Inez Johnson Blevins McRae passed away at Arbor Acres United Methodist Retirement Community on December 20, 2019. She was born June 19, 1922, in the Toecane community of Bakersville, NC, in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. She was the only daughter of Pearl McKinney Johnson and George Johnson.
At age 16, Inez courageously boarded the train for Maryville College where she studied Home Economics, graduating in 1942. She began her thirty- year teaching career in the Mitchell County Schools at age 19. She taught Home Economics which included cooking, sewing, childcare, financial management skills, nutrition and etiquette to freshman girls and Family Living to senior boys. She was a beloved teacher and influential role model for young people throughout the county. After her retirement she relished class reunions where she could once again enjoy her “boys and girls.”
Inez was preceded in death by her parents, husbands James Bailey Blevins and Dr. James T. McRae, her beloved friend JB Robinson, son Robert McRae, granddaughter Pam Darnell, and numerous cat and dog companions whom she rescued and loved dearly. Rescuing creatures, both human and four-legged, defined her life. She believed in generosity, hospitality and second chances.
An active and loyal member of Bakersville Methodist Church, she taught Sunday School, led the United Methodist Women, and served on countless committees supporting the church and parish. She provided leadership for the acquisition of the church chimes which from dawn to dusk mark the hours in Bakersville with hymns.
In 1985, Inez and Dr. McRae founded the Mitchell Historical Society to celebrate and preserve the history and heritage of Mitchell County. Until her death, she remained devoted to the work of the Society and was deeply honored by its creation of the Inez McRae College Scholarship for promising Mitchell County students. She was instrumental in the preservation of the Historic Mitchell County Courthouse, saving it from demolition and having it placed on the National Register of Historic Places. She enjoyed membership in PEO, the Retired Teachers Association and Delta Kappa Gamma. She was an ardent supporter of Mitchell County Animal Rescue and for her ninetieth birthday celebration, in lieu of gifts, requested that the numerous guests help fill a truck with dog and cat food (which they did!) or make financial donations to MCAR.
On June 19, 2012, her ninetieth birthday, Inez was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Beverly Purdue in recognition of her outstanding service to North Carolina.
When Inez left Bakersville on March 1, 2017, and moved to Winston-Salem, Mayor Chuck Vines issued a proclamation of “Inez Appreciation Day” and asked citizens and friends to celebrate the contributions she made to Bakersville and beyond. The proclamation notes her many contributions including the molding of character and improvement of lives of countless students. She was a woman of strength, courage, grace, and beauty who was proud of her Appalachian heritage. She used one of her favorite quotes: “Use what talents you possess, for the woods would be silent if no birds sang except the best,” to motivate others to step forward and work for good.
Inez leaves behind loving children, Alan Blevins (Amy) of Savannah, GA, Martha Blevins Allman (Joe) of Winston-Salem, Betty McRae Darnell (Ed) of Inman, SC, Bill McRae (Brenda) of Wilmington, NC, Dave McRae(Patti) of Wilmington, NC, and James McRae (Karen) of Yadkinville, NC, grandchildren Carmen Castellano, (Nick), Taylor Blevins (Tori), Bailey Allman, Ella Allman, Ben Darnell (Juliet), Wendy Gordon (Jeff), Scott McRae, Kim Couch (Rob), Kristi Diello (Pete) and Shannon Zerniak (Walt), and great grandchildren Katelyn Castellano, Charlotte Blevins, Michael Blevins, TJ Gordon, Jackson Gordon, Alex Gordon, Noah Couch, Adam Couch, Tyler Metts, Theo Metts, Rob Zerniak. Ridge Zerniak ,Rebecca Zerniak, Jamie McRae and Emily McRae. To those descendants she passed along the love of family, the example of character, purpose, and resilience, and the importance of faith and community.
The family will receive visitors at Henline- Hughes Funeral Home in Bakersville, NC, from 6-8 pm on January 10. The memorial service will be held at Bakersville United Methodist Church at 1:00 pm on January 11.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that remembrances be made to the Inez McRae Scholarship fund of the Mitchell Historical Society, Mitchell County Animal Rescue (MCAR) and the Bakersville United Methodist Church.
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