Obituaries: Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Robert ‘Don’ Abernathy

Robert “Don” Abernethy, 82, passed away Wednesday, May 8, 2019. He was the son of the late Robert and Edith Sherrill Abernethy and brother of the late William Carl Abernethy. Survivors are his daughter, Tracy Abernethy Ford (Len); son, Robert G. Abernethy; and granddaughters, Haley Ford-Wilcox (Taylor) and Lanie Elizabeth Abernethy.

Don grew up in Huntersville and attended North Mecklenburg High School, playing football and earning all-county status. Upon graduation, Don enlisted in the U.S. Army and became part of the Green Beret’s 77th Airborne Special Forces participating in mountain/high-altitude warfare training. His primary expertise was radio operator. Upon his honorable discharge, he studied architecture, practicing from the Charlotte area and serving a term as the Charlotte Chapter AIA president. Don continued to pursue his architectural passion in a consultative capacity until his retirement.

Throughout his life he loved being in the Western North Carolina Mountains and was a consummate outdoors man enjoying camping, hunting, archery marksmanship competitions and spending time at his farm in Mitchell County.

In his later years, he lived with his best friend, Monika Volkin. He enjoyed their lovely Charlotte neighborhood and caring neighbors amid the beautiful outdoor scenery. Don will always be remembered as strong and supportive by his family. The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff at Levine and Dickson Hospice at Aldersgate for its compassion. There will be a memorial service at 11 a.m. Monday, July 8, 2019, at Mt. Zion Community Cemetery.

Please call Raymer-Kepner funeral home at 704-892-9669 for additional information.

Mitchell News-Journal • May 22, 2019

Mildred Presnell

Mildred Boone Presnell, 86, of the Lower Browns Creek Community, went home to be with the Lord Sunday, May 12, 2019 at her home. A native of Yancey County, she was a daughter of the late Joe and Mae Burleson Boone. She was preceded in death by her husband, Thad Presnell, who passed away in 1969; a sister, Gladys Bartlett; and brothers, Lawrence and Ray Boone.  Mildred worked at Ellen’s Knitting for more than 35 years and enjoyed working in her garden.

Surviving is her friend and companion of 48 years, Charles Miller; daughters, Elizabeth Presnell Ray and Tony, of Lower Browns Creek, and Angela Presnell Burleson and husband, Tommy, of Newdale; four grandsons, Randy Wilson (Jill) of Bowditch, Rodney Wilson, of Lower Browns Creek, Tyler Nash (Lana), of Lisbon, Connecticut, and Joseph Nash, of Spruce Pine; six great-grandchildren, Layla, Callie, Ava, Burklee, John and Alivia; siblings, Ruby Putman, of Crabtree, Paul Boone, and wife, Emma, of Buckhill, and Margaret Greene, and husband, Chuck, of Arbuckle; and sisters-in-law, Flora Ann Boone and Edna Boone. Several nieces and nephews also survive.  

Funeral services were 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, in the Chapel of Yancey Funeral Services.  The Rev. William Ellis officiated. Burial followed in the Liberty Hill Baptist Church Cemetery. The family received friends from 2-4 p.m. prior to the service at the funeral home.  

The family would like to say a very special thank you to Hospice and Palliative Care of the Blue Ridge for the wonderful care of Mildred and support to the family.  

Visit to send online condolences.

Mitchell News-Journal • May 22, 2019



Wilkie Rathbone

Wilkie Charles Rathbone, 88, of Morganton, passed from this life to meet his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Saturday, May 11, 2019. Born Sept. 5, 1930, in Bakersville, he was the son of the late George Rathbone and Bessie McKinney Rathbone. 

In addition to his parents, Wilkie was preceded in death by his wife and love of his life, Meredith Juanita Bradley Rathbone; sisters, Cleo Wilson and Gladys Jones; and brother, Emory Rathbone. He is survived by two daughters, Camille Carswell and LaWanda Willis, of Morganton; a son-in-law, Todd Carswell ,of Morganton; and four grandchildren, Hillary Yarbrough, and husband, Joseph, of Valdese, Alyssa Willis, of Morganton, Andrew Carswell, of Morganton, and Dalton Willis, of Morganton. Wilkie is also survived by his great-grandson, Kellin Yarbrough; and great-granddaughter, Selah Yarbrough; brother, Orlie Rathbone, of Bakersville; sisters, Trula Gardner, of Bakersville, Rosalee Ledford, of Spruce Pine, Brenda Freeman, of Marion, Georgia Riddle, of Burnsville, and June Frye, of Spruce Pine; brothers- and sisters-in-law and a number of nieces and nephews. 

Wilkie joined the U.S. Army in 1952 and served in Company C 38th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. He received the Korean Service Medal with one bronze service star, the United Nations Service Medal, and a Combat Infantry Badge for his service on the front lines. He married Juanita Bradley Rathbone, June 29, 1957, at Beaver Creek Baptist Church in Spruce Pine. They worked at American Thread and moved to Marion. They moved to Morganton in 1966 after Wilkie was hired as shipping manager at Highlander Textile Plant. They lived in Morganton for 49 years in the Brentwood Development while he worked as a machinist at Great Lakes Carbon and Rexnord until he retired. Wilkie and Juanita kept foster children for several years, were faithful to the Lord and His church and helped many with their clothing ministry. 

His greatest joys were attending Burkemont Baptist Church, fishing, listening to and singing gospel music, and spending time with family and his Sunday school class at Burkemont. Wilkie and Juanita moved to Springs of Catawba Assisted Living in Hickory in January 2014, and lived there until moving into Memory Care at the Garden Place at Carillon of Newton in April 2016. In March 2018 he moved to the memory care unit of the NC State Veterans Home in Black Mountain. He enjoyed listening to and singing the gospel songs he loved with his family, and was very appreciative of all who attended him. Thank you to all who visited and spent time with him while in assisted living and memory care. The family would also like to thank the ministerial staff of Burkemont Baptist Church, Lou Lovelace’s Sunday School Class at Burkemont, the staff at Springs of Catawba Assisted Living, Dr. Isabelle Eustice, Dr. Charles Davis, Robert and Tammi Brown, the staff at Carillon of Newton, and all of the staff at the NC State Veterans Home in Black Mountain for their loving care of Wilkie. 

The family received friends from 4:30-5:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 14, 2019, at Burkemont Baptist Church. The funeral was at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the church with Dr. David Mills officiating. Burial followed in the church cemetery, with military honors provided by the NC National Guard and the Caldwell County Veterans Honor Guard. Memorial contributions may be made to the Good Samaritan Clinic in Morganton or Gerald Wolfe’s “Operation Sing Again” at Sossoman Funeral Home and Crematory Center is assisting the family with the arrangements. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting

Mitchell News-Journal • May 22, 2019

The MItchell News

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