F. Nelson Tomlinson, Jr. ’51

F. Nelson Tomlinson, Jr. '51

After embracing a life well lived on earth, F. Nelson Tomlinson, Jr. passed away on October 20, 2020 to his eternal home in Heaven. A native of Winston-Salem, NC, Nelson was born to Dr. Floyd N. Tomlinson and Margaret Dougherty Tomlinson on March 19, 1929.

He attended R.J. Reynolds High School for two years and was graduated from Fork Union Military Academy in 1947. Nelson furthered his education at Davidson College and was graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business.

After graduation, Nelson enlisted in the United States Air Force and later received a direct appointment as a 2nd Lieutenant at Donaldson Air Force base in Greenville, SC. He was released from active duty in 1953 and attained the rank of Captain in the local Air Force Reserve Unit before his resignation.

In January 1954, Nelson was accepted into what he felt was “the finest training program on Wall Street for stock brokerage” with Merrill Lynch. His career as a stockbroker was phenomenal in satisfaction on many levels. Nelson felt very blessed that his work was his favorite hobby and his livelihood.

Nelson got great satisfaction in studying research of companies and investing where he felt growth and increased earnings were very probable. Frugal yet enterprising, he diligently applied his father’s counsel:“It does not matter what you make; it is what you save that counts.” He took good care of his clients and gained their trust by recommending investments which met their needs and objectives.

In January 1979 Nelson was elected Vice President of Merrill Lynch. He retired June 30, 1995 after 41 1/2 years of service, yet remained active in his pastime of investing in securities until his death.

As successful and rewarding as Nelson’s career was, it only came in second to being struck by a thunderbolt when he first met Dottie Ellis at a private Christmas dance at Old Town Country Club when he was a junior at Davidson College and she was a junior at R.J. Reynolds High School.

Although he lost her phone number, with fate and better timing prevailing, Nelson spied her again four years later while she was playing the organ in the Chapel Sunday School Class at Centenary UMC. Their courtship began later that afternoon.

Nelson and Dottie were married less than a year later on July 28, 1956 and enjoyed great happiness in their 61 years of marriage until her passing in 2017. Their marriage was admirable because of their steadfast commitment to one another, partnership in their endeavors and sharing joys and challenges of life with humor, zest and comfort.

To further enhance their lives together, Nelson and Dottie were blessed with 3 children: Ellis, Laurie and Dawn. Together they helped shape the character and values of their children by their love for one another and each of their children, guidance and moral compass. Nelson’s children always had the utmost respect, love and admiration for him.

Guided by principles of integrity, responsibility and gratitude, Nelson served his community with his time, talent and resources. He was an avid supporter of The Winston-Salem Foundation, Community Care Center (Board of Directors) and The Republican Party. He was also a member of Centenary United Methodist Church, Stratford Rotary Club, Forsyth Country Club and Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

In 2003, Tomlinson Hall at Davidson College was dedicated in honor of Dorothy Ellis Tomlinson and F. Nelson Tomlinson, Jr. in recognition of their generosity to the college for over 50 years.

In 2018, Tomlinson Wellness Center at Arbor Acres was endowed by Nelson in memory of his beloved wife, Dottie.
Within moments of any conversation with Nelson, one would immediately discern that he was a natural born storyteller. His ability to recount the success stories and adventures of his contemporaries and predecessors was intriguing, as many became pillars in our community.

His wit and dry sense of humor entertained family and friends at any gathering. His legacy of living a passionate life with purpose, commitment and generosity will forever be respected and appreciated.

Nelson wanted to express his appreciation to his special friend and investment advisor, Lee Raymer of Merrill Lynch, for his professional assistance during his retirement years.
Nelson is survived by his son Ellis Tomlinson (Karen) of Colorado Springs, CO; daughter Laura Dray (Jeff) of Winston-Salem; daughter Dawn Tomlinson (Steve Beck) of Winston-Salem; granddaughters Kathryn Schamens of Berlin, Germany and Kristen Dray of Venice Beach, CA; brother Charles Tomlinson of Winston-Salem; his sister-in-law Judy Thuman (Pat) of Big Canoe, GA; nieces Marilyn Edwards (Marshall) of Charlotte, NC; Virginia Baker (Murray) of Blountsville, FL; Louise Cain (Bob) of Winston-Salem; Heather Mackel (George) of Big Canoe, GA; 8 grand-nieces and 7 grand-nephews.

He is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Dottie; sister, Mary Ann Stephens Grimes, and nieces Susanne Lessler and Elizabeth Stephens.

A private memorial service will be held at Salem Funeral Home Chapel on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 with Rev. R. Craig Ford officiating. We invite family and friends to visit www.salemfh.com to view the memorial service of Nelson, beginning Thursday, October 29th.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Winston-Salem Foundation, 751 W 4th St #200, Winston-Salem, NC 27101, Centenary United Methodist Church, 646 W Fifth St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101 or charity of donor’s choice.

Online condolences may be made at www.salemfh.com.

V. Reitzel Snider ’57

V. Reitzel Snider '57

Vernie Reitzel Snider, Jr. passed away on Saturday, October 10, 2020.  He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Vonda Tucker Snider.

A native of Winston-Salem, Reitzel was born on October 5, 1935 to Virginia Hauser Snider and Vernie Reitzel Snider, Sr.  He graduated from Mineral Springs High School and received his undergraduate degree from Davidson College in 1957.  At Davidson, he was Chief Judge of the Court of Control, regimental Commander of the Army ROTC and captain of the wrestling team.

Those who knew Reitzel, knew how much he loved and cherished his family.  His genuine affection for Vonda, his five children and their spouses, and later in life his grandchildren, could not be overlooked.  For Reitzel, nothing was more important than family.     

An officer in the ROTC, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army, stationed at Fort Devens, MA.  Upon his discharge in 1959, he moved to Charlotte and made his home in the Queen City.  He started his professional career in insurance and financial planning before founding Synco, Inc., a real estate investment and management company, in 1971.

Some of his proudest contributions to the City included restoring the historic landmark building at 112 South Tryon, returning the original brass entry doors that still stand today.  With Reitzel at the helm, Synco was also a leader in the renewal of historic Fourth Ward, developing Hackberry Place and Hackberry Court and renovating The Poplar condominiums.  He collaborated with his close friend Hugh McColl and NCNB who were instrumental in facilitating that venture. 

Reitzel relished making real estate deals and made many of them throughout his long career, including the Colony Apartment site which he acquired in 1976 and was in the process of redeveloping at the time of his passing. The company and his family look forward to celebrating his legacy when the new Colony opens its doors to the Charlotte community in the coming years.

A life-long learner, avid reader and history buff, Reitzel proudly established the Snider Family Motto “Semper Discentes” (Always Learning). He especially loved American presidential history and was a self-proclaimed Anglophile with Lord Nelson and Churchill playing a central role in many of his studies.  He was known to spend hours in museums, reading exhibit captions into a Dictaphone for later enjoyment. 

As a progressive Charlottean, he joined community leaders early in his career to spearhead efforts to advocate for equal economic opportunity and to end discrimination.  In 1969 he received the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews (now known as National Conference for Community and Justice.)

In addition to his wife, Vonda, Reitzel is survived by his five children and their spouses, all residing in Charlotte: David Snider and Jeff Hall, John and Melissa Snider, Slates and Johanna Snider, Jennings and Ashley Snider and Jessie and Alston Mann; six grandchildren, Olivia, Randall, Everett, Haynes, Hill, Reitzel and two more on the way; his brother, Jennings Snider, his wife Linda, and their children; and close family friends Rocio and Narcy Aguilera and their children Alexander and Matteo.

A family service will be held 10:30 am Friday, October 16, 2020 at Covenant Presbyterian Church. The family invites you to join them virtually at https://www.covenantpresby.org/live, or https://www.facebook.com/CovenantPresby.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to The Davidson Trust at Davidson College, P.O. Box 7170, Davidson, NC 28036 or to any worthy cause that would bring joy to the donor.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences can be shared at www.kennethpoeservices.com.

John Bourdeaux ’63

John Bourdeaux '63

John W. Bourdeaux, 79, passed away Friday, October 9, 2020, at his home in Lecanto, Florida after an illness.

Born in Meridien, Mississippi and raised in Davidson, North Carolina, John was a graduate of the Blue Ridge School for Boys and, after service in the U.S. Army, a graduate of Davidson College.

John began his career in the building material and aggregate business, where he became an internationally known expert in the field. Beginning with Lehigh Cement and Martin Marietta, John became the CEO of North American operations for Blue Circle Inc.

While comfortable on a jet and at the opera, John deeply connected with smaller towns and the people who lived there. He ultimately relocated to Lecanto, where he owned and operated Sunshine Materials until his retirement.

While his professional accomplishments were impressive, John truly made a mark in his life with his desire to help others, rooted in his deep faith in Jesus Christ. Most recently, John led the Serving Our Savior (S.O.S.) food pantry ministry, which began as a ministry in 2004 of his home church, Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church.

At the beginning, the ministry served about 40 local families. Under John’s loving care, it grew to include 10 churches, serving hundreds of families each month. Additionally, John would befriend those in came to S.O.S., offering friendship, encouragement, and financial assistance for those in need.

While John always loved the stranger – who was never a stranger for long – he was also devoted to his family. John was always present at weddings, graduations, and family gatherings. He leaves behind a legacy of loving care for family, friends, and his community.

John is survived by his life partner, Gayle Wilder; his daughter, Anne Bourdeaux Estes and her stepchildren Madison and Camden; his son, John W. Bourdeaux Jr., his wife Suzanne, and their children John III and Rose; his sister, Margaret Bourdeaux Arbuckle, her husband Howard, and their children Elizabeth, Mathew, and Ada Adele; and his nieces Carolyn and Margaret, the daughters of his brother Bob and sister-in-law Jerry who both predeceased him. He is also survived by his former wife, Elaine Gettman Bourdeaux.

Memorial contributions can be made to S.O.S. Inc., PO Box 640774, Beverly Hills, FL  34464-0774.

George Wilson Gunn, Sr. ’47

George Wilson Gunn, Sr. '47

On October 5, 2020, the Rev. George Wilson Gunn, Sr. of Black Mountain, NC, was welcomed into the roomy mansion of Christ after 94 years here reflecting the very grace of God. 

Born June 15, 1926, to Eliza Drayton (Woodside) Gunn and the Rev. Dr. Charles Groshon Gunn in Bluefield, West Virginia, baptized and nurtured in the covenant community of Westminster Presbyterian Church where his father was pastor, shaped by Miss Blanche’s kindergarten, Bluefield Public Schools, McCallie School, Davidson College, and Louisville Seminary.

George went on to provide a lifetime of service in the Presbyterian Church. His passion for campus ministry was evident at the University of Georgia, the University of Arkansas, and at Lees-McRae College.  He was a founder of the National Campus Ministry Association and also headed the Office of Higher Education of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.

Rev. Gunn pastored congregations across Arkansas, Texas, and North Carolina – the last being with the beloved saints at Fletcher Presbyterian Church, Newland, NC.  He was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award by Louisville Seminary in 1998.  He was a prolific writer, a poet, photographer, oil painter, numismatist, and philatelist.  

Married to Sara Louise (Smith) Gunn for 67 years before her death in 2017, he is survived by his children Wilson (Pam), Herb (Joan Dennehy), Genie (Jude), and Knox.  He is also survived by his brother-in-law James Sidney Langrall, nieces, nephews, six grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. 

He was predeceased by his parents, his brothers Charlie (Ginny), Jim (Shirley), and sister Libby Langrall. He will forever be remembered for his quick and relentless wit, his vast intellect, his passion for social justice and racial reconciliation, and his unconditionally loving engagement with family and friends.

In lieu of flowers please give to “Fletcher Presbyterian Church” – memo “Malawi Mission.” Send to the Fletcher Presbyterian Church, PO Box 493, Newland, NC 28657

John Miller ’49

Dr. Miller was born in Gastonia NC on September 25, 1928, the son of the late Dr. Oscar Lee Miller and Rose Evans Miller. He died on October 5, 2020, peacefully in his sleep at home in Summerville, SC.

We celebrate his long and meaningful life, his love for the Lord and for his family and for his faithful service to the Church.

Dr. Miller attended Charlotte city schools and graduated from Central High School. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Davidson College. He received his Bachelor of Divinity Degree cum laude from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond VA. Dr. Miller also did postgraduate work at New College, University of Edinburgh and Westminster College, Cambridge University. He received his Doctor of Ministry Degree from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA.

Dr. Miller was an honorably retired minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a member of Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery. Following graduation from seminary he was Interim Bible Professor at Peace College, Raleigh, NC. He served pastorates in Jason and Snow Hill, NC, Rocky Mount, NC and Old Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church, Laurinburg, NC.

He also served as Presbyterian Campus Minister at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC and Chaplain at The Presbyterian Home of South Carolina, Summerville, SC. Following retirement Dr. Miller served as Parish Associate of the Summerville Presbyterian Church where he was a very active affiliate member and a faithful participant in the Seekers Sunday School Class.

Dr. Miller grew up in the Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC where he was actively involved in youth programs. His dedication to the church universal continued throughout his life. He was twice commissioner to the PCUS General Assembly and served as Moderator of Albemarle Presbytery. He was a longtime member of Bread for the World and supported the Lowcountry Food Bank in Charleston, SC. While at Davidson he was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.

Dr. Miller’s interests and activities were many and varied. His world travels took him to the Belgian Congo, along with several trips to Europe and a freewheeling motorcycle excursion from Cambridge, England to Jerusalem, Israel. He was a Life Scout and served as Scoutmaster of Troop 205 in Greenville, NC. He attended the 1974 National Jamboree and hiked along the Appalachian Trail.

He enjoyed various nature activities and possessed a true appreciation for God’s created world. He taught his two boys to hunt and fish with varying success. Dr. Miller was strongly dedicated to the spiritual life of children and young people. He established a scholarship in memory of his wife Dowdy Hardy Miller designated for educational ministry with children. He enjoyed the Summerville Symphony and also supported local theater presentations by Flowertown Players of Summerville.

Dr. Miller was a genuine Bible scholar who could quote chapter and verse and continued his lifelong devotional reading in the original New Testament Greek. His linguistic prowess was exhibited in his delightful ability to end family meal disputes with the Latin phrase de gustabus non disputandum (“to each his own”).

Anyone who knew Dr. Miller knows that a list of all his positive qualities would be too lengthy. There are some, however, that will always remain part of his legacy. Dr. Miller was a sweet, kind, generous and loving person. Others remember him as also quick-witted, flirtatious, (a little) stubborn and something of a rascal! He was thoughtful and supportive, patient and sincere, humble and steadfast, genuinely pastoral, a trusted friend and devoted husband, dad, and granddad.

Dr. Miller is predeceased by his wife of sixty years, Evelyn Dowdy Hardy Miller.

He is survived by two sons, The Rev. Dr. John N. Miller Jr. and Ben H. Miller (Dorothy), and three grandchildren, Martha E. Miller Reid (Will), Laura T. Miller and Benjamin H. Miller II.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages you to make contributions to the John Neel Miller Fund through the Presbyterian Foundation at the following address: The John Neel Miller Fund, Presbyterian Foundation, 200 E. 12th Street, Jeffersonville, IN 47130.

Copyright: Copyright (c) 2020 The Charlotte Observer