This Christmas, the lights on the courthouse lawn’s tall evergreen tree are again shining in memory of those loved ones who have passed away or to honor those who are still with us.
Every year, the Pilot Club of Marion receives donations for the lights on the Christmas tree in front of the McDowell County Courthouse. The donations are made to the Pilot Club in memory or honor of a loved one.
And every year, the club holds a tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Marion. This year’s event was held as part of the Melodies on Main celebration.
The money made from the purchase of the lights goes to many worthy causes. The Pilot Club focuses on educating the public about brain-related injuries and disorders. The local club has purchased and donated needed supplies for local schools and helped other worthwhile organizations. The Pilot Club works to help the folks at Foothills Industries and is partnering with the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office on Project Lifesaver. The purpose of the project is to supply high-tech electronic bracelets for autistic children, as well as for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients.
More recently, the Pilot Club has started a program with McDowell County EMS called the Vial of Life. These vials will contain important medical information about an elderly person who lives alone or a homebound person who is on medication. The vials contain this information to help paramedics and hospital personnel in case that person has a medical problem or an emergency and cannot speak for themselves. The vials are kept in the person’s refrigerator and an information magnet is placed on the refrigerator door. EMS personnel will be instructed to ask if they have a vial of life or they will see a magnet on the refrigerator door.
Another ongoing effort is Surfers Healing at Wrightsville Beach for young people with autism.
In October, the Marion City Council recognized the Pilot Club as the Citizens of the Month. Karin Conley is the current president of the club.
Thursday evening, the members of the Pilot Club held their annual tree-lighting ceremony during Melodies on Main in downtown Marion. Mike Conley with The McDowell News read the names of all the people to whom the lights are dedicated, as well as their donors.
The honorary lights and their donors are listed as follows: Darline Rachel McNeely, donated by Connie and Ted Gleichmann; James E. Jones, donated by Marshall and Barbara Dark; Nancy Ulmer, donated by Karin Conley; Sharon Godfrey, donated by David and Diane McKinney; Kathy Rabb, donated by Sharon P. Smith; Gail S. Rivera, Josie Wilson, Jade Wilson and Saige Wilson, donated by Lois J. Smith; Tevin, Alayna, Liam and Madelyn Blaylock, donated by Mike and Kathy Rabb; Virginia Hobbs, Sally Little, Mary Little Apicella and Jason Apicella, donated by Steve and Alice Little.
The memorial lights and their donors are listed as follows: Frances (nee McCulloch-Glenwood) and August D. Gleichmann, donated by Connie and Ted Gleichmann; Edelweiss Dark, R. Marshall Dark Sr., Pauline M. Neal, James E. Neal Jr. and Jane Reep, donated by Marshall and Barbara Dark; Vince and Ann Kinehan, Paul McKinney, Wayne Landis and Donald Landis, donated by Harold and Donna McKinney; Hallie Taylor, Ira Taylor and Maggie Robnett, donated by Richard Mustin; Lucy Hunter, donated by Judge Robert C. and Nancy Hunter; Joyce Blake, donated by Beverly Stroud; E.J. and Margaret Clontz, Rev. Dr. Robert Davis and Nell C. Kelley, donated by Joyce C. Cagle; Billy Ferguson and Rita McClain, donated by Joyce Ferguson; Charles Stamey Jr., Mae Stamey, Bobbie Jean Cheek, Mabel and Frank Staton, donated by Denise Stamey; Gene Ulmer, John Holda and Norman Conley, donated by Karin Conley; Rev. Guy H. Godfrey, Bertha Fohl, Margaret Ann Owenby, Gene and Mary Alice Bradley, Don Godfrey, Fred and Fannie Knowlton, Vera and Ruby McKinney and Mike Freeman, donated by David and Diane McKinney; Sandi McCarter, donated by Sharon P. Smith; Edward and Winona Smith, donated by Lois J. Smith; Bill Howle, donated by Tom McMahan (Marion Pharmacy); Dewey and Iva Jones, Bill and Lillie Wiggins, Hillard and Brenda Love Jones, Blanche and Harold Sprinkle, Rev. Jack Thomas, Harold, Wanda and Charles Trinks, donated by Marie and Larry and Veronica Wiggins; Carl W. Martin and James Fredrick Lawing, donated by Betty Martin Jackson; Charlie Mace, Grace Mace, Billy Wayne Mace and Pat Sisk, donated by Brenda McKinney; Bobbie Jean S. Cheek, donated by Leonard Max Cheek; Faye A. Toney and Theta Biddix, donated by Ann Arney; Margaret Westmoreland Gibson, donated by James S. Gibson for Westmoreland Funeral Home; Annie Marie Smith, donated by Shirley Dyer; Warren Hobbs, Dewey Hobbs, Douglas Little and Katherine Little, donated by Steve and Alice Little; Ivy McBee, Paul McBee, Hazel Sandy, Carolyn Morphy, Susan Miller, Margaret Adams, Steve Allen and Elmo Carawan by Helen Shimp; Vivian Autrey and Gene Farley, donated by Deborah Autrey; Theodore Watkins, donated by Margaret Watkins; Kay Blanton, donated by Jimmy Blanton; Lucille “Luke” Huffman, donated by Jimmy D. Huffman; Bill Williams Sr. and Bill Williams Jr., donated by Gladys Williams; John Holda, Robert and Doris Smith, Bill and Florence Holda and Ruth Lambeth, donated by Patti Holda; David D. Greene, James and Kate Young, Freida Young, G.T. and Dola Shipman, donated by Kathy Young Greene; Don Godfrey, Vera and Ruby McKinney, Smiley and Florence Godfrey, donated by Sharon Godfrey.