OBITUARIES: Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018

Ray Burleson

Ray Burleson, 63, passed away Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, at his residence.

Born Feb. 28, 1955, in Mitchell County, he was the son of the late Phillip Burleson. In addition to his father, he was also preceded in death by two brothers, Allen and Michael Burleson.

Ray was a graduate of Harris High School. As a Harris Blue Devil, he set several career records in football and track. He also was an avid golfer.

Left to cherish his memories are his wife, Deborah Worley Burleson; his son, Logan Burleson, and wife, Shannan, of Spruce Pine; his stepdaughter, Marche’ White, and husband, Robbie, of Old Fort; his mother, Shirley Church, of Hudson; his grandchildren, Lawsyn Burleson, Elijah Burleson, Grayson Burleson, Haven Burleson and Kristianna Elliot; and several stepbrothers and stepsisters.

The family respectfully requests the honor of your presence at the memorial service honoring the life of Ray Burleson at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in the Chapel of Webb Funeral Home with the John and Ann Shortinghouse officiating.  

Words of comfort may be emailed to the family by going to, selecting Ray Burleson’s name and signing his guestbook. Webb Funeral Home of Spruce Pine is honored to assist the Burleson family. Ray’s obituary has also been posted on Facebook.

Mitchell News-Journal • Sept. 19, 2018


Ricky Butler

Ricky Lee Butler, 58, of Spring Creek Road, Bakersville, went home to be with the Lord Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Ricky is the son of Garland Butler and the late Janice Buchanan Butler. Ricky lived most of his adult life in Unicoi County with his first wife, Jackie Cooper Butler, and then moved back to the Spring Creek Community with his second wife, Jackie Roberta Butler, for the past four years.

He was a member of the Spring Creek Baptist Church. Ricky was employed by D&B Conveyor Systems in Savannah, Georgia. He was previously a captain in the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department, a Unicoi County Commissioner and a Unicoi County School Board member. He was a Mason at Unicoi Masonic Lodge and was a former business owner with his former wife, Jackie Cooper Butler, at Jerry’s Market.

In addition to his mother, Ricky is also preceded in death by his grandson, Tristan Gabriel Harris; two brothers, Randy Yelton and Doug Butler; grandparents, Thomas and Omie Butler, and Clifford and Goldie Buchanan; step-grandmother, Hettie Buchanan; in-laws, George and Trula Cooper; and brothers-in-law, Rick Pate and John Hyatt.

Rick leaves behind to cherish his love and memory his wife and best friend, Jackie Roberta Butler; previous wife and friend, Jackie Cooper Butler; daughters, Heather Butler (Tim Harris) and Tiffany Butler (Kevin Briggs); stepson, Robert Gillis Jr.; grandchildren, Kaedan Davis, Kennidee Davis, Jaci Briggs and soon-to-be-born grandchild, Ryker Harris; sister, Tammy Miller (Rick); father and stepmother, Garland Butler (Helen); father-in-law, Mack Sneyd; mother and father-in-law, Ruthie and Ted Hyatt; sisters-in-law, Connie Pate, Marilyn Garland, Louvella Moffitt, Jenifer Tipton and Heather Sneyd; brother and sister-in-law, Timothy and Jessica Bradshaw; brother-in-law, Teddy Hyatt; grandfather-in-law, Tom Garland; numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends; special brothers, Kent Harris and John Slaughter; and special sons, Shannon Yelton and Jason Tilson.

Funeral services were 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at Spring Creek Baptist Church with Bob McCurry and Andy Patterson officiating. The family received friends three hours before the service. Interment was at Butler Cemetery. The family would like to say a special thanks to Bob McCurry (Spring Creek Baptist Church), Andy Patterson (Trinity Freewill Baptist Church), Kevin Laws (Southside Freewill Baptist Church) and Bart Deyton (Liberty Chapel) for praying with Rick and family and friends at the hospital, and all our family and friends for prayers, calls, messages, visits and help.

Pallbearers were Shannon Yelton, John Slaughter, Kent Harris, Jason Tilson, Cody Miller, Dustin Miller, Kevin Briggs, Tim Harris, Rodney Butler, Scotty Butler, David Butler, Kaedan Davis and Robert Gillis Jr. Honorary pallbearers were Mack Butler, Carl Butler, Howard Butler, Mack Sneyd, Ricky Miller, Charles Banks, Ron Arnold, Kenny Woods, Daryl Woods, Bill Hyder, Bill Bailey, Tedd Hyatt and David Harris. 

Memorials may be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, ATTN: Office of Development, 2900 N. Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607 or Kari’s Heart Foundation, 701 N. State of Franklin Road, Suite 2, Johnson City, TN 37604.

Henline-Hughes Funeral Home is assisting the Butler Family.

Mitchell News-Journal • Sept. 19, 2018


Wilma Heaton

Wilma Greene Heaton, 95, of Avery County, passed away Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2018.

She was the daughter of the late Gertrude Rhyne Greene and Thomas Greene.

Wilma worked for 50 years for Tar Heel Mica and Spruce Pine Mica companies. She found her heart’s joy volunteering to keep the nursery and teach Sunday School at Pine Grove United Methodist Church for decades. Wilma loved to cook, bake, can and spoil children, continuing to do so until last week. 

Among those welcoming Wilma into heaven were her parents; sister, Ruth G. Houston; husband, Sam L. Heaton; and daughter and son-in-law, Truda H. and Dan S. Murchison; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, J. Myron Houston, Ted T. Ollis, Anna Lee and Glenn Baird, and Wilt and Rose Heaton; nephew, Thomas J. Houston; and niece, Gloria Houston.

Survivors include granddaughter, Samantha Murchison; sister-in-law, Lottie Ollis; nephews and nieces, Jerry and Cheryl Houston, Linda Taylor, Denise and George Pittman, Glenda and Butch Pittman, Barbara Massey, Roberta and Alan Phipps, and Patty and Al Brennan; and a multitude of extended family and friends, all of whom she loved dearly.

The family respectfully requests the honor of your presence at the funeral service honoring the life of Wilma Heaton at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, at Pine Grove United Methodist Church with the Revs. Ken Anderson and John Howard officiating. The family will receive friends from 2-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, at Pine Grove United Methodist Church. Interment will follow in the Pine Grove United Methodist Church Cemetery.

To know Wilma Heaton was to know love. While flowers will be appreciated, those wishing to honor Wilma may send memorials to the Pine Grove Cemetery Fund, 53 Pine Grove Road, Spruce Pine, NC 28777 or Yellow Mountain Cemetery Fund, 5125 S US 19E Hwy, Plumtree, NC 28664.

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

Mitchell News-Journal • Sept. 19, 2018


Mary Higgins

Mary Elizabeth Stockton Higgins, 82, of the Pleasant Gap Community, went home to be with the Lord Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, at her home surrounded by the love of her family. Mary was born in Mitchell County to the late Earl and Bessie McKinney Stockton. In addition to her parents, she was also preceded in death by her sister, Kathleen Silvers. 

Mary was a member of Morning Star Baptist Church and also enjoyed watching Ralph Sexton’s preaching on television. She could grow anything and loved working in her garden with her beautiful flowers. Mary loved being a grandmother and adored her sweet grandchildren. She will be dearly missed by all those fortunate enough to have known her.

Left to cherish her memories are husband of 55 years, Donald W. Higgins; son, Randy Higgins, and his wife, Fredia, of Candler; daughter, June Elkins, and her husband, Russell, of Burnsville; grandchildren, Brittany and Lauren Higgins and Austin, Blake and Sarah Elkins; brother, Jay Stockton, and his wife, Jacqueline, of Bad Creek; and sister, Wilma Garland. Several nieces, nephews and extended family members also survive. 

Funeral services were 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, in the chapel of Yancey Funeral Services. Her grandson, Brother Austin Elkins, and Brother Billy Mitchell officiated. The family received friends from 6-7:30 p.m. before services at the funeral home. Graveside services were 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at Morning Star Baptist Church Cemetery. Online condolences may be made to the family at  

Mitchell News-Journal • Sept. 19, 2018


Linda Hughes

Linda Sue Hughes, 81, of the Rebels Creek Community, passed away Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. A native of Mitchell County, she was the daughter of the late Taft and June Jarrett Burnette. Linda was a homemaker, registered nurse and the former business manager for Mayland Enterprise (a regional resin distribution company). She was also a member of the Rebels Creek Baptist Church.

Linda is survived by her husband, Richard Hughes; her son, Richard Hughes Jr., and wife, Christi, of Hendersonville; her daughter, Jill Suzanne Curcio, and husband, John, of Los Altos, California; sister, Rosie Silver, and husband, Doug, of Bakersville; and brothers, David Burnette, of Trinity, and Roger Burnette, of Chesnee, South Carolina. Five grandchildren also survive her.

The family received friends from 7-9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, in the chapel of Henline-Hughes Funeral Home. Graveside services were 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, in the Bakersville Memorial Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are requested to be sent to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001.

Henline-Hughes Funeral Home is assisting the Hughes Family.

Mitchell News-Journal • Sept. 19, 2018


Jerry McMahan

Jerry McMahan, of Bakersville, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home, the family homeplace in the Clarrissa Community Sept. 7, 2018. Jerry was a beloved son, husband, father, uncle and paw-paw. He was a brother to many in the community. Strong in his faith, his life was a living testimony for his many friends and family. 

Jerry was born Oct. 19, 1955, to the late Paul McMahan and Josie McKinney McMahan, in the Young Cove.

Jerry attended Gouge Elementary and graduated from Bowman High School in 1974. He played football for Bowman and remained an avid fan of Mitchell High School football teams through the years. He was a lifelong member of Roan Mountain Church and loved and valued his church family.

Jerry’s working career began in high school as a bus driver for Bowman, and he worked second shift at American Thread during his senior year. After school, he worked several years with his father trucking produce out of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina back to the Columbia and Asheville farmers’ markets. They later began splitting and selling locust posts before establishing McMahan Logging, initially working with Will and Ed Buchanan using horses to pull lumber. At the time of his death, he and his son Justin continued to operate as McMahan Logging.

Jerry also spent years as a long-distance truck driver. He drove for Charles Morris, Dennis Burleson, Dwight Thomas and Joe Grindstaff.

Jerry enjoyed car racing, hunting and fishing, especially the fishing trips he made to Ennis, Montana, with his good friends Scotty Gouge, Ricky Ayres, Lloyd Hise and Doug Young.

Jerry was preceded in death by his cousins, Maurice Ayres, Keith Whitaker and Ashley Pyrtle; also by his friends, Kenneth Pitman, Ron Speagle, Keith Woody and Joey Dunn.

Jerry is survived by his wife, Karen McMahan; children, Justin McMahan, and wife Caitlin, Lisa Riddle and husband, Cleve, and Kenny Geouge and wife, Ava; grandchildren, Isaiah, Peyton and Andy; sister, Paulette McMahan, and husband, John Lara; nieces, Ashley Smith-Stowe and Josie Davis; and grand-nephews ,Stowe and Rowan.

Services for Jerry were Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, at Roan Mountain Church on Cane Creek Road with Mark McKinney and Tim Fowler officiating. 

Pallbearers were Jim Benfield, Scotty Gouge, Jerry Griffith, Joe McKinney, Steve McKinney, James McKinney, Denny and David Buchanan. 

Interment followed in the McMahan Family Cemetery. 

The MItchell News

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