Charlotte Holderman Ray Derrough
Asheville - Charlotte Holderman Ray Derrough, age 88, of Asheville, passed away peacefully in her home on the evening of Friday, January 11, 2013, following a brief bout with cancer. Present were her five children, Roger Derrough, Jr., Julia Rome, Carol D. Neely, Patricia Derrough, David Derrough; two of her grandsons, Morgan and Carter Neely; and Roger's wife, Janese Derrough. Known to her loving family, and many of her friends, by the sobriquet "Bigcake," Charlotte was revered for her joy, positivity, vibrant spirit, humor, lovely smile, and incomparable, passionate love of God and humanity.
Born in the mountain town of Burnsville to Samuel Troy Ray and Winnie Lou Higgins Ray on December 13, 1924, she graduated from Greensboro College in 1946 with a bachelor's degree in home economics; after graduating, she taught home economics in Burnsville for one year before her adventurous spirit led her to move to Chicago and live in a girls' club. She soon found work with Admiral Appliances of Chicago and traveled around the country demonstrating their products, a job that she treasured and about which she loved to reminisce. She and several members of the girls' club continued to travel together for decades after they each went their separate ways.
In 1950, while still living in the girls' club in Chicago, she went on a blind date with Roger Derrough, of Thomasboro, Ill., who took her to see a stage performance of Private Lives featuring Tallulah Bankhead. Several weeks later, Roger proposed to Charlotte while on a trip to New Orleans. They married on August 26, 1950; in 1953, they relocated from Chicago to Charlotte, N.C., where they lived until moving to Asheville in 1962. In the early 1970s, Charlotte earned her teaching certificate from the University of North Carolina Asheville; worked as a substitute teacher for Asheville City Schools; and built a solar house with her best friend, Jo Silver, as Hardly Able Construction Company.
A devoted homemaker, she cherished working in the yard and garden, and created a warm home that always welcomed and entertained diverse guests and family. In the 1990s she worked as a greeter at Earth Fare, which her son, Roger Jr., founded. She devoted much of her time in that decade and the following to her work with the Asheville Symphony Guild, was instrumental in developing the Guild's Musical Feasts, and served as chair of the feasts for several years.
Charlotte was a proud democrat, enjoyed putting together puzzles, singing along to jazz classics, traveling with her family, and was particularly fond of recounting an interaction with Jon Stewart while viewing a taping of The Daily Show during a trip to New York. Just two nights before her passing, she inspected her house, pointed out which plants needed watering, danced with her daughter, Carol, and played two hands of gin rummy with her children.
Charlotte is survived by her sister, Llewellyn Estep, of Williamsburg, Va.; son, Roger Jr., and his wife, Janese, of Asheville, and Roger's daughter, Katie, of New York; daughter, Julia Rome, and her husband, David, of Frankfort, Ky., and their two sons, Justin and Jeremy; daughter, Carol Neely, and her husband, Steve, of Rutherfordton, and their three sons, Morgan and Carter of Asheville, and Hart and his wife, Jen, of Cincinnati, Ohio; daughter, Patricia, and son, David, of Asheville; great-grandchild, Harper Eames Neely; step-grandchildren, Nathan Rome and his wife, Shannan, Rachel Rome and her husband, Elijiah Israel, and Isaac Gleason; and step-great-grandchildren, Lauren Whiteside, Michal Allen, Gabrielle Israel, Benjamin Rome, Leah Rome, Zoey Parker, Gavin Parker, and Max Gleason.
She was preceded in death by her mother, Winnie Lou, and father, Troy; her brother, Ronnie; and her devoted husband of 56 years, Roger Derrough, Sr.
A public memorial service will be held at Central United Methodist Church at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 20, with the Rev. Dr. Rob Blackburn officiating. The family will receive friends in the Fellowship Hall immediately following the service.
The family wishes to extend and express their profound gratitude to the staff of CarePartners Hospice and Palliative Care for their guidance and compassion, and to Caroline and Ruth of the Center for End of Life Transitions for their extraordinary assistance and deep knowledge and respect.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations in Charlotte's memory to Central United Methodist Church, 27 Church St., Asheville, N.C., 28801; the Yancey History Association's Rush Wray Museum, 3 Academy St., Burnsville, N.C., 28714; and the Center for End of Life Transitions, 12 Von Ruck Court, Asheville, N.C., 28801.