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Asheville - Trina Mullen passed away peacefully on December 3, one day short of her 69th birthday, following a courageous two-year battle against cancer.
Born to Jack and Christine Matthews in Asheville, Trina was an Asheville native. She graduated from Asheville High. Her career took her to Durham for many years but after retiring, nine years ago, she returned home, and immediately began making a difference in Asheville and to the people here.
Trina was a founding member of the Downtown Asheville Residents Association (DARN), which provides social and civic opportunities for people who live downtown. She was a tireless organizer who got things done, often because she wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. Those who knew her might use the word 'stubborn.' In a good way.
Trina and her treasured friend Mary Ann West transformed Pritchard Park from an non- distinct piece of property downtown into a flowering, shady oasis. They personally purchased plants and flowers for the park, planted and watered them themselves, often with the assistance of homeless individuals who were happy to assist in making the park beautiful. Two years ago, when the Pritchard Park fountain broke down and the City did not have the funds to repair it, Trina hired a designer and a plumber, raised the necessary $11,000 and, working with City officials, had the beautiful new fountain installed. She believed everyone who loves downtown has the right to find it beautiful.
She was a tireless volunteer for Asheville Greenworks and this year was awarded its Volunteer of the Year award for her good works in downtown beautification.
She loved traveling, gardening, art, films, books and grandchildren. She lived her life to the fullest. When faced with cancer, she met it head-on with a ferociousness that surprised no one who knew her.
She earned a BA and MA from UNC, and an Ed.D. from NC State. She began her career a public school teacher and served as an advocate for the poor through Legal Aid (where she met her husband Patric). Before retiring, she served vice president for training for Nortel Networks Inc., a major international corporation.
She was a loving wife, a devoted mother and grandmother and a beloved friend to those lucky enough to have known her. She was a thoughtful person, and widely loved for her quick wit and acerbic sense of humor.
She is survived by Patric, her loving husband of 30 years; her mother, Christine Matthews; two children, Warren Gentry of Colorado (and his son Gunnar) and Katharine Davis, a native of Asheville (and her husband Mark and daughter Emily); brother Ross Matthews (and his wife Kathleen and children Daniel and Megan) of Salt Lake City; sister Jacqueline Matthews of Durham; stepchildren Erin Mullin of San Francisco and Aden Mullen of Seattle; and, dear, dear friends who are too numerous to mention. Trina leaves a community that will miss her contributions, a family that will grieve its loss and friends who yearn for just one more conversation, one more laugh, one more glass of wine with her.
The family is thankful for the care Trina received during her two-year battle with cancer, and would particularly like to thank Dr. Jim Cummings of Asheville; her radioation oncology team, Dr. Sesalie Smathers and Angela Carthcart; her Duke Hospital team, including Dr. Neal Ready and Jennifer Tenhover; and everyone at The Solace Center. Especially they wish to thank Trina's best friend Pam Duncan who served as her colleague, her friend and confidante for many years and her caretaker during her last months.
A funeral is planned for 2 pm , Saturday, December 7, at the First Baptist Church chapel (5 Oak Street). The family plans a celebration of Trina's life at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Trina Mullen Fund for Pritchard Park, CFWNC, 4 Vanderbilt Park Drive, Asheville 28803 or www.cfwnc.org.
Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Dec. 6, 2013