Ralph Lee Futrell ’52

Ralph Lee Futrell, 92, passed away on Sunday, January 2, 2022, at Brookridge Retirement Community.

Ralph was born in Winston-Salem on January 9, 1929, to Pete Harvey Sr. and Ida Hanes Futrell, the youngest of seven children. He graduated from John W. Hanes High School in 1947 where he was active in band, chorus, and sports. He was named outstanding male athlete of his senior class.

Ralph attended Davidson College and graduated from High Point College in 1952. In July of that year, he married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Jean “Bobbie” Morgan. After serving two years in the Army during the Korean War, Ralph and Bobbie moved to Richmond, VA.

In 1955 Ralph attended art school at Richmond Professional Institute (VCU). He graduated in 1957 with a bachelor of fine arts degree with an emphasis in commercial art. His career began at Alderman Studios in High Point and later continued at Long, Haymes and Carr in Winston-Salem. In 1969 Ralph began his freelance graphic design business, gRalphics, which he continued until his retirement in 1996.

Ralph was a lifelong member of Burkhead United Methodist Church. He sang in the church choir since his teens as well as at many funerals and weddings, including his son and daughter’s. He was also a member of the championship Auctioneers barbershop chorus. Ralph’s greatest loves were creating art and spending time with his family.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sisters, Ruth Futrell, Alice Futrell, Hilda Pardue, Martha DiPrima, and brothers, Charles Futrell and Pete Futrell, Jr. Surviving are his beloved family including his wife, Bobbie; daughter, Connie Stockburger (Eric) and their children, Nicole and Matthew; son, Dan Futrell (Nancy) and their children Nathan (Sarah), Natalie Shore (Alex), and great-grandchildren, Madelyn Futrell and Beau Shore.

A graveside service will be held at 11:00 AM, Saturday, January 8, 2022, at Woodland Cemetery in Winston-Salem. Please observe masking and social distancing. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Burkhead United Methodist Church. Online condolences may be made at www.hayworth-miller.com.

James “Jim” Lee Binkley ’64

James Lee Binkley “Jim” passed away peacefully at his home in Reston, VA on November 27, 2021 after a long illness.

A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), Jim served at the national level for over three decades as a passionate, cutting edge and effective champion for sustainable design and design excellence. Over the course of his long career in the Federal Government, he led three agencies in refining sustainability and building design standards that have made the government a leader in progressive, green design.

His influence extended far beyond the Federal Government to the culture, policies, processes, and technical programs of state and local governments and the entire building industry. Jim had lead roles at the Federal Government’s General Services Administration and in the U.S. Department of Energy. As senior architect for the U.S. Postal Service, Jim helped direct the design of 29,000 buildings, improving customer satisfaction, efficiency, and sustainability. Jim received the prestigious AIA Thomas Jefferson Award in 2011 in recognition of excellence in architectural achievement in his career as a public sector architect who managed and produced quality design within his agencies.

Prior to his Federal Government employment, while working for Gold Medal winner Pietro Belluschi in Boston, Jim became a registered architect. For 32 years Jim was an award-winning adjunct professor of architecture at Catholic University of America (CUA), where he created the School of Architecture and Planning’s initial courses in sustainable design and taught at least 4,000 senior level students on the specifics of this, using public architecture as examples.

In late 2020 The James Binkley Prize was created by CUA’s School of Architecture and Planning to honor him. The prize is to be awarded annually to winners of CUA’s juried Integrated Building Design Studio projects.

Jim was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on March 12, 1942. He was proud to have been an Eagle Scout and to have received the God and Country Award and the Explorer Silver Award. Following his graduation from Davidson College in 1964 with a B.A. in English, Jim enrolled in North Carolina State University where he received degrees in Philosophy with high honors and Architecture, as well as a U.S. Army commission as second lieutenant. Jim served in the military in a combat unit as captain, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in Korea from 1969 to 1971, and was a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal.

Jim is survived by his wife of 26 years, Frances Knox Bastress and his loving children and step-children: John Binkley and his wife Jen, Kevin Binkley and his wife Amy, Jessica Binkley and her partner Jack Brown, Jennifer Bastress, and Matthew Bastress. He is also survived by his grandchildren Luke and Levi Binkley and step-grandchildren Andrew, Cassie, and Tabitha Bastress.

Jim was proud to describe himself as a soldier poet. He advocated that whenever possible in war and peace, do no harm. In line with this, he frequently said, “May all sentient beings be well, happy, and peaceful.”

A memorial service will be held at a later date. Jim requested that any contributions in his memory be made to Fellows Scholarship Endowment sponsored by the Washington Architectural Foundation found at www.aiadc.com/donate“>www.aiadc.com/donate. (After selecting an amount, click on the dropdown menu to find Fellows Scholarship Endowment. You may note Jim’s name as what inspired your gift.)

Published by The Washington Post from Dec. 3 to Dec. 5, 2021.

Elisabeth Crawford (Betty) Ervin

Elisabeth Crawford (Betty) Ervin died at Grace Ridge on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, after a life well-lived. 

Betty was born on May 15, 1928, in Charlotte to Robert Taylor Crawford and Elisabeth Fore Crawford.  Although the family moved frequently during her early years, she always considered Charlotte her childhood home.  After completing high school in Roanoke, Virginia, Betty attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (then Woman’s College), earning an A.B. in 1950.  Upon graduating from college, Betty served as Assistant to the Dean of Students at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, until 1952, when she married Samuel J. Ervin, III, and moved to Morganton, where she lived for the rest of her life. 

From 1953 until 1955, Betty taught at the North Carolina School for the Deaf.  After taking time away from the workforce to raise her four children (she once said of television that anything that could keep four children quiet for an hour couldn’t be all bad), Betty resumed her career in education, teaching social studies at Morganton High School and Freedom High School from 1971 until 1985, during which time she taught the first Advanced Placement history course in Burke County. 

While at Freedom, Betty was the sponsor for the CLOSEUP Program, which provided educational trips that allowed students to meet with governmental leaders in Raleigh and Washington, and worked with the American Field Service, an international exchange student program.

Betty also played an active role in North Carolina higher education. She was deeply involved in the UNC-G alumni association, serving on that organization’s board of directors from 1987 until 1990 and as its president in 1990.  She was a member of UNC-G board of trustees from 1994 until 2000 and chaired the board during 1999-2000.  In addition, she served on the board of trustees at Sam’s alma mater, Davidson College.

In addition to supporting her husband’s lengthy career in public service, Betty dedicated herself to the life of her community.  She served on the Morganton Board of Education from 1964 until 1967, during which time she supported the decision to desegregate the City’s schools and was involved in planning for the consolidation of the Morganton, Glen Alpine, and Burke County school systems.  Betty served on the Morganton Zoning Board of Adjustment, including a stint as its chair; the City of Morganton Historic Properties Commission; and the Western Piedmont Community College 2001 Task Force.  For many years, Betty was the Registrar or an Elections Judge for Morganton No. 5 precinct. 

After her retirement, she participated in the activities of numerous local charitable organizations, such as the American Field Service, the Pilot Club, the Burke County United Christian Ministries, and Hospice of Burke County, having served as the president of all four organizations.  Betty was very active in the First Presbyterian Church of Morganton, where she sang in the choir, taught Sunday School, volunteered as a youth advisor, served as president of the Women of the Church, and was a member of two different pulpit nominating committees (chairing one). 

Betty was the first woman to serve as the chair of the church’s Board of Deacons and was one of the first women to serve the church as a ruling elder.  In the wider Presbyterian denomination, Betty was a member of the presbytery’s New Church Development Task Force and the board of directors for the national Presbyterian Historical Society.       

Throughout her life, Betty was a force of nature who sought to leave the world better than she found it.  Betty was troubled by the injustices that she saw around her and tried to do something about them.  She went out of her way to help young people who needed a helping hand and made it possible for a number of them to obtain further education or to otherwise succeed in life.  She worked hard to ensure that women took their rightful places in the leadership of her church, her community, and her state and nation.  She impressed upon her children the dignity of all people, the critical role of life-long education, the importance of involvement in one’s community, and the necessity for knowledge of and contact with the wider world. 

Although Betty later enjoyed traveling to destinations all over the globe, she made sure that each of her children had the benefit of foreign travel before going abroad herself.  She greatly enjoyed spending time with her many friends at her beloved beach house outside Wilmington and was privileged to help raise an entire generation of Ervins, Crawfords, Sassers, Pattons, Smiths, and Lachots on Woodside Place and during annual trips to the beach.  More recently, Betty enjoyed visits from her canine friends, Poppy and Sadie.  Betty doted upon her husband, her children, her grandchildren, and, more recently, her great-grandchildren, and the other members of her extended family.

Betty was predeceased by her husband; her parents; her brother, Robert Taylor Crawford; and her in-laws, Sam J. Ervin, Jr., and Margaret Bell Ervin.  She is survived by her children: Samuel James Ervin, IV (Mary); Elisabeth Fore Ervin (Ken Razza); Robert Crawford Ervin (Dana); and Margaret Ervin Bruder (Joachim); grandchildren Davin Patrick Coutu, Kelly Stephen Coutu (Amanda), Samuel James Ervin, V (Kaya), Michael Worth Ervin, Cameron Virginia Ervin, Caroline Elisabeth Ervin, Valentin Joachim Bruder, and Samuel Wilson Bruder; and great-grandchildren, Elise Madeline Coutu and Cedar Everett Ervin.

The family is grateful to the many caregivers who provided assistance to Betty in recent years, including Dr. Martin Gessner and the staff at Grace Ridge, who provided her with loving care during her final years on this earth and became her friends as well as her caregivers.

A graveside service will be held at Forest Hills Cemetery at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 11, 2021, with the Rev. Beth Ann Miller, presiding.  Memorial contributions may be made to the Betty Crawford Ervin Fellowship in History at UNC Greensboro, PO Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170 or the Taiwanese ministry of John McCall (contributions should be sent to Presbyterian Church USA, P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15269 and designated for John McCall, E200487).

The service will be live-streamed beginning at 11 a.m. on the Facebook page for Sossoman Funeral Home (www.facebook.com/sossomanfh).

Robert Amburn Gourley ’48

Robert Amburn Gourley '48

Saturday, September 4, 2021 saw the passing of another of the “Greatest Generation” World War II Veteran, Robert “Bob” Amburn Gourley of Marion, NC. Bob was born in Greer, SC on December 14, 1924 to the late James Lee Gourley and Nora Brooks Gourley.

He graduated from Marion High School in 1940 where he was selected for the Honor Society. He entered Davidson College in 1941, but World War II interrupted college. Bob enlisted in the Army Air Force and became a Fighter Pilot. He was stationed in Iwo Jima flying from Iwo to Japan. Bob attained the rank of Captain. After he was discharged from the Air Force, he continued to attend Davidson College graduating in 1948 with a BA in music. He taught music in Valdese for several years and then was associated with Marion Buick Company until retirement. Bob was Choir Director at First Presbyterian Church for 30 plus years. He was a Past Master of the Masonic Lodge and Past President of the Kiwanis Club and had 41 years perfect attendance. He was a member of the Marion Lake Club for about 70 years, where he enjoyed playing golf. Bob enjoyed going on many cruises with his family and friends visiting many countries.

Bob is preceded in death by his first wife, Kathryn Ballew Gourley and a brother James Lee Gourley, Jr.

He is survived by his second wife of 42 years, Edna Seaman Gourley; three children, Robert A. Gourley, Jr. (Cathy) of Newport News, VA, John B. Gourley (Debbie) of Greensboro, NC and Ellen G, Mitchell (Jeff) of Hickory, NC; eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

The family will receive friends at Westmoreland Funeral Home on Thursday, September 9, 2021 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. A funeral service will be held on Friday, September 10, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church conducted by Revs. George Hutchins and Robert Warren. Interment will follow the service at Oak Grove Cemetery with the United States Air Force providing military honors.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First Presbyterian Church at 79 Academy St, Marion, NC, 28752

The family would like to thank Dr. Mark Burton for his care for these many years, and all the healthcare providers for the past several months.

Donald W. Shriver, Jr. ’51

The Rev. Dr. Donald W., Jr. Acclaimed ethicist and President Emeritus of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, died on July 28 at Mount Sinai Morningside. He was 93. President of Union from 1975 to 1991, he presided over one of the most pivotal periods in the institution’s history. In the words of Professor Emeritus Larry Rasmussen, “Don Shriver saved Union Theological Seminary. That should serve as tribute enough. But more than that, he navigated changes that put in place a vibrant future Union, markedly different from the institution he joined in 1975.” Born in 1927 in racially segregated Norfolk, Virginia, Shriver was perhaps an unlikely candidate to become, in the words of Professor Cornel West, “the most prophetic seminary president in the late twentieth-century.”

He was raised, in his own words, to “never know how many injustices” his Black brethren suffered, yet throughout his career he would never stop speaking out against these injustices. Shriver graduated from Davidson College in 1951, and subsequently enrolled at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, where he received his BD (M.Div.) in 1955. After seminary, he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and served as a parish minister in Gastonia, NC from 1956, until he enrolled in the doctoral program at Harvard University in 1959.

After graduating, he embarked on a lengthy career in which he fought racism in church, culture and academia alike. In his own accounting, Shriver took Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and its call to white ministers, deeply to heart. His first book, “The Unsilent South: Prophetic Preaching in Racial Crisis,” collected nineteen sermons across the Presbyterian South speaking out against the evil of white supremacy. That same year, church elders tried to have him fired from North Carolina State University campus ministry because of his participation in the march on Selma, but Shriver refused to back down. In the ensuing years, Shriver became one of the nation’s foremost social ethicists, catapulting him to national renown.

In 1975, he was appointed President of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (UTS), succeeding Roger Shinn. He assumed the presidency amid considerable doubt that UTS would be able to stay open, due to severe financial woes. However, through the timely sale of Van Dusen Hall, Shriver was able to usher UTS through its 1980 accreditation. But his tenure as president transformed more than financial stability. Through hiring now-legendary professors like Cornel West, James Forbes, Phyllis Trible, James Washington, Beverly Wildung Harrison, Larry Rasmussen and more, he ignited the seminary’s modern era as a diverse and justice-oriented institution. “It has been an honor to know President Emeritus Shriver.

As much as he was known as an ethicist and pastor and someone who passionately denounced white supremacy, he was a truly great man on a personal level and will be missed by many,” said Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary President. Both during his presidency and after, Shriver remained one of the nation’s foremost leaders. From his service as the 1979 President of the Society of Christian Ethics, to his longstanding tenure as a member of The Council on Foreign Relations from 1988 until his death, Shriver shaped both the academy and national politics. In 2009, he was awarded the Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his 2005 magnum opus, “Honest Patriots: Loving a Country Enough to Remember its Misdeeds.” He also received honorary doctorates from more than 10 colleges, universities and seminaries for his ground-breaking scholarship and prophetic leadership.

Shriver is survived by his wife Peggy, who was a ubiquitous presence on the UTS campus. As Assistant General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, together they helped shape the broader church’s witness on issues from the Vietnam War to economic and environmental justice. She also has authored many books of poetry, which Don was known to fondly read aloud, remarking “I love you, Peggy Shriver.” The couple were long standing members of The Riverside Church. The couple were awarded the Union Medal together, the seminary’s highest honor, on “Don’s Day,” May 13, 1991, a day- long tribute to Shriver’s 16- year presidency. He is also survived by their children, Lionel and Timothy. He was preceded in death by their beloved son Gregory. A memorial service is being planned for mid-September.