Rowan remembers those lost during 2011
By Mark Wineka
As 2011 winds to a close, the Salisbury Post remembers some of the people lost during the year:
George Wilson Sr. — Once known as Salisbury’s “Music Man,” especially for the highly acclaimed Broadway musical productions his Boyden High School students performed, George Follett Wilson Sr. died Jan. 8 in Salisbury.
At his death, the 83-year-old Wilson had just moved into the N.C. Veterans Home at the Hefner VA Medical Center.
He had been living at his Forsyth County home with his wife, Doris.
From 1957-71, Wilson was the face of the music department at Boyden High School, as both its band and choral director.
Karina Evette Moss — Moss, 34, died the morning of Jan. 18 at an assisted-living facility in Spencer. She became a local symbol for the importance of becoming an organ and tissue donor.
At her death, Shirley and Grady Moss knew their daughter wanted to give the gift of life.
In April, the Mosses and their son, Ernest, celebrated Karina’s gift when they presented a cloth square the parents designed to Carolina Donor Services, a federally designated organ procurement agency serving 7 million people in 78 counties of North Carolina and Danville, Va.
Their square and those from other donor families become part of a quilt that is displayed at community and state events, health fairs and during public awareness campaigns.
Ray Coggins — Much of Ray Coggins’ life dealt with cars — selling them, and even racing them.
“He was a car man from the time he could drive, which was 12 or 13 years old,” says Larry Gregory, Coggins’ stepson.
Coggins died Feb. 14 from injuries he suffered in a fall. It caught his family by surprise. Ray was still going strong, driving and prepared to have his license renewed in March when he turned 95.
At one time, most everybody in Salisbury knew Ray Coggins, though they often referred to him as “Ol’ What’s His Name,” thanks to a highly effective advertising campaign for his Lincoln-Mercury car dealership.
His first dealership in Salisbury owned a car that raced on the beaches of Daytona during the infancy of NASCAR.
David Deese — Many of his friends and clients knew David Deese as a devoted husband and father, the man with a golden heart and the person who did their taxes every year.
But Deese also was known among veteran bluegrass musicians and audiences as an accomplished banjo picker who performed with Arthur Smith, Bill Monroe, Red Smiley and the WBT Briarhoppers.
He died of a heart attack March 13 at age 69.
A Vietnam veteran, Deese often paid the tab for any law enforcement officers at the Checkered Flag restaurant in Salisbury.
At Christmas, he routinely took truckloads of gifts to needy mountain families, or he and his wife, Barbara, singled out a local family to help.
Jacob Doolittle — Only 11 weeks old, Jacob Doolittle died in a fire March 18 at his family’s home on East Henderson Street in East Spencer.
His parents, Joey and Samantha Doolittle, received treatment for burns at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, and Jacob’s brother, Zachary, survived the early-morning fire without injury. The Doolittles’ home was a total loss.
Wilson Smith — In 1957 Smith started Food Lion (then Food Town) with Ralph and Brown Ketner. That one Salisbury store would eventually grow to today’s 1,300 stores under the Food Lion banner.
He died April 20 at age 93.
Thanks to his investments in the grocery chain, Smith shared his personal fortune, most notably with Rowan Regional Medical Center, where the outpatient center and heart and vascular center are named for him and/or his family.
His monetary contributions also left a significant legacy with Catawba College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, the Baddour Memorial Center for challenged adults, the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and St. John’s Lutheran Church, where he had served in virtually every capacity.
But it was his energy, work ethic, faith, motivational skills and caring for family and friends that people remembered most.
Donald M. Carter — Longtime president of Summersett Funeral Home, Carter, 88, died at his residence late on the morning of May 2.
He was known for his ability to make grieving families feel special, guide them through the toughest times of their lives, show compassion and take care of the details.
“He was a walking history about Salisbury, and he knew a lot about the people he was serving,” son Summie Carter said at his father’s death.
Carter was a World War II Army paratrooper and a savvy businessman, who guided the company’s growth and laid a foundation for succeeding generations of his family to build on.
Elinor Swaim — She never held public office but, in a way, the public was Swaim’s office.
Swaim died June 14 at age 92.
She was remembered for her local, state and national work on behalf of public libraries and literacy. Her travels as a presidential appointee on the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science took her across the country and across the Atlantic Ocean.
Swaim chaired both the N.C. State Library and the Rowan Public Library boards. For the Rowan library, her tireless leadership led to the first successful passing of a bond referendum in Rowan County in 25 years, and she quickly followed that up with her push for an East Rowan library branch.
Swaim also left lasting impressions through her work for the Republican Party, the N.C. and Salisbury-Rowan symphonies, the N.C. Arts Council, the Presbyterian Church and, in her early days, as a health educator.
Bill Swaim — Former Rowan County Commissioner Wilborn “Bill” Swaim, 94, died in Salisbury less than a week after his wife, Elinor, passed away.
The couple had been married 70 years and had met when Bill served as the town clerk in Chapel Hill.
After Swaim served overseas as a finance officer for the military during World War II, the couple moved to Randolph County before relocating to Salisbury in 1962.
Swaim, a native of Winston-Salem, was president of Carolina Maid Products in Granite Quarry from 1967 until he retired in 1990. The couple were well-known for their strong ties to the Republican Party.
Bill Swaim was first elected to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners in 1986 and re-elected in 1990.
Gene Auten — The father of Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten, Gene Auten was tireless in retirement, constantly golfing, going to ball games and races, helping with fundraisers, watching after his family and working in his own yard.
So it came as a shock to the family when Auten died in his sleep July 7.
In 1961, Auten went to work at City Motor Co., the local Ford dealership. He worked there until 1974, when he became general manager of the Corbin Hills Golf Club and, in 1975, he joined the ownership group for the club. Auten sold his stake in the golf club many years before his death.
Bertha Miller — Famous for things such as her chocolate cake roll, cheese wafers and Cornish hens, Miller was a culinary institution in Salisbury — a cook and caterer extraordinaire.
She died Sept. 26 at her Salisbury residence at age 94.
“It was one of those houses that smelled so good,” said former Mayor Susan Kluttz, who often relied on Miller to cater her affairs. “She was cooking something all the time. She had food everywhere that people were coming to pick up.”
Rose Post — After a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, the longtime Salisbury Post reporter and columnist died Oct. 20 at her Carillon Assisted Living residence.
Over her 56-year career with the Salisbury Post, she became identified closely with the newspaper and her name was attached to so many stories that sometimes readers assumed the Salisbury Post was named for her.
Post had retired at the end of September 2007.
Janice and Azlyn Shaw — The 50-year-old Janice Shaw and her 3-year-old granddaughter, Azlyn, were killed when a Nov. 16 tornado destroyed their Davidson County home off Meadow Run Lane.
Over 20 minutes, from 6:05 p.m. to 6:25 p.m., the tornado stayed on or near the ground. According to the National Weather Service, it covered 12.5 miles over Davidson and Randolph counties, was 200 yards at its widest and had winds ranging from 95 to 135 mph.
It destroyed 25 homes and five businesses, damaged 60 others and caused upwards of $20 million in damage. The Shaws were the only fatalities.
Derek M. Sorrell, William M. Webb and Scotty R. Eagle — The three Rowan County men were killed Dec. 20 when a vehicle they were riding in was struck head-on by a tractor-trailer in North Dakota.
The men worked for KRC Building Solutions of Cleveland and were on their way home for the holidays after completing a job in North Dakota. Sorrell was 27; Webb, 25; and Eagle, 24. Another man, 33-year-old Julian G. Mazaba of Biscoe, also died in the accident.
Robert and Wanda Turner — The Salisbury couple died in a fire Dec. 22 at their home, located at the corner of North Church and 12th streets. They had celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary earlier in the month.
Authorities said an overloaded electrical outlet caused the fire.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.