B. Frank Matthews II ’49

B. Frank Matthews II, age 95, died peacefully at his home on January 24, 2023. A native of Gastonia, born October 7, 1927, Frank was the youngest of five children of the late Elizabeth Robinson Matthews and James Houston Matthews, Sr. He was preceded in death by the love of his life, Betty Choate Matthews, to whom he was married for 63 years; his daughter, Harriet Matthews Jackson; and his grandson, Franklin Matthews Jackson. Also preceding him are his siblings: Sarah Robinson Matthews, Elizabeth Matthews Welton, Eugene Robinson Matthews, and James Houston Matthews, Jr.; his brothers-in-law, Joseph Leighton Choate III and David G. Welton, M.D.; and his sisters-in-law, Annabelle Matthews Royster and Betsy Merritt Choate Sherard.

Growing up in a department store family, Frank learned from a young age the benefits of hard work, integrity, and perseverance and loved hearing the story of Mr. William Henry Belk sending his father to Gastonia to revamp and open the first Matthews-Belk store in the early 1900s. After the first store gained traction, Houston Matthews, Sr., along with his brothers and the Belk family, opened 18 stores in North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, Middle Georgia, and Texas. In Howard Covington’s 1988 book Belk, he wrote, “None of Belk’s partners had been with him longer than the Matthews brothers. They exemplified the loyalty of the partners to Henry Belk and the family style that characterized the Belk operation.”

In addition to working in the family business, Frank spent happy childhood summers at Camp Morehead on Bogue Sound (Morehead City, NC), where he developed his love of sailing. He attended Gastonia City Schools through the 9th grade, then followed his two older brothers to The McCallie School (Chattanooga, TN) and graduated in 1945. From there, he entered Davidson College, graduating in 1949 with his Bachelor of Science in Business (BSB) and was a proud Kappa Alpha. He ran on the track team at both McCallie and Davidson, and he also learned to fly an airplane at Buck’s Flight School while at McCallie. Frank served his country in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1949-1965, commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and honorably discharged as a Captain.

Frank remained a loyal, involved alumnus of McCallie and Davidson, two institutions he credited throughout his life for shaping him, reinforcing his Christian values, and deepening his faith.

After graduating from Davidson in 1949, Frank joined the Matthews-Belk Stores full time with his brother, Houston Matthews, Jr., and sister, Elizabeth Matthews. He rose through the ranks of the Belk organization and held the positions of Executive Vice President & Supervising Partner, President, and Vice Chairman. Frank also served on numerous Belk Store corporations from the early 1950s until all store entities consolidated in 1998. Upon the completion of that merger, he became Vice Chairman of Belk, Inc., the nation’s largest privately-owned department store until its sale in 2015. Frank provided many years of exceptional leadership to the Belk Stores.

Frank counted himself fortunate to have worked alongside all of William Henry Belk’s children-John, Tom, Ike, Sarah, and Henderson-in building the Belk corporation. He had the deepest respect for the Belk family and felt privileged to have worked so closely with John Belk and Tom Belk; he enjoyed their partnership and friendship throughout the years. He also had the honor of working with the Belk family’s third generation as they continued the tradition of great leadership.

Frank was also a Director of The Belk Foundation, which provides financial support to many educational institutions in the Carolinas and throughout the Southeast. After his retirement from Belk, he turned his attention to developing family legacy property in the Charlotte region with developers Childress Klein and Crosland Southeast on Waverly (Southeast Charlotte), Beacon Partners on The Square (SouthEnd), and The Keith Corporation on Kings Mountain Corporate Center.

Though much of his energy was dedicated to his retail career with Belk, Inc., he always found time for his church, family, and community. He followed the example of his parents with lifelong membership in Gastonia’s First Presbyterian Church where he served as Deacon, Elder, Sunday School Superintendent, Sunday School Teacher, Youth Advisor with wife Betty, and later as Elder Emeritus. Frank was also devoted to the growth and betterment of Gaston County and made his mark in innumerable ways. He helped organize the Gastonia Development Corporation and was a director of two publicly traded companies listed on the NYSE: Public Service Company of North Carolina, Inc. and Ti-Caro, Inc. Frank was a Director and Chairman of Gaston Federal Bank-predecessor of Citizen South Bank-for more than 36 years.

Frank recognized a strong community has a strong non-profit network, and he served on the boards of the United Way of Gaston County and Gaston County Family YMCA. He was a Director of Gaston Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Gaston Community Foundation, and Chairman of First Gaston Foundation and The David Belk Cannon Foundation. The Matthews family believed in the power of education for personal and community growth, and he served as a Trustee at both Davidson College and Chatham Hall (Chatham, VA). At Davidson, he was on the Board of Advisors, then served 12 years as a Trustee and chaired the Regional Campaign (1992-1995) as part of the Campaign for Davidson. He also chaired the Annual Fund at various points and received Davidson’s Alumni Service Award in 1987. He was later honored as Trustee Emeritus.

Frank received numerous community awards through the years such as the Duke Kimbrell Lifetime Civic Achievement Award (Jaycees), the Allen H. Sims Award (Gaston Community Foundation), the Gaston Literacy Lifetime Achievement designation, and The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award.

Frank is survived by his children: Eugene R. Matthews II and wife, Katherine (Gastonia, NC); and Mary Matthews Vaughn and husband, Vernon, (Gastonia, NC); four grandchildren: Peter Kemp Jackson II (Aiken, SC); Benjamin Franklin Matthews III and wife, Melanie (Charlotte, NC); Katherine Matthews Darling and husband, Edward (Charlotte, NC); and Elizabeth Vaughn Edwards and husband, Duke (Greenville, NC); and six great grandchildren. Also surviving are his nieces: Annabelle Matthews Kelly and husband, Bill (Gastonia, NC); Nora Matthews Hale and husband, Alfred (Rome, GA); and Alice Stowe Matthews, wife of the late Vann M. Matthews II (Gastonia, NC); and his nephews: William Merritt Choate and wife, Marcy (Charlotte, NC); and The Reverend J. Houston Matthews III and wife, Sharon (Gastonia, NC).

The family thanks the following for their care and support through the years: Ronald Digby, M.D., Dustin Letts, M.D., and their CaroMont Health teams; Covenant Village personnel; loyal caregivers, Kathy Watkins, Connie Burnette, Joreida Currence, Marveta Mason, and Faye Tate; longtime helper and friend, Charlie Holmes; and business associate and friend of more than 50 years, Margaret Caldwell.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, January 28, 2023, at First Presbyterian Church, 1621 E. Garrison Blvd., with The Reverend Daniel J. Commerford and The Reverend J. Houston Matthews III officiating. A reception will follow immediately in Fellowship Hall. A private service of committal will be held for the family at Oakwood Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to First Presbyterian Church, 1621 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia, NC 28054 or to Covenant Village Benevolent Fund, 1351 Robinwood Rd., Gastonia, NC 28054.
Condolence messages and memories of Frank may be shared with his family at www.mcleanfuneral.com.
McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the family of Mr. Matthews.

Robert Thornton “Bob” Henderson ’49

Robert Thornton “Bob” Henderson of Tucker, Georgia passed away on December 23, 2022, at the age of 94. He grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida.

He graduated from Davidson College in 1949 and pursued his theological education at both Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.

He has served as a Presbyterian campus minister at North Carolina State University, and as a pastor to the Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church of Durham. After a brief tenure as a pastor in New Orleans and a term as a Denominational Director of Evangelism, he went on to pastor in Hendersonville, North Carolina. After retiring from the pastorate in 1992, he spent 10 years teaching and encouraging seminary students and young pastors. He has authored numerous books and been a mentor to many.

Throughout his life, Bob was a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. He did not hesitate to challenge the status quo, be it the racism in Durham, the economic inequities in New Orleans or the entrenched comfort of the institutional church.

Bob’s partner in life and ministry was his beloved wife, Betty until her passing in 2011. He is survived by four children, Sam (Lane) Henderson, Susan Henderson, Rebecca Stone (late husband Brad), and Daniel Henderson; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at All Souls Fellowship in Decatur on January 14, 2023 at 10:30 AM. The family requests that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to the International Rescue Committee at help.rescue.org.

John R. Folger ’49

Dr. John R. Folger joined the Church Triumphant Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, two days short of his 95th birthday.

He was one of the longest licensed physicians in the state of North Carolina. He was active for 18 months as a Corpsman in the United States Navy. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Davidson College in just two and-a-half years. He attended Wake Forest School of Medicine. He and Hilda, his wife of 72 years, moved to Brevard and he started his medical practice in 1956, focusing on general and family medicine, obstetrics and surgery. During his practice, he delivered more than 1,000 babies. He also made thousands of house calls during his more than six-decades as a physician.

He started working in the Transylvania County Health Department in 1956 and was Health Director for 45 years. During this time Transylvania County became the first in the state to give the polio vaccine to young students. He was also the physician for the Schenck Job Corp for 25 years and was instrumental in getting Hospice and the Free Clinic, now Blue Ridge Health, into Transylvania County. He was always working on medical programs for this community.

He was an elder for many years at Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church. He became active in the community almost immediately upon arrival, joining the Jaycees and various committees and organizations through the years. He served his community in a variety of ways beyond medicine, being elected to the Transylvania County Board of Education and serving as a Transylvania County Commissioner.

Some favorite family memories include sharing his knowledge of history, which he loved, with his children and grandchildren and he enjoyed telling his stories. He loved playing chess and taught it to his grandchildren. Family vacations were about seeing and appreciating the wonderful things of this country.

He was a generous, caring, loving, intelligent and honest gentleman. He taught his family the importance of a work ethic and the importance of integrity.

There was always time for church on Sunday morning. He often taught an adult Sunday School class and he was always interested in talking about church doctrine and history with his children and grandchildren.

He would greet family with a huge smile and a tight hug. He loved silly and corny jokes. He would say, “Can I squeeze you as much as I love you?” Then he’d give you barely a squeeze followed by a bear hug.

He loved making wassail for all to share at Christmas time and Greek salad for gatherings of family and friends. He also wanted to share his licorice, pickles and buttermilk, but with less success.

He loved showing the same “magic tricks” over and over and the grandkids would just laugh because he was just so genuine and happy. He loved showing the family how he could breathe out of just one lung and how he could remove his thumb and then reattach it.

His family loved him very much.

He is survived by his wife, Hilda; children, Lydia Schleifer, of Clemson, S.C., Sydney Folger, of Brevard, Grady Folger, of Brevard and Earle Folger, of Summerville, S.C.; as well as 13 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. His son, Captain John Russell Folger III, passed away in 2005.

He was loved and respected by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, by his whole family. He will be greatly missed.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests remembrances be be sent to: The Pisgah Health Foundation, which improves the health and welfare of Transylvania County, at P.O. Box 2440, Brevard, NC 28712, or to The Cindy Platt Boys and Girls Club, which is in the building where Dr. Folger first began his medical practice in Brevard, at 11 Gallimore Road, Brevard, NC 28712, or to Four Seasons Hospice, 571 S. Allen Road, Flat Rock, NC 28731.

To leave a condolence for the family of Dr. John Folger, visit “Tributes” at www.mooreblanchard.com.

Moore-Blanchard Funerals & Cremations is honored to be caring for the family.

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.