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Obituaries Jan. 11, 2023

Russell Evans Bennett Jr.

Russell Evans Bennett, Jr. was born in Cheraw, S.C. on April 7, 1926 and died January 1, 2023. He was 96 years old. He was the son of the late Russell Evans and Mary Ella Gandy Bennett. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his daughter and son-in-law, Leslie and Ricky Fetner of Rockingham, NC and son, Russell Evans Bennett, III of Rockingham, NC, and his brother, Robert (Bob) Bennett of Cheraw, SC.

Surviving are his loving wife, Joan Ramsey Bennett of Penick Village, Southern Pines, NC; stepchildren, Susan Wood and husband, David of Pinehurst, NC, Adam Hardison of Charlotte, NC, Bryan Hardison of Charlotte, NC, Julie Sullivan of Orlando, Florida, Carol Hardison of Taos, New Mexico, and their children and grandchildren; nephews, Robby Bennett and wife, Lindsay of Cheraw, SC, Paul Bennett of Cheraw, SC, Mac Bennett and wife, Leslie of Beaufort, SC and their children and grandchildren.

Russell graduated from Cheraw High School and attended Davidson College prior to going into the U.S. Navy during World War II. Following his naval service, he attended the University of South Carolina.

In 1947, he went into the automobile business with his father.  In 1948, he was awarded a Chevrolet-Buick Franchise by General Motors in Hamlet, NC.  At that time, he was the youngest person to be awarded a General Motors Franchise.  In 1949, Russell opened a new Chevrolet dealership in Rockingham, NC.  Russell was a Franchised Dealer for over 48 years, during which time he was active in the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, serving 4 terms as a director and served as treasurer.  He served on numerous Dealer Factory Planning Committees with Chevrolet and Buick.  Russell always enjoyed a close relationship with the employees of his dealership.  He referred to the employees as “working with them” and not working “for him”.  He sold his dealership in 1996.

Russell felt strongly that one should give something back to his community.  He became involved in philanthropy both personally and through foundations.  He was a Benefactor of Richmond Community College, significantly the Cole Auditorium and Grimsley Health and Science Building.  He served multiple terms on the Richmond Community College Foundation Board.

He gave generously of his time to Richmond Memorial Hospital, later to become First Health Richmond Memorial.  He first joined the Hospital Board in 1950 and served many terms as a Trustee and served as Chairman for several terms.  In 2005, he was honored by the North Carolina Hospital Association as their Trustee of the Year and was presented their Trustee Merit award.

Russell served on the Board of Foundation For The Carolinas in Charlotte.  He served on the Advisory Board and was Chair of the Cole Foundation. He also served on the Board of The Richmond Community Foundation where he also served as Chairman.  Both Foundations serve the needs of the people of Richmond County and played a major role in helping bring Discovery Place Kids to Rockingham.  After First Health of the Carolinas of Pinehurst, NC bought the Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham, Russell was elected to the First Health Board of Directors and when his terms expired, he was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Foundation of First Health.  He was a member of The Scroll Society of the Foundation of First Health.

Russell was active in the civic life of Rockingham.  He joined the Rockingham Rotary Club in 1950 and served numerous terms as a Director and served as its President in 1957-1958.  At one time, he enjoyed a perfect attendance for 5 consecutive years of Rotary.  He was honored by fellow Rotarians as a Distinguished Rotarian.  He was a Paul Harris Fellow and was a Rotary Benefactor.

Russell served on the Rockingham City Council from 1957-59.

Russell was involved in other businesses, and especially involved with the Richmond Savings Bank prior to its merger with First National Bank.  He served as a director of that bank for 25 years.  Russell served as director of Farmers Bank and Trust, later Southern National Bank. He served on The First Union Bank Advisory Board.

Russell was honored by the Richmond Community College as their Distinguished Citizen of Year award in 1997.

He was honored by the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce for their Citizen of the Year award in 1998.

Russell was awarded The Order of The Long Leaf Pine in 2013 by Governor Pat McCrory.

Russell was a lifelong Presbyterian.  He served his church as an Elder, Deacon and Men’s Bible Class Sunday school teacher.  He served on the Building and Planning Committee when the Sanctuary of the Rockingham Presbyterian Church was built.

Russell was a member of Pinehurst Country Club and a former member of the Country Club of North Carolina where he enjoyed many years of playing golf.   He looked forward to attending the Masters for many years with wife, Joan, brothers-in-law, Claude Ramsey and his wife Kay of Asheville, NC and Jimmy Ramsey and his wife, Gretchen of Tupelo, Mississippi.  He enjoyed time spent at their home in Pawley’s Island and later at Litchfield by the Sea and Country Club with family and friends.  He also enjoyed traveling with family and friends.

To the next generation of leaders and philanthropists, Russell always said, “Don’t stand in the wings.  Come forward.  Become part of your community in whatever way you think best.  Say, I have something to offer and I’m willing to offer it.  I’m going to participate to make things better.”

The family of Russell Bennett would like to thank Penick Village, First Health Moore Regional Hospital and Hospice for their assistance in his loving care.  We would like to thank Russell for always being there for us and all his love.  We were all so blessed to be a part of his life.  He was a true Southern Gentleman who was loved by all.

A Memorial Service to celebrate Russell will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 2:00 pm at First Presbyterian Church, Rockingham, NC led by Dr. Allison Farrah.  The family will receive friends in the Fellowship Hall following the service.

Memorials may be made to:

Foundation of First Health and First Health Outpatient Comprehensive Cancer Center, 150 Applecross Road, Pinehurst, NC  28374

First Health Hospice, 150 Applecross Road, Pinehurst, NC  28374

First Presbyterian Church, 904 Fayetteville Road, Rockingham, NC  28379

Richmond Community College Foundation, PO Box 1189, Hamlet, NC  28345

Online condolences may be made at Watson-King Funeral Home in Rockingham is serving the Bennett family.


Elaine Board Hodges

Elaine Hodges, 62, of Little River, SC passed away surrounded by her family and close friends on January 8, 2023 after fighting a courageous battle with cancer.

Elaine was born on November 23, 1960 in Cheraw, SC to William Russell (Buddy) Board and Virginia (Jenny) Board.

Elaine was a 1979 graduate of Cheraw High School. She completed her undergraduate studies at Charleston Southern University in the area of counseling and her graduate studies at The University of South Carolina in the area of higher education administration. She spent her professional career in higher education administration with 29 years at Florence-Darlington Technical College and seven years at Coker University.

Throughout her professional career, Elaine served on numerous committees. While these committees proved rewarding, she always considered motherhood her greatest accomplishment. She enjoyed spending every possible moment with her daughter, Krista. She was excited to welcome her first grandson, William this past year.

In addition to spending time with family and friends, Elaine enjoyed gardening in her yard, traveling, and crafting. Anyone that knew Elaine knew that she liked to stay busy.

Elaine was preceded in death by her parents listed above, her father-in-law, James Hodges and a nephew, Jason Hodges.

She is survived by her loving husband, Jimmy; her daughter, Krista (Hodges) Nichols and her husband, Tyler and their son, William; a bonus son, Christopher and his wife, Denise and their four children, Cailee, Olivia, Camryn, and Alexander; her sister, Laurie and her husband Ronnie; her mother-in-law, Doris Hodges; her sister-in-law, Debra and her husband Ted; her brother-in-law, David and his wife, Donna; and several nephews and nieces.

Elaine requested not to have a memorial service. There will be a visitation at Kiser Funeral Home in Cheraw, SC on Friday, January 13, 2023 from 4 pm-6 pm.

In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to your favorite charity.


Thomas Vernon Huggins

CHERAW – Thomas Vernon Huggins, 78, died on Saturday, January 7, 2023.  Born, July 23, 1944, in Chesterfield County, SC, he was a son of the late Walker Manning and Josie Petty Huggins.  Vernon was a member of Cheraw Church of God where he enjoyed doing work for the church and helping in any way that he could.  He served his country proudly in the United States Army and worked for Carolina Packaging for over 30 years where he retired as a department manager.  Mr. Huggins enjoyed football and coached the youth of Cheraw, SC for many years.  He enjoyed watching TV and loved spending time with his family, especially his children and grandchildren.

Along with his parents, listed above, Vernon was preceded in death by a son, Tommy Huggins; a brother, Walker Huggins, Jr., and Sammy Huggins; and his mother-in-law, Carrie Parker.

Vernon leaves behind to cherish his memory, his loving wife of over 50 years, Pat Huggins of the home; sons, Chris Huggins (Wendy) of Cheraw, SC, and Jamie Huggins (Carisa) of Cheraw, SC; daughters, Dena Kimrey (Julian) of Wallace, SC, and Alison Melton (Jake) of Cheraw, SC; brothers, James Huggins (Carolyn) of Florence, SC, and Johnny Huggins of Cheraw, SC; a sister, Betty Jo Johnson of Cheraw, SC; grandchildren, Dakota Huggins (Alice), Cheyenne Huggins, Houston Kimrey, Carie Huggins, Clayton Melton, Allie Huggins, Josie Melton, Noah Huggins, Avery Melton, Chelsea Blackwelder, and Jake Huggins; a great-grandson, Sawyer Huggins; sisters-in-law, Joyce Parker, and Rita Brock; nieces, Ashleigh Johnson, and Danie Brock; and several other nieces and nephews.

A graveside service was held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at Chatham Hill Memorial Gardens in Cheraw, SC.

The family received friends following the graveside service at the cemetery.

Kiser Funeral Home has been entrusted to serve the Huggins family in their time of grief.

Online condolences may be made at


Blondie Steen Lee

CHERAW – Blondie Steen Lee, 82, died on Monday, December 26, 2022.  Born, February 15, 1940, in Marlboro County, SC, she was a daughter of the late Raeford Quick and the late Naomie Steen.  Blondie was a homemaker and worked in the cotton mill.

Along with her parents, listed above, she was preceded in death by her loving husband Jack Laverne Lee; brothers, Lamar Quick, and James Quick; and sisters, Evelyn Chavis, and Mary Alice Quick.

Blondie leaves behind to cherish her memory, brothers, Charles Quick, and Glenn Peele; sisters, Marie Jordan, Molly Brigman, and Margie Currie.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Kiser Funeral Home has been entrusted to serve the Lee family in their time of grief.

Online condolences may be made at


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