Obituaries – August 9th, 2017


Jerry Dale Branch, 63, of Patrick Springs, died on Thursday, July 27, 2017, at his home.

He was the son of Betty Mae Felts Branch and William Edward Branch. Surviving are his sister, Linda Branch Martin of Spencer; and one brother, Edward Dudley Branch of Dugspur.A  graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, August 10, at the Handy Family Cemetery in Patrick Springs.Arrangements are by Norris Funeral Services, Inc. and Crematory of Stuart. Online condolences may be made to the family at



Laura Edna Knight Clifton of Stoneville, N.C., celebrated her 100th birthday on May 17, 2017. She departed this earthly life on Friday, August 4, 2017.A Celebration of Life was held Tuesday, August 8, at Colonial Funeral Home Chapel in Madison, N.C. Burial was in the Stoneville Municipal Cemetery.She was born in Patrick County to the late George M. Knight and Lillie Hutcherson Knight. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Everette “Kemp” Clifton; brothers, Frank, Robert, Hunter, Lowell and Earl Knight; sisters, Irene K. Williams, Kate Coleman, Nannie Plaster and infant sisters, Virginia and Mattie Sue.

She was a faithful and active member of the First Baptist Church of Stoneville for over 66 years. Her family rejoices in the long and wonderful life she lived. Her favorite scripture comes from John 14:7, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  Survivors include sons, George Lee Clifton and wife Bonnie of Martinsville, and Garry Scott Clifton and wife Eydie of Patrick County; sister, Estelle K. Gunter of Madison, N.C.; grandson, Derrick Lemons and wife Stephanie; great-grandchildren, Devyn, Isabella, Ariana and Drake Lemons; and her many loving nieces and nephews.The family wishes to thank the entire staff of Landmark Assisted Living Center and the medical team at Pioneer Community Hospital in Stuart for their wonderful care.Memorial donations may be made to a charity of one’s choice in her honor.Condolences may be offered at



Lark Rakes Eaton, age 54, of Patrick Springs, passed away on Sunday, August 6, 2017, at Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

She was born in Patrick County on June 10, 1963, and was preceded in death by her father, Bernard Thomas Rakes, and a brother, Tommy Rakes.

She had a strong faith and was a member of New Life Community Fellowship Church. She had worked with the Patrick County School System, with the Patrick County Recreation Department and was a census taker. Her greatest passion was being the owner/operator of Rhythm Dance Studio for over 15 years, touching the lives of many young people.

Surviving are one daughter, Misty Bronwyn Cox and husband John of Claudville; one son, Keegan Rakes Arrington of Patrick Springs; two grandchildren, Zoe and Braylon; her mother, Barbara Church Rakes of Stuart; one brother, Donny Rakes and wife Janet of Stuart; a sister-in-law, Janet Rakes of Raleigh, N.C.; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held today (Wednesday, August 9) at 7 p.m. at Moody Funeral Home in Stuart with Pastors Jim and Ethel Churchwell officiating. The family will receive friends from 5 p.m. until the time of the service at the funeral home. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1079C Spruce Street, Martinsville, VA 24112.

Online condolences may be sent by visiting



Pearl Easter Layman Handy, our beloved mother, went home to be with our savior and to be joyously reunited with husband, Reverend Bernard D. Handy on August 4, 2017.

She was born in Patrick County on April 20, 1930. Her father and mother, Posey and Emma Layman; two sisters, Louise Stowe and Gladys Trent; and brother, Paul Layman, have gone to Heaven before her. Two infant brothers also preceded her in passing.

She is survived by her son, Danny B. Handy; his wife Cynthia; and adored grandson, Brandon. She had one surviving sister she thought the world of, Beatrice West. A treasured sister-in-law, Ruby Layman, also survives her. She had numerous nieces and nephews she loved as well.

Pearl was an active member of the church community for all of her life. She was an equal partner in her husband Bernard’s radio and church ministry for many years. She also enlightened many sick and shut-ins with a ray of hope delivering “Meals on Wheels” for over 20 years. The Heavenly Choir now welcomes her spirit with open arms.

Funeral services were held Sunday, August 6, at Moody Funeral Home in Stuart with Elder Lowell Hopkins and the Rev. Andy Pack officiating. Burial was in the Russell Creek Primitive Baptist Church cemetery.

Online condolences may be sent to



James Early Lawson, 85, of Martinsville, passed away on Monday, August 7, 2017, at his home.

He was born on April 24, 1932 in Patrick County and was a son of the late Ernest Jake Lawson and Carrie Dillon Lawson. He was also preceded in death by his daughter, Barbara Sue Lawson.

He married the love of his life, Erma Williams Lawson, on December 24, 1951, and started his own business, Lawson’s Roofing, Heating & Air in Martinsville, which he owned and operated throughout his life. He served in the U.S. Army for four years during the Korean War as a horizontal engineer. He was a member of Clearview Wesleyan Church. He is survived by his beloved wife of 65 years, Erma Williams Lawson; daughters, Jo Ann L. Shelton of Martinsville (late husband, the Rev. Mike Shelton), Brenda L. Souther of Ridgeway, Becky L. Patterson and husband Bryan, of Martinsville; sisters, Mamie V. Blankenship of Martinsville and Christine Gilley of Rocky Mount; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A special thank you goes to caregivers and friends, Paulette Hairston and Marie Wade, and the support and care of Mountain Valley Hospice.

The family will receive friends tonight (Wednesday, August 9) from 6 to 8 p.m. at Collins-McKee-Stone Funeral Home in Martinsville. A service to celebrate his life will be held on Thursday, August 10, at 11 a.m. at Collins-McKee-Stone Funeral Home. Burial will immediately follow at Roselawn Burial Park in Martinsville.

Arrangements are by Collins-McKee-Stone Funeral Home-Martinsville. To express condolences online, please visit



Frances Critz Smith, age 96, of Stuart, passed away Monday, July 31, 2017, at Blue Ridge Therapy Connection in Stuart.

She was born in Patrick County on April 20, 1921 and was a daughter of the late William Gabriel Critz and Mary Koger Critz. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Robert T. Smith; a son, William “Bill” Critz Smith; three sisters, Ruby Tatum, Nancy Legge, and Christine Ayers; and two brothers, James and Fred Critz.

She had retired from the Patrick County School Board and was a member of Stuart Baptist Church.

Surviving are a son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Annetta Smith of Fairfax; and two nieces.

Funeral services were held Friday, August 4, at Moody Funeral Home in Stuart with the Rev. Jim Churchwell officiating.  Burial was in the Critz Baptist Church cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.

Online condolences may be sent to



Beatrice Claudine Lee Wood of Woolwine was born May 2, 1928 in the Rock Castle Gorge area of Patrick County and passed away August 1, 2017 at her home following a brief battle with cancer.

She was the eldest child of Claude and Lula Compton Lee. She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Irvin Hanford Wood.

She is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Danny Lee and Dr. Karen Martin Wood and one grandson, Jonathan Martin Wood, all of Stuart; two sisters, Nancy Laura Lee Dillion and husband Avery and Elva Lucille Lee Haden and husband Moir, all of Woolwine; and one brother, Kyle Edward Lee and wife Frances Weddle Lee of Floyd; two sisters-in-law, Essie Wood Nolen of Collinsville and Mae Wood Atkins of Ridgeway; and a brother-in-law, Glaten Wood of Charity.

Beatrice graduated from Woolwine High School in 1946 before attending Ferrum Junior College and graduated in 1948 with a Junior College Literary Diploma. She began teaching at Meadows of Dan School. After two years she took time from teaching to complete her bachelor of science degree in education from Radford College in 1952. Later in her career she returned to Radford College and received her master of science degree in 1965.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she returned to the Patrick County School System, teaching elementary grades followed by high school grades at Woolwine High School. She transferred to Patrick County High School when it opened in 1970, where she taught English. She followed that with being the director of special education for the division.

Later in her career she returned to teach elementary grades  at Woolwine Elementary School, retiring in 1990 after 42 total years of dedication to the Patrick County School system.

She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honor society of female educators; the Virginia Education Association and the Patrick County Retired Teachers. She also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Ferrum College in 1983.

She was a lifelong member of Woolwine United Methodist Church. Following her retirement from education she traveled and was involved in the family farm.

Funeral services were held Thursday, August 3, at Woolwine United Methodist Church with Pastor Sandy Wright officiating. Burial was in the Woolwine Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Woolwine United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 74, Woolwine, Va. 24185.

Arrangements were by Moody Funeral Home in Stuart, and online condolences may be sent by visiting

Card of thanks

Thank you for sharing your memories, and giving us love and support during this time of sorrow. We are deeply grateful and appreciate your many expressions of kindness and compassion, which will always be remembered. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

The family of Chloe Lawless Litten


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