ASHEVILLE- Doward J. Gentry, “D.J” 90, of Asheville, passed away Monday, November 5, 2018 at Valor Hospice at the VA Hospital in Asheville, after a short battle with suspected pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Gentry was born November 22, 1927 to the late John and Dora Shelton Gentry in the Shelton Laurel community of Madison County. Doward was preceded in death by his parents, and his eight siblings, Chester, Roxie, Joe, Eppie, Dewey, Muncie, Carson, Russell and their spouses. He is also predeceased by wife of 65 years, Robena Tweed Gentry who died February 13, 2018, as well as his daughter, Connie Lynne Gentry who died on January 18, 2011.
Mr. Gentry is survived by his son, Dean Gentry and his wife Pam of La Grange, GA as well as daughters, Sharon Owen and her husband Rusty, and Kimberly Gentry Justus, and her husband Steve Williams, of Asheville, as well as stepson Ray Tweed, of Marshall. He is also survived by grandchildren: Aben Gentry (Tamara), Chelsea Gentry, Hannah Patterson (Grant), Mason Gentry (Natasha), Katelin Bell, Matthew Owen, Meredith Thomas (Paul), Aidan Mae Justus, Jessica Tweed (Kenny Deweese) and Jennifer Ball (Lee). Great-grandchildren: Laurie Gentry, Gideon Cuadrado, Judah Cuadrado, Liv Patterson, Maple Gentry, Harper Gentry, Vera Gentry, Taryn Bell, Maddox Richardson, Trent Deweese, Sarah Ball, and Graham Thomas, as well as sisters-in-law, Ama Lee Cutshall and Barbara C. Tweed, brothers-in-law, Carl Tweed (Barbara H.), Harry Tweed (Bertha) and many special nieces and nephews and friends.
During his childhood in Madison County, Doward learned how to grow vegetables, hunt, fish and grew into a strong, handsome, self-sufficient young man with both a twinkle in his eye and a solid, “what you see is what you get” manner. He loved the sport of baseball. The 1946 Laurel Catamounts were undefeated partially due to his skill as a catcher and his power when swinging a bat.
Just before shipping off to Korea to fight in the war in 1952, Doward married his childhood friend and neighbor Robena Tweed. Together they raised a family, and Doward completed a distinguished twenty-two year career is the United States Army, earning the rank of Sergeant First Class. He traveled the world visiting many countries, and was stationed in a variety of places including Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, Manheim and Stuttgart, Germany, Aberdeen and Ft. Meade, Maryland. He also served his country by fighting in the Vietnam War.
After retiring from service in 1974, he moved from Maryland to his beloved mountains and settled in Black Mountain, and finally Asheville, NC. He worked for Montreat College, retired from Burlington Industries, and worked for ten years at Caldwell Well Drilling making dear friendships along the way.
Doward enjoyed bowling for “socialization” as he would say, and in his retirement bowled on three leagues faithfully. He continued to grow everything from vegetables to fruit trees. As a child of the Great Depression, he knew the importance of having the ability to grow and preserve his food. He insisted on canning copious amounts of applesauce, and quart after quart of green beans each year, and well as freezing corn and a variety of berries. He hunted for deer and turkey, and fished mountain streams for trout. He worked on his tractor, plowing his garden, mowed his own acreage and drove himself anywhere he wanted to go up until late July when an upset stomach eventually became a cancer diagnosis. It was especially surprising to us all because he was the picture of health and vitality, with the body of a seventy year old in his 90’s. Still, with death approaching, he handled himself the same way he lived his life, with bravery and strength. He relished in the love he felt from his many friends, and of course his beloved family. He was so proud of us. “He was a good man, and larger than life” is the repeated sentiment we have heard from family and friends.
Please join us as we celebrate the life of this special man. Receiving of Friends will be Friday, November 9, 2018 6:00-8:00 pm at West Funeral Home, Weaverville. Funeral to take place Saturday, November 10, 2018 at 11:00 am at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, 200 Mount Carmel Rd., Asheville, NC 28806. Burial will follow in Chapel Hill Baptist Church Cemetery, Marshall, with the US Army providing military honors.
Flowers are welcome or please consider making a memorial donation to Mount Carmel Church, 200 Mount Carmel Road, Asheville, NC 28806 or Victory Baptist Church’s Meal Delivery Program, 80 Olivette Road, Asheville, NC 28804.
The family would like to thank the amazing team of doctors and nurses at the VA Hospital, especially the dedicated, caring nurses on 4-West, and well as the Palliative Care team and staff of Valor Hospice.
For those who desire, condolences may be offered to the family under Mr. Gentry’s obituary at www.WestFamilyFuneralServices.com.