Evelyn Sydnor Butterworth Bannerman, age 92, passed away Monday, November 16th, succumbing to COVID-19 a mere 17 days after her beloved husband Glenn died, also a victim of the virus. Glenn and Evelyn were married for 72 years. Before Glenn died they were able to hug and hold hands with their youngest daughter, their first physical contact with a family member since March of this year. The same daughter was able to be with Evelyn as she left this world to be with Glenn. Recently, all four of their children, many grandchildren, and even two great-grandchildren had visited Glenn and Evelyn’s window where they could wave and talk by phone.
Born February 7, 1928 in McKenney, VA, Evelyn was the middle child of Mildred and Frank Butterworth. Her older brother, Billy Boy, was killed in 1944 in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval conflict in history. He was only nineteen years old, but Evelyn never forgot her brother, remaining loyal to his memory her entire life. Ever committed to her family, Evelyn was a steadfast source of support for her younger sister, Nancy, when Nancy’s husband suffered a debilitating stroke in his mid-40’s.
Before she was married, Evelyn was a hostess on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, traveling each week from Richmond to Cincinnati and to Detroit. When she and Glenn became engaged in 1948, she was no longer allowed to work as a hostess. She returned to Hopewell and worked there while Glenn attended school full-time in Richmond, VA. Upon graduating from college, Glenn and Evelyn moved to Burlington, NC then on to Whiteville, NC where Glenn worked in municipal recreation. Their first child, Craig, was born while they were in Whiteville.
Glenn and Evelyn ultimately landed in Richmond, Virginia at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in 1955. Glenn completed his graduate degree in
Christian Education and stayed on for another 31 years as professor of Recreation and Outdoor Education. Early on, Evelyn served as secretary to Dr. Taliaferro Thompson during his year serving as Moderator of the PC(US) General Assembly and to Rachel Henderlite the year that she wrote A Call To Faith. Glenn and Evelyn had three more children by 1964. Evelyn frequently commented on how special it was to raise her family on the campus of PSCE with its close knit community.
From the time they began dating, dance was a major part of their lives. Evelyn wrote fondly of high school dances, having grown up in the big band era. She and Glenn could jitterbug like none other. Evelyn was never happier than on the dance floor with Glenn. Following WWII, they were introduced to square dancing, and eventually, to folk dancing and to clogging. Together they built a vibrant and large International Folk Dance Club in Richmond where they were leaders until they retired to Montreat, NC in 1989. Frequently attending folk dance workshops and camps as a family, Glenn and Evelyn became frustrated by the lack of programming for children. Recognizing the benefits of dancing and playing together as a family and as a community, they embarked on a dance camp for all ages that has occurred every Thanksgiving weekend for fifty years now.
Beginning in 1959, the Bannerman clan would move to Montreat each summer. Staying in a variety of houses over those years, Evelyn maintained an open door policy hosting a vast array of summer staff, friends, and family. Skilled at going with the flow, Evelyn was the consummate hostess, welcoming all. Her fried chicken and baked apples were legendary. Evelyn was a constant presence at Glenn’s side, whether in Montreat at a Friday night barn dance or in Asheville at Shindig on the Green.
Soon after Glenn began teaching at the Annual Recreation Workshop, Evelyn began attending with him in the early 1960’s. By 1973, Evelyn was asked to be the registrar for the workshop and continued this role for 22 years. Given that during her tenure everything was by hand and snail mail for over 200 participants, it sometimes felt like a full time job.
What people remember most about Evelyn was her quiet presence and her hospitality. Evelyn made all feel welcome. Her beautiful smile with huge dimples and the twinkle in her eyes will always be remembered by those who knew and loved her. Well into her nineties, Evelyn got great joy in keeping up with all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Nothing gave her more pleasure than having visits with each of them.
Evelyn is survived by her four children: R. Craig Bannerman (Jane) of Black Mountain, NC, Reynoldson G. Bannerman of Salem, OR, Beth Gunn (Bruce) of Swannanoa, NC, and Lee Ann Bannerman (Jasper Gilbert) of Swannanoa, NC; grandchildren: Marnie, Brooke, Megan, Levi, Justin, Tyler, Austin, Casey, Tamara and Mary Evelyn; and great-grandchildren: Luca, Ellis, Bowen, Kenleigh, Hannah and Winnie.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be given to either Black Mountain Presbyterian Church or Re:create (Arts, Recreation, and Worship conference: https://www.re-create.cc)
Penland Family Funeral Home is honored to be assisting the Bannerman family with arrangements.
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