OBITUARY: Velma Rose Combs Burnley, 97, former Mayor of Boone for 16 years

OBITUARY: Velma Rose Combs Burnley, 97, former Mayor of Boone for 16 years
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Velma Rose Combs Burnley, first woman mayor of Boone, North Carolina credited with putting Boone on the map with her economic development, died March 19, 2019 at Sardis Oaks Retirement Center in Charlotte at the age of 97.  She was mayor of Boone 16 years.

Photo courtesy of Hampton Funeral Home

Born on November 14, 1921 to Charles and Rose Mast Combs in Vilas, North Carolina, she graduated Cove Creek High School at the age of 16.  She attended Queens College, now Queens University of Charlotte.  After marriage, she was blessed with her only child, a daughter, Lynn Kellam of Charlotte.  Madonna, her precious little dog, gave Velma years of joy!

Another first, Velma’s employment with Northwestern Bank in Boone, which is now Wells Fargo, resulted in becoming the first woman vice-president.  She attributed becoming mayor to networking with townspeople while with the bank.  She was elected to the Boone Town Council in 1987 and became mayor two years later serving in that role until 2005.  She also served on the area board of the Rural Economic Development; President of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce; and was a founding member of the Watauga County Humane Society.

Lynn described her mother as a personable woman, wonderful mother and as a maverick.  She was an avid reader, checking out four or five books from the library, reading them, returning them the next week, repeating the checking out and amazing her daughter.

Velma and Larry Dean Pilkenton married in a lovely wedding ceremony; sadly Dean passed in less than three months following surgery.  His parents loved Velma as a daughter, they were proud of her achievements as they would have been a daughter, they respected and admired her integrity.  Dean’s family shared their parents’ adoring feelings, particularly his sister, Sylvia Pilkenton Icenhour, who considered Velma a sister.  When one gives thought, Velma was always smiling a gorgeous smile for which she will always be remembered.

Velma is survived by her daughter, Lynn Kellam, family members and many special friends.

Visitation will be Monday, March 25, 2019 from 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM at First Baptist Church of Boone, 375 West King Street, Boone, N.C., 28607.  Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 PM at the Church.  Burial will follow at Cove Creek Baptist Church Cemetery, Vilas, N.C.

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Hankins and Whittington Funeral Service, in Charlotte, North Carolina and Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service are in charge of the arrrangements.

About The Author

As Editor and Publisher of Blowing Rock News, David Rogers has chosen a second professional career instead of retirement. For more than 35 years, he served in the financial services industry, principally in institutional equity research. He grew up in the oilfields north of Bakersfield, California and was a high school English major and honors student. From an economically disadvantaged family background, he worked his way through college (on grounds crew and in dining hall, as well as advertising sales for college newspapers), attending Johnston College at the University of Redlands, Claremont McKenna College, and California State University, Bakersfield. Other jobs to pay for college included a Teamsters Union job in South Central Los Angeles, a roustabout in the central California oilfields, and moving sprinkler pipe and hoeing weeds in the cotton fields west of Bakersfield. Rogers' financial services industry career took him from Bakersfield to La Jolla and San Diego, then to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Newport Beach and Charlotte before arriving in the High Country in 2000 to take a volunteer position coaching the rugby team at Appalachian State University and write independent stock market research. He spent three years as a senior financial writer for a global financial PR firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Frankfort (Germany). Rogers is the author of "The 90% Solution: Higher Returns, Less Risk" (2006, John Wiley & Co., New York). He is married to wife Kim (Jenkins Realtors), and shares in the joy provided by her three grown children and five grandchildren.

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