone Town Council has renamed in his honor.

Boone Mayor Rennie Brantz is Retiring from Politics After 18 Years


oone Mayor Rennie Brantz has decided that after almost 20 years of service on the Boone Town Council and as the Mayor of Boone, he will retire and step away from local politics. Brantz was first elected to the town council in 2005 and was always a popular figure on the board, winning re-election each time he ran. He was appointed to take over as Boone’s Mayor in 2015 to fill an unexpired term following the resignation of Mayor Andy Ball. Brantz ran for re-election twice more as mayor and won each time. When asked what it’s like to be mayor, Brantz said, “Well, you don’t get a lot of sleep. The phone rings in the middle of the night sometimes, but it’s not all bad. People will call to remind me that somebody has accomplished something like starting a business that has been successful, and those are the really heartwarming things that I get a lot of in Boone because people are out making this a better place.” As mayor, Brantz receives lots of invitations to events, and the role takes up a lot of time. “But it’s not a chore,” he said. “It’s really 80


a joy to be able to congratulate people and to support our community in different efforts.” The mayor spent most of his early years in Kansas and Nebraska. Brantz attended college at Doane University in Crete, Nebraska and then went on to Ohio State University to get his Ph.D. He first came to Boone in 1974 when he was hired at Appalachian State to teach history. He continued teaching at the university and working with the history department on numerous programs until his eventual retirement from there in 2016. “I worked for App State for over 42 years, and that was a great experience,” Brantz said. “I couldn’t ask for a better career in teaching history.” Brantz was known as a historical buff, not only in the classroom but also in the community. He was one of the most prominent figures in the founding of Boone’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Boone Historic District. At App State, Brantz was the founder and director of the Freshman Seminar program and was the founder and coordinator for the campus’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies.

October / November 2021

“One thing I’m really proud of is founding the Historic Preservation Commission for Boone, which I think has done a wonderful job at rescuing the past and preserving it for the future,” Brantz said. “I think we accomplished a good number of things.” Brantz notices now there is a younger generation growing up in Boone, and it’s time to let them have their say. “Times are changing, and values are changing, and the population of Boone has changed a good deal for the positive,” he said. “Most people living in Boone are pleased to be here. You can’t hardly beat it as a place to live and to raise your children and to work, so I’ve been very blessed in my career and my relationships with Boone and this community. It’s a wonderful place. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.” In a bit of a going-away present, the Boone Town Council decided at the September 16 meeting that the North Street Park will be named after Mayor Brantz. The park is in the Junaluska community. When asked if he had any final thoughts, Brantz responded with a sincere, “Thank you, Boone.” By Harley Nefe

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