Posted 6/28/19


Matthew R. Leavitt passed away peacefully after a year-long battle with lung cancer on June 15, 2019 at the Pittsboro Hospice facility, surrounded by friends.

He was born …

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Matthew R. Leavitt passed away peacefully after a year-long battle with lung cancer on June 15, 2019 at the Pittsboro Hospice facility, surrounded by friends.

He was born on May 3, 1947 to Ruby (Rohrlich) Leavitt and Milton G. Leavitt in Manhattan, NY. He grew up on Long Island, first in Hicksville and then in Great Neck, graduating from the Great Neck North Senior High School. He went to college (Boston University) at the right time (’65-’70) and in the right place to experience many of the great societal revolutions of our time at their beginning. He then meandered to Los Angeles, back to NYC, to San Francisco, back to NYC, to rural Maine, back to NYC and finally to North Carolina and Fearrington Village.

A man with an extraordinary range of interests, he actively enjoyed photography, physics, politics and political science, computers, exotic automobiles, history, yoga, traveling, kite flying, music and more music, walking, science fiction, conservation and ecology, basketball, birds and insects. But it was photography that kept him energized, especially since moving to Fearrington. He had been an ardent photographer since the 60s – his degree in journalism had a footnote in photojournalism. The advent of digital photography revitalized his passion and he spent most of his time wandering with a camera. His favorite subjects included birds (especially herons, ospreys and eagles), bees, dragonflies and butterflies. He tried to capture what he saw, with as little Photoshop intervention as possible. He was an active member of the Chatham Artists Guild. At the Carrboro Art Center, he was a featured artist at the “Saving the Pollinators exhibit.” His website, will be kept alive to show some of his best work.

In later years he became a documentarian of local demonstrations, rallies and marches with a named archive in the North Carolina Archive at the University of North Carolina. His greatest challenge was to become a better and more confident street (or candid) photographer (people make such incredible subjects).

He was an active member of the Board of Directors and ardent supporter of Fearrington Cares. As a gregarious, generous and gentle man, he will be missed by many. He leaves behind a brother Michael in Lansdowne, Virginia.


Frank Reid Johnson, 95, of Winston-Salem, NC, passed away Thursday, June 13, 2019.

Services celebrating his life were held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 22, 2019 at Lambeth-Troxler Funeral Home, 300 West Wendover Ave., Greensboro, NC. Burial with military honors was at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lakeview Memorial Park Cemetery.

Frank was born in Siler City, NC, in 1924 to the late Jesse and Eleanor Pugh Johnson. He served his country in WWII in the US Army. Frank worked in paint all his life in one way or another, either in body shops or painting houses. He was a master of mixing color. In addition to his parents, Frank was preceded in death by his loving wife, Peggy Hayes Johnson, and nine siblings, Reverend Jesse L. Johnson, Effie Johnson, Carrie Lee Holt, Mattie Bell Redding, Ruby Brewer, Clyde Johnson, Raymond Johnson, Hurley Johnson, and Elbert Johnson.

He is survived by his son Geoffrey Johnson and wife Edith; grandsons, Franklin and Charles Johnson; along with many nieces, nephews, and loving friends.

The family would like to give special thanks to the caregivers and staff at Trinity Elms Nursing and Rehab in Clemmons, NC and special friend, Nancy Gover

The family received friends at the funeral home immediately following the service.

Family and friends may sign and view the guestbook at:


Mrs. Patricia Jane Griffin Champion, 64, passed away at her home in Pittsboro, Thursday, June 13, 2019.

A native of Chatham County, Patricia was born August 30, 1954, daughter to the late Thomas Harold Griffin and Jean Johnson Griffin. She was employed with the Orange, Chatham and Person County Health Services until leaving to take care of her family. She was happiest taking care of people. She was real, down-to-earth and non-judgmental. A person, who easily made others feel comfortable with her great sense of humor and warm-filled laughter. Patricia could do anything with her hands; cooking, sewing and decorating cakes were some favorite things she would do for family and friends. She was also known for her beautiful crafts, especially the holiday orbs and Christmas wreaths she made every year. She was a doting grandmother, loving mother and faithful wife. For 39 years, she celebrated her love with her husband, Walter.

In addition to Walter, Patricia is survived by her two sons, Rodney Champion and Kevin Champion, both of Pittsboro; her sisters, Carolyn Robinson (Randy) of Pittsboro, Sarrah Kelly of Pittsboro and Kathy Griffin Butler of Graham; her brother, Thomas Harold Griffin, Jr. of Pittsboro; her grandchild, Kaylee Elizabeth Marie Champion; her uncle, Robert Britt of Fayetteville; and her Miniature Australian Shepherd, “Griffin”.

She is preceded in death by her parents; her sister, Rebecca Richardson (2018); and her brother, James Robert Griffin (2017).

A visitation was held from 5-7 p.m., Thursday, June 20, 2019 at Donaldson Funeral Home and Cremation; 396 West Street, Pittsboro, NC.


Charlie Daniel Lewellen, 78, of Siler City, formerly of Southern Pines, NC, passed away at Siler City Center on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Charlie was born in Baldwyn, Mississippi on February 1, 1941 to the late Homer and Iowa Thompson Lewellen. Charlie was retired from the U.S. Army, serving 21 years. His favorite past-time was being a drummer for a country western band, Chuck Fowler and The Mavericks. They played week-ends for many years at the VFW club. He also enjoyed watching movies and reading western books by Louis L’Armour.

He is survived by his son Rex Daniel Lewellen; two daughter, Ruth Danielle Collins and Robin Danette Lewellen; four grandchildren; eleven great-grandchildren; and his sister Alline Lewellen.

Online condolences can be made at

Services are entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines.

Dennis John Dodge

Dennis John “Denny” Dodge, 72, died June 15, 2019, surrounded by his family.

Denny loved life and greeted each day with an easy smile and a sparkle in his eyes. He never met a stranger and gathered in life-long friends everywhere he went. Denny was born April 14, 1947, in Jamestown, New York, grew up in Warren, Pennsylvania, attended Valley Forge Military Academy and Kentucky Wesleyan College. He served his country in the National Guard then in the Reserve for ten years. Denny was a natural salesman, working at his father’s car dealership, Dan’s Chevrolet, then GTE, before starting his own business. He had many interests, loved old jeeps and old tractors, enjoyed sailing and boating, dabbled in pottery and artistic welding, was a great “chef” at the grill, did a little wine collecting and was a NASCAR fanatic. He loved exploring our Country’s park lands, beaches and mountains and was determined to enjoy life as an adventure.

He met his wife Lynell in the North Carolina mountains. They made their home in Pittsboro, NC, lived for a time on their sailboat, Driftin’ n Dreamin’ in the Florida Keys where they both worked as licensed Captains on a variety of boats, and they returned to his beloved North Carolina mountains recently for one more “adventure”. His family and many friends will miss him greatly.

Denny is survived by his wife of 37 years, Catherine Lynell (Smith) Dodge; his son, Dennis John “DJ” Dodge, Jr.; Lynell’s daughter, Tracey Leyan (Metcalf) McCaskill and spouse Stephen N. McCaskill and granddaughter, Ashley Marie McCaskill. He was preceded in death by his father Clayton Arlis Rudiger and his mother Klahr Mead (Rudiger) Dodge, his adoptive father Daniel Clair Dodge; his half-sister, Norma Jane (Dodge) Carr, and his half-brothers, Leland Loy Rudiger and Robert Randolph Rudiger.

In lieu of services, Denny asked that his friends celebrate his life, each in his or her own way.

Donations to honor his life may be made to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, 322 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28803 or online at .

Thomas Roby Bishop

Thomas Roby Bishop, 76, of Pittsboro died at The Laurels Nursing Home on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

For over 30 years Tom owned and operated Auto Sport Gallery in Raleigh where he had a loyal following of car enthusiasts. He also made enormous contributions of his time and wise advice to Alateen groups in Raleigh, guiding teenagers in need of dealing with adversity. Tom was a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Born in Falls Church, Virginia, Tom grew up in Hickory, before moving to Raleigh and then later to Pittsboro.

He is survived by his wife, Rita Baldwin; step-children, Michelle Baldwin Myburgh of Barrington, IL, Jeff Baldwin and Agustina Pablo-Baldwin of Pittsboro; five step-grandchildren; a sister, Sara Phillip of Hickory, and cousin, Pat Hauser of Greensboro.

Services will be held at a later date.

Karen Alexander HARTSELL

Pittsboro - A loving wife and mother, Karen Alexander Hartsell, age 69, of Charlotte, North Carolina, passed away in the early hours of June 22, 2019.

She is survived by her husband, John C. Hartsell II, to whom she was married for 50 years. She is also survived by her daughter, Sarah Barrett (wife of James Barrett); granddaughters, Claire and Alice Barrett; and her brother, Jack Howell Alexander.

Karen graduated from Airport High School (Columbia, South Carolina) in 1967. From there, she moved on to graduate from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Business Marketing in 1971. After several years in business, Karen pursued her passion for teaching. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from Queens College in 1996 and spent 15 years teaching with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

In addition to her love for teaching, she was an avid member of the Harley Davidson Hog Chapter and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She enjoyed spending time with family and friends and held a special place in her heart for the North Carolina mountains.

A memorial service for Karen will be held Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Asheboro, North Carolina.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her honor to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) or The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.

Condolences may be made at:

Donaldson Funeral Home & Cremation is honored to serve the Hartsell family.

charm f. braxton

Mr. Charm F. Braxton passed away unexpectedly on June 23, 2019 at the age of 85.

Born September 24,1933 in Alamance County to the late William A. Braxton and Ida M. Braxton, he was a resident of Pittsboro,.

Charm was best known as a husband, father, brother and friend. His love for life and those around him was evident. He loved playing golf, especially at the Sanford Municipal Golf Course.

He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Annie Faye Braxton; his son, Jerry Braxton; his daughter, Janet Braxton; and his sister, Pheobia B. Mann.

The family received friends and guests from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at Donaldson Funeral Home and Cremation; 396 West Street, Pittsboro.

A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, June 27, 2019 at Chatham Memorial Park in Siler City.


Elon – Lillian “Tootie” Kirby Johnson, 89, went home to be with the Lord on June 25, 2019 at her daughter, Patty’s home surrounded by her family.

She was born in Wythe County, VA on December 31,1929 to the late John Daniel and LaEuna Gravley Kirby. In 1950 she met Rexford Johnson to whom she was married for 61 years. Lillian was a longtime resident of Siler City and an active member of Siler City Pentecostal Holiness Church where she served as Sunday School Teacher. Upon relocating to Burlington in 1993, she became an active member of Burlington Assembly of God and was an original managing partner for Johnson and Associates.

Survivors include her daughter, Patricia “Patty” Johnson Cox and husband Kenny; son, Michael Kirby Johnson and wife Debbie; grandchildren, Adam Johnson, Lindsey Isley (Josh), Andrea Matthews (Mitchell) and Jonathon Cox; great-grandchildren, Ryan Isley, Raelyn Isley, Emerson Kate Matthews and a sister; Barbara Dean of Virginia Beach, VA.

She was preceded in death by her husband, parents; brother, John Daniel Kirby and sisters, Roberta Manuel and Catherine Aker.

A service to celebrate Lillian’s life will be held at 12 noon on Friday, June 28, 2019 at Lowe Funeral Home Chapel by Pastor Bryan Rainbow and Pastor Mike Johnson with a private burial to follow. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service on Friday and other times at the daughter’s home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Burlington Assembly of God, 821 Tucker St., Burlington, NC 27215.

You may sign the online register book at:

kathleen jones cook

Kathleen Jones Cook, 87, of Siler City died Tuesday, June 25, 2019.

Mrs. Cook was born in Chatham County on October 19, 1931, the daughter of Kenny and Pearl (Johnson) Jones.

Everyone knew her as “Ma”. Ma was a special lady to many. She was married to her one and only true love Ulys for 67 years. Ma loved her husband and missed him since the day he passed away. She loved her children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with all her heart. Ma spent years raising her children and grandchildren and then helped raise her great-grandchildren. Ma loved her garden, even up to a few weeks ago wanting her garden plowed. She spent countless hours in her garden and in her flowers. Ma enjoyed baking cakes and donating them to church auctions. Ma could always make the best biscuits, she always had biscuits on the table. Ma taught all her family to love one another and to always be there for each other.

Kathleen was preceded in death by her husband, Ulys Cook and her parents.

She is survived by daughter, Joan Cook Harris and husband Lon; sons, Rocky Cook and wife Phyllis and Elton Cook and wife Sandra; grandchildren, Phillip Cook and wife Kristina, Beverly Cook Fields, Andrea Smith, Rodney Cook and wife Natasha, Chris Cook and wife Ginger, Heather Brown and husband Chris, Christine Presley and husband John, Lonnie Harris and wife Katie; and fourteen great-grandchildren.

The family received friends Wednesday, June 26, 2019 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Smith & Buckner Funeral Home, 230 North Second Avenue, Siler City.

The funeral will be Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 11 a.m. at South Fork Friends Meeting, 359 South Fork-Bethel Road, Snow Camp with Pastor Andrew Needham and Rev. Bob Wachs officiating. Burial will follow in Big Meadows Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Pitttsboro.

Online condolences may be made at:


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