Russell Evans Bennett, Jr. ’47

Russell Evans Bennett Jr. was born in Cheraw, S.C., on April 7, 1926, and died Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. He was 96 years old. He was the son of the late Russell Evans and Mary Ella Gandy Bennett. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his daughter and son-in-law, Leslie and Ricky Fetner, of Rockingham; son, Russell Evans Bennett III, of Rockingham; and his brother, Robert (Bob) Bennett, of Cheraw, S.C.

Surviving are his loving wife, Joan Ramsey Bennett, of Penick Village, Southern Pines; stepchildren, Susan Wood and husband, David, of Pinehurst, Adam Hardison, of Charlotte, Bryan Hardison, of Charlotte, Julie Sullivan, of Orlando, Fla., Carol Hardison, of Taos, N.M.; and their children and grandchildren; nephews, Robby Bennett and wife, Lindsay, of Cheraw, S.C., Paul Bennett, of Cheraw, S.C., Mac Bennett and wife, Leslie, of Beaufort, S.C.; and their children and grandchildren.

Russell graduated from Cheraw High School and attended Davidson College prior to going into the U.S. Navy, during World War II. Following his naval service, he attended the University of South Carolina.

In 1947, he went into the automobile business with his father. In 1948, he was awarded a Chevrolet-Buick franchise by General Motors in Hamlet. At that time, he was the youngest person to be awarded a General Motors franchise. In 1949, Russell opened a new Chevrolet dealership in Rockingham. Russell was a franchised dealer for over 48 years, during which time he was active in the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, serving four terms as a director and served as treasurer. He served on numerous dealer factory planning committees with Chevrolet and Buick. Russell always enjoyed a close relationship with the employees of his dealership. He referred to the employees as “working with them” and not working “for him.” He sold his dealership in 1996.

Russell felt strongly that one should give something back to his community. He became involved in philanthropy both personally and through foundations. He was a benefactor of Richmond Community College, significantly the Cole Auditorium and Grimsley Health and Science building. He served multiple terms on the Richmond Community College Foundation Board.

He gave generously of his time to Richmond Memorial Hospital, later to become FirstHealth Richmond Memorial. He first joined the hospital board in 1950, and served many terms as a trustee and served as chairman for several terms. In 2005, he was honored by the North Carolina Hospital Association as their Trustee of the Year and was presented their Trustee Merit award.

Russell served on the board of Foundation for the Carolinas, in Charlotte. He served on the advisory board and was chair of the Cole Foundation. He also served on the board of the Richmond Community Foundation, where he also served as chairman. Both Foundations serve the needs of the people of Richmond County and played a major role in helping bring Discovery Place Kids to Rockingham.

After FirstHealth of the Carolinas bought Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham, Russell was elected to the FirstHealth Board of Directors and when his terms expired, he was elected to the board of trustees of the Foundation of FirstHealth. He was a member of The Scroll Society of the Foundation of FirstHealth.

Russell was active in the civic life of Rockingham. He joined the Rockingham Rotary Club in 1950, and served numerous terms as a director and served as its president in 1957-1958. At one time, he enjoyed a perfect attendance for five consecutive years of Rotary. He was honored by fellow Rotarians as a Distinguished Rotarian. He was a Paul Harris Fellow and was a Rotary benefactor.

Russell served on the Rockingham City Council from 1957-59.

Russell was involved in other businesses, and especially involved with the Richmond Savings Bank prior to its merger with First National Bank. He served as a director of that bank for 25 years. Russell served as director of Farmers Bank and Trust, later Southern National Bank. He served on The First Union Bank Advisory Board.

Russell was honored by the Richmond Community College as their Distinguished Citizen of Year award in 1997.

He was honored by the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce for their Citizen of the Year award in 1998.

Russell was awarded The Order of The Long Leaf Pine in 2013 by Governor Pat McCrory.

Russell was a lifelong Presbyterian. He served his church as an elder, deacon and men’s Bible class Sunday School teacher. He served on the Building and Planning Committee when the sanctuary of the Rockingham Presbyterian Church was built.

Russell was a member of Pinehurst Country Club and a former member of The Country Club of North Carolina, where he enjoyed many years of playing golf. He looked forward to attending the Masters for many years with wife, Joan, brothers-in-law, Claude Ramsey and his wife, Kay, of Asheville, and Jimmy Ramsey and his wife, Gretchen, of Tupelo, Miss. He enjoyed time spent at their home in Pawley’s Island and later at Litchfield by the Sea and Country Club with family and friends. He also enjoyed traveling with family and friends.

To the next generation of leaders and philanthropists, Russell always said, “Don’t stand in the wings. Come forward. Become part of your community in whatever way you think best. Say, I have something to offer and I’m willing to offer it. I’m going to participate to make things better.”

The family of Russell Bennett would like to thank Penick Village, FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital and FirstHealth Hospice for their assistance in his loving care. We would like to thank Russell for always being there for us and all his love. We were all so blessed to be a part of his life. He was a true Southern Gentleman who was loved by all.

A memorial service to celebrate Russell will be held on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 2 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church, Rockingham, led by Dr. Allison Farrah. The family will receive friends in the fellowship hall following the service.

Memorials may be made to Foundation of First Health and First Health Outpatient Comprehensive Cancer Center, 150 Applecross Road, Pinehurst, NC 28374; FirstHealth Hospice, 150 Applecross Road, Pinehurst, NC 28374; First Presbyterian Church, 904 Fayetteville Road, Rockingham, NC 28379; or Richmond Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 1189, Hamlet, NC 28345

Rufus Alexander Long ’47

Rufus Alexander Long was born on June 30, 1923 on the outskirts of West Jefferson (Ashe County), NC to Flora Goodman and George Long. After a full and rich life, he passed away peacefully surrounded by his children and a grandson in Black Mountain, NC on October 14, 2022.

He always proudly remembered his mountain upbringing as one of twelve children. Having spent several formative years at Barium Springs Presbyterian Home for Children (after losing his mother at the age of 5), he attended Davidson College.

He also served in the Army Air Corps for three years during WWII during his college years as well. During bootcamp, it was discovered that he couldn’t march in time, so he was sent to study communications and meteorology at Vanderbilt and Yale rather than infantry.

He met his “sweet wife” (as he continued to refer to her for the rest of his life), Margaret “Peggy” Bradford while walking up Kentucky Road in Montreat after college. After they married, he received an MBA from Wharton School of Business (UPenn) and maintained a career in banking in Charlotte, NC. He then joined the US Agency for International Development and served as a Foreign Service Office for 25 years taking his family of six children all over the world. He served in Ethiopia, Seoul, Korea, Saigon, Vietnam, Islamabad, Pakistan and Sanaa, North Yemen.

Through out his career and wherever he was in the world, he always maintained a garden and a pool membership. Upon arrival anywhere, he was quick to know where the closest church and closest pool were located and frequented both often. Several years after losing Peggy in 2009, he relocated from Falls Church, VA to Highland Farms (Black Mountain, NC). Rufus and Peggy spent summers and as much time as they could in Montreat. They always loved Montreat and enjoyed welcoming children, grandchildren and numerous friends to their home on South Carolina Terrace. He leaves a legacy of strong faith, hard work, support of education, curiosity about people, and much more.

He is survived by his six children, Zeb Bradford (LauraCole), George (Margie McFarlan), Lucy (Jack Santino), Eric (Bette Sheldon), Angela (Thomas Whippenbeck), Ruthann Eileen (Alfredo Farias) and eighteen grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. He also leaves numerous recipients of his generosity.

He will be honored and celebrated on Sunday, October 16, 2022 at 2pm at Christ Community Church.

Price Henderson Gwynn, III ’47

Price Henderson Gwynn, III, 99, retired business leader, community contributor and committed churchman died September, 28, 2022 at home in Sharon Towers in Charlotte, NC.

Price was born December 16, 1922 in Reidsville, NC where his father, Price, Jr., was superintendent of public schools and his mother, Elma Crutchfield, taught piano. He was educated at the Mount Herman School in Massachusetts and at Davidson College. While at Davidson, he played football, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, joined Sigma Phi Epsilon, was President of his academic class and graduated as salutatorian.

World War II interrupted his college years. Price served his country in the Pacific Theater of Operations with both the U.S. Army Infantry and Corps of Engineers and was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. In 1944, Price convinced the former Katherine Gilman Loy to become his bride. That happy union lasted sixty-eight years, ending with her death in 2012. The couple lived in Charlotte their whole lives.

Price was President of Package Products Company; President of Engraph, Inc. and Vice President of Lance, Inc. On more than one occasion, he said, “With a father, a grandfather, a brother-in-law and an uncle who were Presbyterian preachers, I had to consider the ministry, but I was called to the world of business. That is where I belong.”

Price served his community as a thirty year Trustee of Presbyterian Hospital and Presbyterian Health Services Corporation, six of those years as Chairman. He was a Trustee of Davidson College and Director of the Charlotte Country Club, Charlotte City Club, Charlotte Rotary Club, Piedmont Club and of Sharon Towers and the Family Support Center.

Price served his beloved Presbyterian Church at many local and national levels. In 1990, he was elected by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as its 202nd Moderator. He served as Chairman of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and as Trustee of St. Andrews Presbyterian College and of Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.

Price is survived by his three sons: Price Henderson (Chip) Gwynn, IV (Star), John Gilman Gwynn (Penny); and Kenneth Bruce Gwynn (Cynthia); and by his five grandchildren, Jason Gwynn (Stephanie); Ashley Gwynn; Amy Gwynn Schott (Jimmy); David Gwynn (Ivy); and Matthew Duncan Gwynn (Hannah); and by his three great-grandchildren: Chase Roberts, Piper Grace Gwynn and by the baby Amy and Jimmy are expecting very soon; and by a nephew, Bill and eight nieces: Mary Kay, Dunki, Eve, Mary Beth, Ginger, Carol, Kathy and Karen.

Price was preceded in death by his wife, Katherine, and by his twin sisters and their spouses, Betty Boyd (Howard) and Barbara Orloff (Ivan) and by his brother and sister in law: William Duncan Loy, Jr. and Mary Steele Loy.

The family joins “Mr. Price” in praising and thanking all of the devoted nurses and staff on the Health Care floor at Sharon Towers for their wonderful, gracious and loving care.

A memorial service will be held at 3:00pm, October 8, 2022 at Steele Creek Presbyterian Church at Pleasant Hill, 15000 York Road, Charlotte, NC 28278. Interment will follow the service at the original Steele Creek Presbyterian Church cemetery. The family will receive friends at the Church at 2:00pm before the service.

Memorials may be sent to Steele Creek Presbyterian Church at Pleasant Hill, to Sharon Towers Residents Fund, to Union Theological Seminary at Charlotte or to the charity of the donor’s choice. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Gwynn family.

Bryan Livingston Blackwell ’47

Hartsville — Bryan Livingston Blackwell went home to meet his Lord and Savior on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Florence, SC, at 96 years of age. Born in Hartsville, South Carolina, on June 25, 1925, he was the son of Barney Edward Blackwell and Maggie Lee Rogers Blackwell, as well as Anna Jane Berry Blackwell, who became his mother at the age of three after Maggie died. He was forever grateful to Anna Jane for becoming his mother.

Bryan was a graduate of Hartsville High School, class of 1942, and a graduate of Davidson College, class of 1947, with a BS in Economics. While at Davidson, he studied voice with Earl Berg and Dr. James Christian Pfohl, the founder of Brevard Music Center. There he was a member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity. Bryan built his career as a rural mail carrier with the United States Postal Service on Route 4 and as choir director for Sardis Baptist Church (Timmonsville, SC) and Swift Creek Baptist Church. He also served as tenor soloist for performances of Handel’s Messiah throughout the region. Additionally, Bryan was a highly respected soloist for weddings and funerals.

A lifelong lover of music and an accomplished operatic tenor, Bryan began his musical career with the First Baptist Church Choir of Hartsville. He went on to sing with the Davidson College Glee Club and as a featured soloist on local radio stations WJMX in Florence and WHSC in Hartsville with his own weekly programs. He appeared as Bob in the opera The Old Maid and the Thief at Coker College. Other musical highlights include being one of eight members of the prestigious Montreat Presbyterian Conference Center Choir under the direction of Dr. Austin C. Lovelace and working as a music counselor at the Brevard Music Center (Brevard, NC) in the 1940s.

Bryan began dating the love of his life Martha Ann Anderson Blackwell, a student at Coker College while singing at a Boy Scout banquet when he asked Martha Ann to be his accompanist. This led to a proposal at Prestwood Country Club, and the two were married on September 2, 1950. For over 71 years of marriage, they were inseparable and were a devoted, loving couple.

A devout Christian, Bryan was an upstanding member of the Hartsville community. He led Sunday School Opening Assembly music at First Baptist Church and was a member of the Men’s Sunday School Class. In his later years, he and Martha Ann also attended worship service at First Presbyterian, Hartsville. Bryan was a member of Civitan International being named Hartsville Civitan of the Year (1996 – 1997), Outstanding Carrier of the Year by the South Carolina Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (1984), and Treasurer of the South Carolina Association of Music Clubs for 22 years. He was proud to be a Life Member of the National Federation of Music Clubs. He was recognized by the South Carolina Federation of Music Clubs in 1984 for his many years of service. In his earlier years, he attended many state and national Rural Letter Carrier Conventions.

Bryan loved pulling for the Hartsville Red Foxes, Davidson Wildcats, Duke Blue Devils, and San Francisco Giants. He enjoyed watching baseball, basketball, and football on TV while cheering his teams on throughout the regular and postseason play. He loved reading and was a student of history as well as family genealogy and sports trivia. Bryan could be found most of the time working in his yard until age 92, riding his lawnmower, pulling weeds, and growing tomatoes. He liked dogs and cats, feeding songbirds, playing with his children and grandchildren during their childhoods, and valued spending time with his family. Bryan had a great sense of direction and knew how to navigate anywhere before a GPS and smartphones were invented. He will be remembered for being honest, kind, and having moral integrity.

Bryan deeply loved his children, Joan and Barry, and relished taking his family on trips to see the beauty and majesty of America. Before his passing, Bryan traveled to 46 of the 50 states and also took vacations to Canada and Mexico. He had a deep appreciation for the Western landscape, especially Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks. He loved the Blue Ridge Mountains and annual family vacations to Sunset Beach, NC. He and Martha Ann’s golden years were spent traveling to the National Federation of Music Clubs Conventions throughout the USA. One of Bryan’s greatest joys in life was becoming a grandfather. He was a doting grandparent to his grandchildren Kimberly and Brent and with them he shared his love of music and history through summer trips to American historical sites.

He is survived by his wife of 71 years Martha Ann Anderson Blackwell; daughter, Joan Blackwell Hoover (Gary) of Aiken, SC; son, Barry Anderson Blackwell of Charlotte, NC; granddaughter, Kimberly Michelle Hoover of Aiken, SC; and grandson, Brent Michael Hoover of Aiken, SC, as well as several beloved nieces and nephews. In addition to being predeceased by his parents, he was predeceased by brothers, Lester Blackwell, Alton Blackwell; and sisters, Miriam Blackwell Myers and Martha Blackwell Martin. He was also predeceased by older brothers Cecil Blackwell and Barney E. Blackwell, Jr., who died in early childhood. Bryan was the last living member of his siblings.

Thank you to the many wonderful individuals who cared for Bryan at Southland Healthcare Center over the last two years. Visitation will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Brown-Pennington-Atkins Funeral Home on Friday, April 15, 2022. A Service to the Witness of the Resurrection will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. to celebrate Bryan’s life at First Presbyterian Church Hartsville. In memory of Bryan, please make a contribution to the Virgil and Alice Smith Music Scholarship at Coker College or a charity of one’s choice.

Published by SCNow on April 15, 2022.

Robert Orr “Bob” Freeman ’47

The Reverend Robert Orr Freeman of Salisbury, NC died on March 23, 2022 at the age of 96. He was born on November 16, 1925 in Memphis, TN the first son of Frances Orr and Rev. Daniel Ralph Freeman. He was born into a clergy family with a love of God and music where he learned to play the cornet as a boy, fashioning his life’s course.

He grew up in Pulaski County, VA, graduated from the small Draper High School in 1941 and then pursued college preparatory education at Fork Union Military Academy. He entered Davidson College in 1942, but his education was interrupted by service of 18 months in the US Navy as an Aviation Cadet from February 1944 to October 1945 preparing for the potential invasion of Japan near the end of the Second World War. He returned to Davidson after his discharge to graduate with a degree in music in 1947.

He moved to live with his aunt in Houston, TX where he attended Austin Presbyterian Seminary and served as an associate at the Highland Presbyterian Church. It was in Houston that he met his future wife, Mary Jane Tipton, who was pursuing her master’s degree in voice at the University of Houston. He married Jane on December 30, 1954 and they had two children: Elizabeth Jane and Robert Bruce. They were married for over 54 years, celebrating their 50th anniversary in Salisbury in 2004.

He had a lengthy and varied career as a Presbyterian minister, serving 56 years. After graduation from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA in 1957, he was ordained and served four pastorates in the Fayetteville, NC area: Ashpole, Philipi, Hope Mills and Westminster Presbyterian Churches from 1957 to 1971. He then moved to Charlotte, NC called to serve Commonwealth Eastminster Presbyterian Church, which later merged with Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church from 1971 to 1974. He then served as full time interim or supply pastor for numerous churches in NC, TN, and VA from 1974 to 1987. He came to Salisbury in 1987 called to be pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church from 1987 to 1992, retiring on December 31, 1992. He also served as choir director in many of the churches he pastored. After retirement he continued to pastor the community supporting part-time interim and stated supply of pastorates in Salem Presbytery, including Royal Oaks, Bethel, and Cleveland Presbyterian Churches and as a Parish Associate at Thyatira Presbyterian Church until 2013.

He continued to follow his life-long passion of liturgical and classical music, participating in many choral groups in the communities where he and his wife lived. They sang in so many choral groups over the years it would be virtually impossible to list them all. In Salisbury they were active in the Salisbury Concert Choir, Ecumenical Choir, and church choirs among others. Indeed, they were very grateful to God for giving them their ability to sing God’s praises for their entire lives. He was active in the Optimist International service clubs throughout his life, serving in clubs in Charlotte and Salisbury as president and ultimately as governor of the Western North Carolina region. He was awarded the Salisbury Community Development Corporation Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Humanitarian Award in 1998 in recognition of his many years of service to the community up to that time.

He was not only active in the Presbyterian Church USA, but also very active ecumenically representing the Mecklenburg and Salem Presbyteries in the World Council of Churches, North Carolina Council of Churches, Charlotte Area Clergy Association among many other international, national and local religious groups. He helped organize the May 1975 Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence bi-centennial celebration giving the invocation for those attending, including President Gerald Ford. While in Salisbury he was always active with Rowan Helping Ministries and other local ministerial associations as he thought it important to know and work with fellow ministers and community leaders.

He was always loyal to his alma mater, Davidson College, supporting the college in many ways over more than 60 years, not least of which being a men’s basketball season ticket holder for many years on and off from 1973 until 2019. He was also dedicated to the Democratic Party actively supporting policies that further democratic values and specifically helping form the North Carolina Senior Democrats group to support Democratic candidates.

He is predeceased by his wife Jane, brother, David, and his sister, Edith. He is survived by his children: Elizabeth Jane and Robert Bruce; grandchildren: Bryan, Christopher, John, and Matthew; and great-grandchildren: Echo, Jacy, and Jaxson.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Thyatira Presbyterian Church, Rowan Helping Ministries, or the Optimist International. Memorial service on Saturday, April 30th at 2:00pm at Thyatira Presbyterian Church and the interment on Sunday, May 1st at Steele Creek Historic Cemetery in a small service at a time TBD.