Lynn M. Poland

December 13, 1949 ~ July 11, 2022

Lynn Margaret Poland, age 72, of Hamden, died peacefully at home of complications from a stroke, on July 11, 2022. Formerly of Huntersville, NC, Lynn was predeceased by her parents, Clark and Harriet Poland, and her beloved partner, Greg Preston.

Lynn graduated from New Canaan High School, Bates College in Lewiston, ME and earned her PhD. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Dr. Poland taught Religious Studies at various institutions of higher education including Indiana University, NC State, University of Chicago Divinity School, her alma mater Bates College, and ultimately at Davidson College in North Carolina, from which she retired in 2018 after 28 years.

Lynn loved life on her farm in Huntersville, her own little Eden. She believed every girl should have a tractor! She loved her horses, the things she grew, and the people who worked on the farm with her. Lynn opened her heart and home to many rescue greyhounds. Always an artist, in her retirement Lynn discovered her passion and talent for pottery making.

Lynn is survived by her beloved sister and brother, Nancy Samela (Joseph) and George Poland (Lisa), and her cherished nieces and nephews, Joseph and Christina Samela, Katharine, Elizabeth, and John Poland. She also leaves behind many dear cousins and a legacy of lifelong friends and colleagues. All loved and will miss Lynn dearly.

A private service will be held at the family summer cottage on Lake Quaboag in East Brookfield, MA. Donations in Lynn’s memory may be made to Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton, MA (

Robert David Kaylor

Robert David Kaylor, retired Davidson College professor, Presbyterian Minister, and resident of Highland Farms in Black Mountain, NC died surrounded by his family on April 20, 2022.

Born on October 1, 1933 in New Market, Alabama to Reverend Lemuel Jefferson and Johnnie Hanson Kaylor, he grew up the youngest of eleven children. Faith, family, and community anchored his youth, inspiring a lifetime of scholarship, ministry and social action.

Kaylor dedicated himself to teaching religion, becoming the James Sprunt Professor of Religion at Davidson College where he taught for 35 years. He earned an A.B. from Southwestern at Memphis and a Bachelor of Divinity from Louisville Seminary, then served as a pastor in Montevallo, Alabama. He joined the faculty of Davidson College after completing a Ph.D. at Duke University in1964.

A fearless and vocal activist, Kaylor worked to right the economic and political wrongs of society. As a young pastor in Alabama David allied himself with the Civil Rights Movement, beginning a lifetime of social engagement. From anti-Vietnam War protests to nuclear arms opposition, to human right activism he pursued peace and justice worldwide. He encouraged others to speak truth to power, championing the rights of minorities and women. Locally, David co-founded Davidson’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. As he put it to his family, revolution is often destructive; he preferred to build a better world one home at a time.

As a teacher and scholar, Kaylor inspired students to engage the world. He moved beyond standard interpretations of scripture, responding to Jesus’s and the Apostle Paul’s calls to challenge injustice and advocate for the poor. He stressed the crucial role that faith plays in motivating political and social change. He viewed Jesus as a provocateur of justice, a balm to the downtrodden and questioner of worldly powers. His books focused on Christ’s hopeful message of a better world grounded in loving community.

Kaylor led his personal life focused on family, friends and home. Never one to sit still, he took joy in sports and physical labor. He completed his family’s home, raised a vegetable garden, played lots of tennis, and crafted wooden furniture and vessels. David played games, made ridiculous puns and to his last breath, had twinkle in his eye.

Kaylor was preceded in death in 2018 by his wife of 62 years, Dorothy Marion (née Henning) Kaylor. The two are survived by their five children and eight grandchildren: Marilyn Kaylor (Steve Hale) , of Black Mountain, NC; Cathryn Harbor (David) of Lexington, VA, and their children Erin, Kaia, and Thomas; David William Kaylor (Jennifer), of Asheville, NC, and their sons Asa and Hanson; Charles Kaylor (Laura Johnson) of Garrett Park, MD and their children Haven Kaylor and Erin Hurst; and Marion Owen (Judd) of Decatur, GA, and their children, Dorothy and Issac.

A memorial service for David Kaylor will take place on Saturday, August 20, 1 p.m. at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, David requested that donations be made to Asheville Habitat for Humanity.

Penland Family Funeral Home is honored to be assisting the Kaylor family with arrangements.

Published by Charlotte Observer on April 25, 2022.

Robert L. Avinger, Jr. ’60

Robert Livingston Avinger, Jr. died on June 23, 2021 of advanced dementia. Born on April 26, 1938 to Frances Haltiwanger and Robert Livingston Avinger, Sr., Bob grew up in Columbia, South Carolina in a happy neighborhood filled with family and life-long friends.

Bob was an Eagle Scout and graduated from Dreher High School in 1956, where he was a proud member of the 1956 State Championship basketball team. Bob attended Davidson College and thrived academically, socially, and athletically. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, was president of Beta Theta Pi, and played on Dr. Tom Scott’s golf team. Bob developed a deep love for Davidson College and his network of college friends remained incredibly important to him. After graduating from Davidson in 1960, Bob served for two years as a lieutenant in the United States Army. Bob then earned his PhD in Economics from Duke University.

Returning to Davidson College in 1967, Bob taught Economics and served as the Dean of the Center for Special Studies. He received the first ODK Award given by students for outstanding teaching. His relationships with his students were deep and influential; he remained closely connected to former students throughout his life. That influence continues today through the Avinger Impact Fund – providing annual grants awarded through the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Davidson College to current students to support the development of business start-up ideas. Indicative of Bob’s influence, the fund was established by his former students.     

In 1980, Bob left Davidson College and joined his friend Olin Nisbet at Sterling Capital Management, an investment advisory firm in Charlotte, North Carolina. After retiring from Sterling in 1998, Bob continued to pursue his passion for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Bob and Jane McRae Jackson married in 1962. For over fifty years, they have lived in and served the Davidson community. Bob was a devoted member of Davidson College Presbyterian Church, where he was an Elder. Together, Jane and Bob received the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award for service to the community – and most notably for their leadership in developing the Pines Retirement Community. Bob served on the Board of Trustees at Davidson College and on the Board of the Union Seminary.

Through the years, the family spent summers at Pawleys Island, South Carolina. While at Pawleys, Bob shared his love for sailing, flounder fishing, and spending time in the creek. Their home at Pawleys, “Lagniappe,” was a joyful haven for friends and family. Bob adored music and reading. He entertained many with his mean jazz piano playing and was a founding member of the Davidson Book Club.

Bob is survived by his wife of 59 years, Jane Jackson Avinger of Davidson, his children Mary Charles Avinger Montgomery, Asheville, and Robert Livingston Avinger, III (Jane Price), Nashville. Bob was affectionately called “Grandbobby” by his six grandchildren: Findley Dean Montgomery, Catherine Stuart Montgomery, Whitney Harris Montgomery, Jr., Anna McNair Avinger, Robert Baker Avinger, and Caroline Coker Avinger.

His brothers and sisters-in law and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins from the Avinger, Haltiwanger, Jackson, and Rivers families were all important to him.

The family is profoundly grateful to the many loving and compassionate caregivers both at home and at the Pines Health Center and is especially grateful for Eddy Beam. 

A worship service in celebration of Bob’s life will be held at 2:00 pm on Sunday, June 27, in the Lilly Family Gallery in the Chambers Building on the campus of Davidson College. A reception will follow. Unvaccinated attendees are requested to please wear a mask.     

The service will be live-streamed on the Davidson College Presbyterian Church Facebook page. A video will be made available in the days following the service.

There will be a visitation at the Avinger home on Saturday, June 26 from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, memorials gifts can be made to the Avinger Impact Fund at Davidson College or to The Pines at Davidson. 

Avinger Impact Fund
Davidson College 
Box 7170
Davidson NC 28035-7170

The Pines at Davidson
400 Avinger Lane
Davidson, NC. 28036

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.

Anthony “Tony” S. Abbott, Charles A. Dana Professor of English Emeritus

Anthony S. Abbott of Davidson, NC passed away on October 3, 2020 at the age of 85.  He was in hospice care in Statesville surrounded by loved ones at his passing.

Tony will be remembered as a tremendous scholar and teacher, a talented and influential writer, a selfless volunteer to his community, a steadfast friend and a devoted husband and father. 

He received his early education at a junior boarding school, Fay School, in Massachusetts and later graduated from the Kent School in Connecticut.  A 1957 graduate of Princeton, where he majored in English, he went on to receive his Ph.D from Harvard and then taught for two years at Bates College.

In 1964, he moved–along with his wife Susan–to Davidson College to teach modern drama and American Literature.  He taught there for 37 years, serving as chair of the English department for seven of them.  During that time he became a truly beloved teacher and was granted some of the college’s highest awards, including the Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award and the Thomas Jefferson Award.  He remains the Charles A. Dana Professor of English Emeritus and today the Abbott English Honors Program at Davidson is named in his honor and “welcomes and promotes original work produced by senior majors in the Department of English, work of exceptional quality and polish that makes a contribution to the field.”  

Former students describe him as “young at heart” and remember him not just as an inspirational instructor but as “the kind of professor friend many of us needed during our college years of exploration and growth” and recall fondly taking walks with him on the campus or traveling with him on college trips.

After his retirement from the college in 2001, Tony continued to teach.  He was a visiting professor at Catawba College, the writer-in-residence at Lenoir Rhyne and taught workshops at Queens University and at colleges, universities and churches throughout the state. 

For over 50 years he ran the Covenant Sunday School classes at Davidson College Presbyterian Church and regularly taught seminars on Walker Percy, Frederick Buechner, John Irving and Flannery O’Connor.  In his final years, he devoted much of his time and thought to the DavidsonLearns program, designed to promote lifelong learning for “mature” students.  He was still conducting classes via zoom two weeks before his passing.

In 2015, Tony received the North Carolina Award for Literature, the highest civilian honor given by the state, and he is slated to be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame on October 11, 2020.  Best known as a poet, he once described himself as “poet who happened to write novels.”  

His first book of poems, The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and he went on to publish eight books of poetry, the last of which he completed this year and which will be published posthumously.  The accessibility of his work has led many readers to embrace poetry.  Said one, “Tony taps into everyday language and situations of love and loss.  He elevates the minutiae of life into universal truths, without rendering the language and images obscure and impossible to understand.”  

His first novel, Leaving Maggie Hope, won the 2003 Novello Literary Award, and was followed by a sequel, The Three Great Secret Things.   He is also the author of four books of literary criticism, two on modern drama.

As a teacher and a writer, Tony has been a bridge builder between those communities.  He has been an integral part of the North Carolina Writers’ Network and the North Carolina Poetry Society, bringing writers of all styles and genres together with readers and scholars. 

A dynamic reader, he called upon his theater experience to make his readings into performances and he loved doing readings for schools, churches, bookstores and book clubs around the country–hundreds of them over the years.

Tony was devoted to the town and the people of Davidson.  He was one of the founders of the Davidson Community Players and directed or acted in dozens of shows through the years.  He coached youth baseball teams and led church youth groups. He volunteered for the Red Cross, driving patients to their treatments and developing deep, meaningful relationships with them. 

In 2018, the town honored him with the Jack Burney Award for Community Service in recognition for his lifetime of voluntary efforts.  But perhaps his greatest service to the town was the way he connected folks to one another–“If you were friends with Tony, you had a vast network of friends you just hadn’t met yet,” said one community member.  “Tony wanted everyone he knew to be friends with everyone else he knew.”  

His love for the Davidson community was palpable and it helped the town maintain its sense of warmth and connectedness throughout his lifetime.

Above all else, he was a devoted family man.  His mother died when he was very young and he did not know his father well until later in his life.  Perhaps because of or perhaps in spite of the distance from his parents, he was wholly committed to building and raising a connected family. He met Susan Dudley when they worked together at a ranch in Wyoming.  They were married in 1960 and celebrated their 60th anniversary together a month before his passing. 

Together, they had four children–David (who married Donna Stancil Abbott), Stephen (Katy Smith Abbott), Andrew (Katie Weiss Abbott) and Carolyn, who passed away at age four–and seven grandchildren: Robert, James, Elliott, Josie, Clara, Henry and John. 

Tony and Susan loved hosting the extended family at their lake home, traveling with them, and playing long, competitive games of cards or Boggle or Rummikub.  Tony often recited poetry to them before meals or at family occasions. 

He will be buried beside Carolyn in the family plot in Davidson.  He still describes her death as his most life-changing event, and she remained central to his life as the muse for his poetry.

A service to honor Dr. Anthony S. Abbott will take place at 2:00 on October 17 at Davidson College Presbyterian Church.  Because of the COVID crisis only family will be permitted in the sanctuary, but the service will be available via livestream, and the link will be available on the church website and distributed closer to the date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Abbott Honors Program in English, Davidson College, Box 7170, Davidson NC 28035-7170; to the Davidson Community Players, PO Box 76, Davidson, NC 28036; or to the charity of your choice.

A service will be held for family only on October 17 at 2:00 pm. The service will also be livestreamed. Click here for the service Saturday at 2:00 pm. The Abbott family is under the care of Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home & Cremation Services. 

Online condolences and memories may be shared at

Tony’s family is deeply interested in remembrances of his life.  If you have stories or reflections that you would like to share, please email them to his son Stephen Abbott at so that they can be included in Tony’s service or distributed to the family, as appropriate.