OBITUARIES: Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018

Bernice Silver Howell

Bernice Silver Howell, 97, of Cleve Silver Road, Bakersville, went home to be with the Lord Jan. 30, 2018. A native of Mitchell County, she was a daughter of the late Cleve and Mamie Buchanan Silver. She was retired from Ellen Knitting Company. Bernice was a lifelong member of Silver Chapel Baptist Church where she was a dedicated servant of the church for many years. She loved gardening, and cooking for and taking care of her family and friends.

Survivors include her daughters, Faye Benge (David), of Marion, Betty Jean Hoilman, of Bakersville, Linda Yelton (Howard), of Bakersville; a special friend, Ronald McKinney; 11 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren; and 10 great-great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death, in addition to her parents, by her husband, Floyd Howell; six brothers, Lucian, Claude, Charles, Brown, Ray and Howard Silver; two sisters, Kate Byrd and Revia Buchanan; three children, Billy Joe, Wayne and Floyd Howell Jr.; and one great-great-grandchild, Joshua Acuff.

Funeral services were 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in Silver Chapel Baptist Church with the Rev. Jonathan Thacker officiating. The family received friends one hour prior to the service. Interment followed the service at Silver Chapel Cemetery.

Henline-Hughes Funeral Home is assisting the Howell family.


Charles Patrick McKinney

Charles Patrick (Pat) McKinney, 49, of Highway 261, Bakersville, went home to be with the Lord Jan. 29, 2018. He was a native of Mitchell County. Patrick was a member of Bakersville Baptist Church and attended Little Rock Creek Baptist Church. He was a graduate of Mitchell High School. He enjoyed traveling during his father’s lifetime. Patrick enjoyed helping his mother, his music and his friends.

Survivors include his mother, Marie Hobson McKinney, of the home; one brother, Ben McKinney (Marcia), of Bakersville; and three nephews, Matthew, Mark and Ryan Peterson.

He was preceded in death by his father, Benton McKinney; and his brother, Dan Peterson.

The family received friends from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, at Henline-Hughes Funeral Home. Funeral services were 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, at Little Rock Creek Baptist Church with Bob McCurry, Danny Silver and Toby Crowder officiating. Interment followed the service at Bakersville Memorial Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Bakersville Baptist Cemetery Fund.

Henline-Hughes Funeral Home is assisting the McKinney family.


Betty Sue Phillips

On Jan. 21, 2018, Betty Phillips (Teeter) neé Drymon, 90, departed this world and went to be with her Savior.

Betty Sue was born June 6, 1927, in Erwin, Tennessee, to Nadja A. Drymon (Sullins) and Carl F. Drymon. She lived her early days in Spruce Pine and Gastonia. Her later years found her studying nursing with her sister, Perry, at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte. Betty married John H. Teeter, of Charlotte, and moved to Roanoke, Virginia, where she raised her five boys. Betty proudly focused on pediatric nursing and was made instructor of the year at Community Hospital of the Roanoke Valley in 1973. Later, she wed Thomas M. Phillips, of Spruce Pine, and ran a small bed and breakfast named Still Hollow near Ingalls. Betty had a lifelong love of gardening and in retirement, she continued her studies and ultimately achieved the rank of Master Gardener.

She was predeceased by her sisters, Marjorie, Delsey Bradshaw, Joyce Hall and Carlene Bailey; and is survived by her sister, Perry Shaffer, of Asheville. In her marriage to John H. “Hal” Teeter, she is survived by son, John (Fara) Teeter, of Salem, Virginia; grandson, Ken Teeter, of Roanoke; son, Tom Teeter, of Roanoke; son, Bob Teeter, of Roanoke; granddaughter, Leslie (Robbie) Van Gieson; great-grandsons Justin and Bryce Van Gieson; son, Jeff (Kathy) Teeter, of Boones Mill, Virginia; grandchildren, Karla Teeter and Collin Teeter, of Boones Mill; and son, Dan Teeter, of Memphis, Tennessee.

By marriage to Thomas M. Phillips, she is survived by Vickie and Jack Ollis, of Woodstock, Georgia; Michael and Joy Phillips; son, Thomas, of Raleigh; Marcia and Darrell Cantrell, of Lebanon, Virginia; son, Ben Cantrell; grandson, Landon; granddaughter, Hannah, of Kingston, Georgia; son, Jarrod (Amanda) Cantrell; grandson, Jordon, of Cedar Bluff, Virginia; daughter, Tracy (Jeff) Maggard; grandson, Jacob; granddaughter, Kayla, of Pounding Mill, Virginia; Stanley Phillips, of Wake Forest; and daughter, Megan Phillips, of Ocoee, Florida.

Memorial arrangements for Betty will be in late July 2018 in Spruce Pine on a date and time to be determined. Those interested may email


Kate Sparks Pitman

Kate Sparks Pitman, 87, of Pitt Road, Spruce Pine, died Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, at her home.

Born April 2, 1930, in Mitchell County, she was the daughter of the late Fred A. and Nellie Pitman Sparks. In addition to her parents, she was also preceded in death by her husband, Walter Pitman, who passed away in 2000. She was also preceded in death by her son, Doug Pitman; her brothers, Ted, Joe, Frank and Eugene Sparks; and her sister, Mary Louise Wyatt.

Kate was a member of the Bear Creek Baptist Church. She loved her church and church family. She sang in the church choir and was a member of the Golden Age Singers. She also enjoyed traveling.

Left to cherish her memories are her daughter, Pam Boone, of Spruce Pine; her sister, Loretta Pitman, of Spruce Pine; her brother, Parnell Sparks, of Bakersville; her grandchildren, Tammy Bailey, Casey Boone, Shane Pitman and Shannon Pitman; and six great-grandchildren.

A funeral service honoring the life of Kate Pitman was 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, at the Bear Creek Baptist Church with the Rev. Bruce Cannon officiating. A time to support the family, share memories and receive friends was 1-2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, at Bear Creek Baptist Church. Interment followed in the Spruce Pine Memorial Cemetery.

Words of comfort may be emailed to the family by going to, selecting Kate Pitman’s name and signing her guestbook. Webb Funeral Home of Spruce Pine is assisting the Pitman family. Ms. Pitman’s obituary has also been posted on Facebook.


Leon Neil Sanford

Leon Neil Sanford, 90, of Spruce Pine, passed away Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, at Brian Center Health and Rehab in Spruce Pine. A service was 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, at Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel, in Mountain Home, Idaho, with viewing starting at 9:30 a.m., funeral service at 11 a.m, followed with military honors and burial at Mountain View Cemetery in Mountain Home, Idaho.

Leon was born Nov. 2, 1927, in Waynesville, to Robert Gilmer and Leola (Hill) Sanford. He attended and graduated with honors from Crabtree-Ironduff High School in 1945.

In 1949, Leon joined the U.S. Air Force and completed two years of college and was in the Air Force for 26 years. During that time, he served in Iceland and twice in Korea during the Korean War, working mainly in personnel and supply. His family missed him while away but honored by his service to our country. In 1975, Leon retired from the Air Force as a Master Sargent.

During this time in Leon’s life he met and married Louise Burrell on May 21, 1955, and Leon gained a stepson, Ronald Cagle. While in the Air Force he pitched the Mountain Home Air Force Base Softball team to a championship victory.

After retirement Leon and Louise managed the Park Central Apartments in Mountain Home. He was an avid rock hound with all the tools of the trade. In 1994, Leon started and commanded the Mountain Home Citizens on Patrol “COPs”. In September 2006, the Elmore County Sheriff asked Leon to start up as commander of Elmore County Citizens on Patrol. Leon also held the position of the president of the COPs for the State of Idaho. He was also a proud member of the USA Freedoms Corps, American Legion Post No. 26 and Elks Lodge BPOE No. 2276. He also enjoyed bowling and donating money and time to many groups, including Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home and the Idaho Wounded Warrior Project.

He is survived by his daughters, Donna Sanford Stewart and Patricia (Jeff) Ingalls; sister, Loraine Caldwell; grandchildren, Danny Smiley Jr., Gretchen Smith and Seth Harris; eight great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. Leon was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Gilmer Sanford and Leola Reva Hill Sanford; wife, Louise Burrell Sanford; brothers, Farrell Sanford and Max Sanford; sisters, Audrey Moore and Jane Lonsway; stepson, Ronald Cagle; and grandson, Jeremy Smiley.



R.J. McClellan

R.J. McClellan, 80, of Phillips Road, Spruce Pine, died Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, at Brian Center Health & Rehab in Weaverville. Private services were Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Interment was in the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery. Words of comfort may be emailed by going to, selecting R.J. McClellan’s name and signing his guestbook. Webb Funeral Home in Spruce Pine is assisting the McClellan family.

The MItchell News

Mailing Address: PO Box 339 
Spruce Pine, NC 28777 
Phone: 828-765-7169
Fax: 828-765-1616