WNC celebrates life of David Belcher

For the son of a small-town Baptist preacher who studied to become a classically trained pianist — only to find his professional career take an unexpected change of tempo into academia — the Saturday, June 23, memorial service for Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher hit all the right notes.

A life that changed lives: WNC mourns death of WCU Chancellor David Belcher

From the moment Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher announced he’d been diagnosed with brain cancer — more than two years ago, in April 2016 — the diagnosis ceased to be the burden of an individual person. It became the burden of the entire Catamount community, and when at age 60 Belcher finally lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, June 17, grief rippled quickly through the WCU campus and past the borders of Jackson County, threading through the mountain region and out into all the lives and communities that Belcher had touched during his years on earth. 

‘Forever in our purple-and-gold hearts’

Outpourings of support and sadness were in ample supply once news of Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher’s death reached the Catamount community at large. From political leaders to staff to students, nearly everyone had a story or a sentiment to share about how Belcher had impacted them. 

Answers still wanted in Bryson City K9 death

It’s been several months since a young police K9, Kanon, died while in the possession of a Bryson City Police Department employee, but the local community and the nonprofit organization that donated the Dutch shepherd are still seeking answers to what really happened. 

This must be the place: No guarantees how long we’re going to be here, just enjoy life

I, like many of you reading this, was initially shocked and saddened to hear the news of the recent passing of world-renowned chef, bestselling author and beloved pop culture personality Anthony Bourdain.

‘What took you so damn long, Joyce?’

It was the shortest funeral service I’ll likely ever attend. And though there were tears and somber conversations, there were also a lot of happy, smiling people. And for good reason.

Joyce Jones — Aunt Joyce to me — passed away March 22 at 91 years old. Her husband, Uncle Robert, also 91, had died on March 4. Took her 18 days to be reunited with her man, the guy she had been married to for 74 years. A perfectly fitting end to one hell of a life together. What’s not to like about that?

Beloved Man leaves behind lasting legacy

Jeremiah “Jerry” Wolfe, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Beloved Man, passed away Monday at the age of 93. 

Globe-trotting evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99

By Dale Neal • Special to The Smoky Mountain News

Evangelist Billy Graham — a spiritual guide to generations of American evangelicals, a globe-trotting preacher who converted millions to Christianity, and a confidante to presidents — died today at the age of 99.

Graham personally preached the Christian gospel to more people on the planet than any other evangelist in the 2,000 years of Christianity.

This must be the place: ‘You know I’m such a fool for you’

They said it happens.

When I was younger, and very much so in conversation nowadays, it was always said that as you get older, you tend to circle back to the music of your youth.

Remembering the quieter, essential aspects of a life

The day of my stepfather’s celebration of life service was a brisk, sunny Saturday morning, as good a day as any to celebrate life. We got up before daylight, made coffee, put on our nice clothes, packed the car, and hit the road for the three-hour drive up to Sparta, where we would meet the rest of the family before all the people started showing up to hug us or shake our hands as we stood in a long line to greet them.

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