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.

Brown-Pennington-Atkins
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.

Thomas Vance “Tommy” Bumbarger ’47

Thomas Vance "Tommy" Bumbarger '47

Thomas “Tommy” Vance Bumbarger, 98, passed away Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, at Trinity Ridge in Hickory.

Born Sept. 28, 1923, in Hickory, he was the son of the late Paul William Bumbarger and Margaret Horan Bumbarger. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Lou McNeely Bumbarger; brothers, Paul William Bumbarger Jr., and Robert Bruce Bumbarger; and sister-in-law, Caroline Brown Bumbarger.

Tommy served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was a first lieutenant, having served in the European Theater of Operations, the 232nd Infantry Regiment and the 12th Infantry Division. He considered his greatest accomplishment risking his life hanging off the running board of a supply truck crossing the treacherous mountain pass of the Italian Alps to pick up barrels of liquor to bring back to the officers and enlisted men.

After the war, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Davidson College and The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His master’s thesis was titled “An Inquiry into the Determination of a More Useful Periodic Net Income Through the Use of the Last-In, First-Out Method of Pricing Inventories.” He alleged that this thesis was used by Wharton as a teaching tool for years.

After four years with Arthur Anderson Company in Atlanta, he returned to Hickory and started Thomas V. Bumbarger, CPA. He spent much of his time as a CPA specializing in raising capital for start-up businesses, many of which went on to great success.

He loved Hickory, and supported many civic organizations including Kiwanis and Rotary, and was named the 1957 Young Man of the Year by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. He was a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church in Hickory.

In 1972, he left the field of public accounting to go into the textile industry, where he went on to become one of the principals of Regal Manufacturing Company.

In his later years, he pursued various business interests. He retired in 1996, and moved to the Sharon community of Alexander County near Stony Point with his daughters and sons-in-law. The property was named “Belle Cow Farm” after a story involving a close friend who said Tommy was a bell cow. The bell cow is the lead cow that the rest of the herd follows, so that the herd can be easily located by the sound of the bell worn on her collar. There he became a self-taught farmer of sorts, enjoying time in the garden where he kept meticulous CPA quality production records, spending time on the tractor or wielding a chainsaw and building meticulously constructed bonfires.

One of his early passions was golf. He learned the game as a boy at the Lake Hickory Country Club Town Course when the greens were made of sand. He started the golf team at Hickory High School, and was a member of the golf team at Davidson. He was the 1940 North Carolina Junior Championship Runner-Up. He enjoyed a good $5.00 (and then some) Nassau bet, and participated in many local tournaments at Lake Hickory Country Club and Catawba Country Club. He was seven-time club champion at Catawba. He and his wife enjoyed many trips to the Masters as patrons, and he had the pleasure of playing the course at Augusta National many times.

He later played tennis, because as he would admit, he enjoyed the flattering outfits the lady tennis players wore, and it was a healthier sport that did not involve liquor and expensive wagers.

As an avid sports fan, he followed Davidson basketball passionately, especially during the Lefty Driesell years. He was proud to share that he was “ABC” all the way, fueled mostly by his intense dislike of a certain popular UNC coach and his four-corner offense.

He was a free spirit and approached life just a little differently than most would expect. He was outspoken and quick to share his thoughts and opinions, but he always lived by the impeccable manners and compassion his parents taught him. He leaves a legacy of stories from the golf course, spontaneous trips to Vegas or a good party. One of his last comments while at Trinity Ridge was “My favorite thing in the whole world is a pretty girl.” He believed in spontaneity and loved to do things like throw fireworks in the fireplace when no one was looking, or loading the car with children dressed in their Sunday best and heading to the nearest creek. Anyone who crossed his path probably has a story to tell, and many were the recipient of one of his unique nicknames.

He is survived by daughters, Susan Stancil and husband, Lynn, and Judy Allen and husband, Jack; grandson, Jack Preston Allen III, all of Stony Point; and sister-in-law, Sara Ward Bumbarger; plus many nieces and nephews.

He was quite fond of the Rudyard Kipling poem “If” which advocates the virtues he tried to live by, including integrity, perseverance, tolerance, determination and confidence. He often shared the final line of Horatio Spafford’s hymn “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.”

He was clear in his wish to not hold a funeral or formal service. The family plans to hold a celebration of life at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, feel free to raise a toast whenever he comes to mind or share a special story with his family. Remember his words “A good story should never be spoiled by sticking strictly to the truth.”

Memorials may be made to the Hickory Museum of Art at www.hickoryart.org; Montessori at Sandy Ford at montessoriatsandyford.org; one of our worthy local animal rescues such as Hartman’s Haven Dog Rescue at hartmanshaven.org; NC PAWS Cat Rescue at ncpawsrescue.org; or to the charity of your choice.

www.jenkinsfuneralhome.net


Published by Hickory Daily Record on Nov. 16, 2021.

Charles Edward Ratliff, Jr. ’47

Charles Edward Ratliff, Jr. '47

Charles Edward Ratliff, Jr., 94, died March 17, 2021.

He was born October 13, 1926 in Morven, NC to Charles Edward Ratliff, Sr. and Mary Katherine Ratliff.

The son of a cotton farmer, he graduated from Davidson College in 1947 and earned his PhD from Duke University.   He served as an Aviation Supply Officer in the US Navy from 1944-46.  

One of the longest-tenured members of the Davidson College faculty, he taught Economics, spanning six decades, from 1947 until his retirement in 1992.  He devoted his life to teaching and serving others, for four years in the 1960s, he served as an educational missionary at Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan. 

Seeing the abject poverty in Pakistan led him to his involvement in many non-profit organizations including:  Habitat for Humanity, CROP, the Davidson Housing Coalition, Bread for the World, Mecklenburg Ministries, and Rural Advancement/National Sharecroppers Fund. 

He was very active in the Davidson United Methodist Church serving on numerous conference boards.

Following retirement, he and wife Mary Virginia moved to Florida Presbyterian Homes in Lakeland Florida, joining many of their close friends from their days in Pakistan.

He was preceded in death by his wife Mary Virginia.

Survivors include his wife Ruth Miller and his children, Alice, Kate, John and his wife Kathy, and four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be at a later date.

Memorials may be made to Davidson Housing Coalition or the Ratliff Endowment for Economics at Davidson College.

John Erle McDonald, Jr. ’47

John Erle McDonald, Jr. died as he lived, in the hope of the resurrection of the dead in the Lord Jesus Christ.

A native and long-time resident of North Carolina, he served in the US Navy during World War II.

Post-war, he attended Davidson College and the University of Michigan law school. Upon graduation, he served as an FBI agent. After a long career as an attorney in Charlotte, NC, John taught business law at UNC-C.

At age 94, he died of COVID-19. John was predeceased by his beloved wife of 70 years, Aileen (Earp) McDonald, and is survived by three children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

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