William Thomas “Tom” Poston ’49

Dr. William Thomas Poston, 100, of Statesville, passed away Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at Gordon Hospice House.

Tom was born May 5, 1921, to the late Henry Alexander Poston and Annie Adams Poston. He was the seventh of eight children. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Nancy Brawley Poston; son, William Thomas Poston Jr. He was also preceded in death by his second wife of four years, Madge Kestler Poston; and brothers and sisters, Howard, Hoy, Henry Harold, Kenneth, Banks, Faye and Mary.

Tom is survived by his daughter, Carolyn Bartlett (Rick); son, Gary Poston (Darrell); grandchildren, Alex Elkins (Jack), Arik Bartlett (Tori), Landon Bartlett (Cassie); great-grandchildren, Paisley Bartlett, Aiden Bartlett, Amirra Elkins and baby Elkins on the way.

His family lived on Cemetery Street and his grandfather was the overseer at Oakwood Cemetery. Tom’s father worked 54 years at J.C. Steele & Sons. When the Depression hit, his family was forced to move into a smaller house and soon they lost that house too. They were forced to move to a home in the Shepherds community where there was no electricity or indoor plumbing. Tom had to do his schoolwork by kerosene lantern light. He was able to finish out his last years of high school by driving the family Model A Ford into town each day.

One of his first jobs, at age 15, was driving for Dr. James Davis, Davis Hospital namesake. He often reflected back on what a true privilege that was. After graduating from D. Matt Thompson High School as valedictorian in 1938, he married Nancy Brawley, beginning a union that spanned nearly 65 years until her death in 2004.

In 1942, Tom volunteered for the Army Air Force. He hoped to become a pilot, but due to colorblindness, he became an aircraft mechanic in the B-17 Flying Fortress Squadron. A sad experience for Tom and his family occurred in 1944, when his brother, Banks, was killed in Italy during the Battle of Anzio. He had only served in the Army for a few months. At the end of World War ll in 1945, Tom spent time in Hawaii as part of a G.I. chorus. He liked to tell the story that one of his fellow singers was John Mitchum, brother of actor Robert Mitchum. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force, Tom entered Davidson College where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Cum Laude in the spring of 1949, after just three years. He later received his master’s degree from Appalachian State University and in 1977, he earned his Doctorate in education from Duke University. Dr. Tom Poston began his career teaching science at Troutman High School. A few years later, he became principal at Brawley School and then was principal at Celeste Henkel School for 11 years. In 1964, Dr. Poston became assistant superintendent of Iredell County Schools and then served as superintendent from 1970 until his retirement in 1981.

One of Tom’s many passions was his work with the West Iredell Lions Club. He became a lion in March 1953 and helped charter the West Iredell Lions Club in 1957. He was recognized as the oldest Lions Club member in North Carolina at the time of his death. He has been recognized with many awards including a Jack Stickley Fellowship, Melvin Jones Fellowship, Lion of the Year, and had 50-plus years of perfect attendance. He has served the club as president, vice president, and chairman of many committees.

Tom was a great man of faith and loved his church and Methodist heritage. Tom served as a Sunday school teacher and sang in the choir at Bethlehem United Methodist Church for many decades alongside his wife Nancy, who played the organ. In years past, the church honored Tom and Nancy with Poston Fellowship Hall.

Family meant everything to Tom. He cherished the annual Adams’ Family Reunion and loved to reminisce about times past with family and friends. Tom also loved to tell a good joke and would often laugh so hard he could not get the punch line out. His stories, wit, smile and Godly example has been an inspiration to his family and will be greatly missed.

In Tom’s later years, one would often find him at the Statesville Historical Museum. He was a wealth of information for his good friend, Dr. Steve Hill, as they looked through pictures and memorabilia related to the history of Statesville. It was pure joy for Tom to share his many years of memories and love for Statesville and Iredell County with visitors to the museum.

Visitation with the family will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday, April 23, at Bethlehem United Methodist Church in the Family Life Center. Funeral service will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 24, at West Iredell High School. The Revs. Michael Flack and Olin Isenhour will be officiating along with Dr. Steve Hill. Military honors will be provided by the U.S. Air Force and the Iredell County Veterans Burial Detail. Graveside service will immediately follow at Bethlehem United Methodist Church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice of Iredell County, Bethlehem United Methodist Church or Statesville Historical Collection.

William C. “Bill” Brownson ’49

The Rev. Dr. William Clarence Brownson, Jr. entered peacefully into the presence of Jesus on April 1, 2022 in Holland, Michigan. Bill was born on June 27, 1928 in Charlotte, NC to William Clarence Brownson, Sr. and Juanita Clements Brownson. He received his A.B. from Davidson College, NC, his B.D. from Columbia Seminary, GA, and a doctorate in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ. Bill then served as pastor in two Reformed Church in America congregations, the first in Lodi, NJ, the second in Roseland, IL.

Bill and Helen moved to Holland, MI with their family in 1964 where Bill became Professor of Preaching at Western Theological Seminary. After seven happy years there, he became the radio preacher for Words of Hope in Grand Rapids, MI, where he finished his long and fruitful ministry in 1994. Bill’s passion in life was sharing the good news of Jesus to all he met and to the world. He and Helen made several trips to countries where Words of Hope was broadcast, and experienced great joy in meeting other Christians and sharing the Gospel. Bill and Helen were active members of Christ Memorial Church in Holland.

Bill authored many books, including The Plan Is God’s (1964), Tried by Fire (1972), Distinctive Lessons from Luke (1974), and Do You Believe? (1975). He and Helen wrote Billy and Dave: From Brokenness to Blessedness (2006) after the death of their son, David. In his retirement years, Bill frequently preached in churches in the area, and led Bible studies and prayer groups at Freedom Village in Holland, where he and Helen spent more than 20 years until their deaths.

Bill was devoted to his wife, children, and grandchildren, a cheerleader of all their endeavors. He extended this love and interest to everyone he met, asking about their lives, families, and of course if they knew and loved Jesus. He often offered to pray with and for them, and enjoyed hearing about how God answered those prayers.

Dr. Brownson was preceded in death by his sons Billy, who died in 1977, and David, who died in 2003, his dear wife, Helen Stewart Brownson, who died in 2015, and sister Jean Vivian Brownson Ribble. Bill is survived by his sons James Brownson (Kathryn Mostrom Brownson) and Jonathan Brownson (Jeannette Shafer Brownson), grandchildren, Rachel Brownson Brazier (LJ Brazier), Anna Brownson Prinz (Mark Prinz), Benjamin Brownson, Joanna Brownson Humphries (Elizabeth Brownson Humphries), William Brownson (Michael Hairston Brownson), Samuel Brownson (Rozina Kidari), two great-grandchildren, Wren Brownson Prinz and Baby Kieren, and sister-in-law Florence Stewart Brown. He will also be dearly missed by special friend, Jayne VerLee.

The funeral will be held on May 16, 2022 at 11:00 A.M. at Christ Memorial Church in Holland, 595 Graafschap Rd. Visitation with the family will be on May 15, from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. at the Langeland-Sterenberg Funeral Home, 315 E. 16th St., Holland, and before the service at Christ Memorial Church, from 9:30 to 10:30 A.M. A luncheon will follow. After local services are complete, burial will be in the Alamo Memorial Cemetery in Alamo, GA.

Donations in William’s honor may be made to Words of Hope, Western Theological Seminary, or Christ Memorial Church. Condolences may be left online at www.langelandsterenberg.com.

Abel McIver “Mac” Hart ’49

Rev. Abel McIver “Mac” Hart, 93, of Black Mountain, NC passed away on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 at Givens Highland Farms.

Born August 19, 1928 in Staunton, VA, he was a son of the late Freeman H. and Jean Fraser Hart. As a teenager, Mac was an Eagle Scout and later served as a Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America. Mac was an alumnus of both Davidson College where he received a B.A. in English in 1949, and Columbia Theological Seminary where he received a M.A. of Divinity in 1953.

Rev. Hart was an ordained Presbyterian minister and he served as general presbyter for Hanover Presbytery in Richmond, VA from 1968 to 1974, and as executive presbyter for Grace Presbytery in Dallas, TX from 1974-1993. In addition, he was pastor at churches in Fayette, MS, Wynne, AR, and Meridian, MS, and served as Associate Pastor at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, AR. Even after retirement, he held interim pastorates in Rocky Mount, NC and York, SC. He was a member of Black Mountain Presbyterian Church.

As part of a lifelong commitment to social justice and his Christian values, Mac volunteered to help the needy and to register voters in Henderson and Buncombe counties. He also enjoyed relaxing with a good book, a historical map, or genealogical research.

In addition to his parents, Mac was preceded in death by his beloved spouse, Muriel Gear Hart; brother, James Wilson Hart; brother-in-law, Richard Gear; brother-in-law, Robert Dickey; and sister-in-law, Meredith Hart. Surviving are his children, David M. Hart of Amherst, MA, Felix A. Hart and his spouse, Elizabeth, of Kent, WA, J. Gary Hart of Austin, TX, F. Elizabeth Hart of Mansfield Center, CT, Douglas B. Goldenberg-Hart and his spouse, Diane, of Silver Spring, MD; siblings, Fraser Hart, of Madison, WI, David E. Hart and his spouse, Rachel, of Charlotte, NC, and Jean B. Dickey, of Takoma Park, MD, and sister-in-law, Jean C. Hart of Gainesville, FL; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church at a later date. Mac and Muriel’s cremains will be deposited together at Montreat Memorial Gardens.

Condolences may be made to the family at www.PenlandFamilyFuneralHome.com. Penland Family Funeral Home is honored to assist the Hart Family at this time.

Thomas F. “Tom” Clark ’49

Thomas F. "Tom" Clark '49

Just like his famous figurine sculptures, Dr. Thomas F. Clark reached his final Retirement Tier Friday, January 14, 2022 at 9:26am.

Dr. Clark was a great teacher. He taught and performed and challenged and charmed us in the classroom at Davidson College, and then parlayed that experience and knowledge into his sculpting which won him international acclaim. Although small in stature, in reality, he was larger than life. Even in the very first year of his career as the “Gnome man” he was acclaimed by one of the most prestigious publications in the figurine industry to be “Already bigger than Norman Rockwell – an American Treasure”.

At prestigious Davidson College he was very simply one of the most popular professors ever to walk the halls and enlighten the classrooms of the iconic Chambers Building. In the classroom his performances were the eclectic mix of William Shakespeare, Don Quixote and Woody Allen. For some it was pure academic delight; for others a life changing experience, but for all it was more entertainment than anything else AND it was Great Entertainment. He knew every student by their full name and quite a bit about each individual. And more than anything else wanted to be your friend as well as your mentor. He always had impeccable manners and always knew the right thing to say – never condescending – and was always positive and encouraging in his associations with students and later the collectors of his artworks.

Dr. Thomas Fetzer Clark, a.k.a. Tom Clark, a.k.a. T-Bird Tommy, spent his life entertaining and enlightening literally millions of people, first as a kindly sought-after professor of religion, then as American Artist extraordinaire, producing thousands of sculptures and hosting hundreds of artists appearances worldwide.

That he retained his generous, courteous charm and charisma through such dedicated expense of his time is a great tribute to his selfless devotion to his Art and his Public. No one worked as hard as Tom Clark. He was a demanding task master. His labor of love brought him to collectors during the weekends and to a sculpting table during the week. Friday through Saturday, meeting collectors, signing statues; Monday through Friday (with a rare week off here and there) at his easel creating hundreds of artworks. “I work very hard.
Sometimes I feel the collector doesn’t quite understand just what it takes to do what I do – the sculpting and the personal appearances. But that is OK. I have often said it has taken me a lifetime to create any one sculpture. I am very pleased that in my life, I have been able to give something of myself particularly my philosophy that basically we are all part of the same world and ALL good at heart. To be aware that so many people are pleased to receive my work is the most reward in life I need. For people not to know what it really took to get here, it doesn’t matter.”

The least self-promoting individual ever encountered, it is like him, no it is him to be generous sharing his success with Cairn Studio and his adoring collector following. To be gracious and generous was as integral a part of Tom Clark as was his great talent. He would have it no other way and every wonderful sculpture he produced was a reflection of the attitude, the art, and the man.

Dr. Clark had more registered collectors and a larger following than probably any other sculptor in the world today, and, as a lasting and fitting tribute to his great talent and success, was featured in literally thousands of newspapers, journals, magazines, and other periodicals as well as, numerous radio and television features.

As far as accomplishments and accolades are concerned there are far too many to list here and they never were that big a part of this very humble man.

We are all going to miss Tom Clark, his warm and gracious attitude, his spirituality and his self-deprecating wit and humor – But the legend lives on!

Robert Orr “Bob” Crawford ’49

Dr. Robert O. Crawford, Jr., (Bob, or “Doc” to his family and friends), 93, of The Village at Brookwood, passed away on December 9, 2021. He is survived by his devoted wife of 71 years, Ann Woodson Crawford. Dr. Crawford was a true southern gentleman. He demonstrated throughout his life his strong faith in God and the importance of family, education, hard work, and good manners.

Dr. Crawford was born on May 4, 1928, and raised in Gastonia, North Carolina, the only child of R.O. Crawford and Edna Lattimore Crawford. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He was an outstanding student at Gastonia High School class of 1946. Dr. Crawford graduated from Davidson College in three years by taking summer school classes at UNC Chapel Hill so he could quickly move on to medical school.

On June 5, 1950, he married Ann Woodson, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries to Brazil, who he met at Queens College. In 1954, he graduated from Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University. Dr. Crawford served in the United States Navy at Camp Lejeune taking care of marines and their families. In 1957, he took over a general family practice of medicine in Claremont, North Carolina where he was the only physician. He worked tirelessly and regularly made house calls to over half of Catawba County. In 1966, Dr. Crawford commenced a three-year residency in ophthalmology at UNC Chapel Hill and what was then McPherson Hospital in Durham.

In 1969, Dr. Crawford came to Burlington to practice ophthalmology. He specialized in cataract surgery and was thus able to save the sight of countless grateful patients in and around Alamance County. Dr. Crawford was an active member of First Presbyterian Church. He was an avid supporter of the basketball team at what was then Elon College.

In 1985, Dr. Crawford accepted a new challenge when he relocated to Tarboro, North Carolina here he was a leader of the medical staff of Heritage Hospital (now Vidant Edgecombe Hospital). He was a member of Howard Memorial Presbyterian Church. Upon his “retirement” he continued to practice ophthalmology several days per week in New Bern and Morehead City. In 2000, Dr. Crawford decided to fully retire from ophthalmology and return with Ann to Burlington.

Dr. Crawford was a life-long learner. He acquired knowledge and proficiency in numerous fields of endeavor throughout his long and prosperous life. He earned his private pilot’s license and for many years owned a single engine plane. Although a highly accomplished eye surgeon, he most loved working on his farms in Burlington and Tarboro. He raised cattle and horses in Burlington. In Tarboro, he bred, trained and showed champion American Paint Horses. Since age four, horses were his greatest love.

Dr. Crawford did not just have mere hobbies, he had an inquisitive mind and was passionate about his interests. At various times his endeavors included coaching youth basketball, playing golf and teaching the game to his sons and grandsons, quail hunting, collecting antiques, and acquiring metalworking machinery. He was an American history buff from reading all of his life. In later years, he studied the stock market. In retirement, he became a highly accomplished woodworker. He leaves behind numerous exquisite pieces of furniture, large and small. During the past few years at The Village at Brookwood he was an avid student of the game of bridge.

In addition to his wife, Ann, Dr. Crawford is survived by their children: Sherrill Beaman (Randy) of Tarboro, Mary Edna Fogleman (Jim) of Raleigh, Robert O. Crawford III (Renee) of Raleigh, and John W. Crawford (Amy) of Burlington. In 1981, they lost their daughter, Frances Venable, to cancer. He described the loss of Frances at age 26 as the most difficult and transforming event of his life. Dr. Crawford was the immensely proud grandfather of 12 grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and to date, 16 great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary of Graham Presbyterian Church on Thursday, December 16, 2021, followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dr. Crawford may be made to Wake Forest School of Medicine, Office of Philanthropy, P.O. Box 571021, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1021 or Graham Presbyterian Church Community Life Center building fund, P.O. Box 1089, Graham, NC 27253.

Rich & Thompson Funeral and Cremation Service in Burlington is assisting the family.

Condolences may be offered at www.richandthompson.com

Copyright, 2021, Times-News (Burlington, NC).