Courier Obituaries 1-8-20


PICKENS — Sam Wyche, who brought imagination to the sport of football, an AFC Championship to the Cincinnati Bengals, and a joy of life to the players, friends and family around him, died Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, after a short battle with metastatic melanoma. He was 74.

Wyche, who lived in the country town of Pickens for his last 20 years, died at home, surrounded by his family: wife, Jane; daughter, Kerry; and son, Zak, and their families. He had a Renaissance life as an NFL player, a college head coach, pro head coach, broadcaster, amateur magician, pilot, sporting-goods store owner and county council member in Pickens County, his adopted home. He was close to death with heart disease in September 2016, but got a last-minute heart transplant that gave him three more years of life.

“He was funny, brilliant at football, complicated, forward-thinking and a great human being,” said Boomer Esiason, who had an NFL Most Valuable Player season under Wyche’s tutelage in 1988. “This is such a sad day. He meant everything to me. He made me into the quarterback I became.”

“It’s so sad when bad things happen to good people,” said Joe Montana, whose first position coach in the NFL with San Francisco was Wyche, in 1979. “Sam was the best. He’s one of those people that it’s so accurate to say, ‘They don’t make ‘em like him anymore.’”

Wyche had a brief pro football career, starting nine games for the expansion Bengals in Cincinnati (1968-’70) under then-coach Paul Brown. He then played as a backup in Washington (1971-’73), Detroit (1974) and St. Louis (1976). Familiar with Bill Walsh from Walsh’s days as an offensive assistant in Cincinnati, Wyche got hired on Walsh’s first coaching staff in San Francisco as quarterbacks coach in 1979. His first NFL student was a rookie named Joe Montana.

“Sam was exactly what I needed early in my career,” Montana said. “He was a great teacher. I was a practical joker, and Sam was great at that, too. He had a way of making you feel so good when you were feeling your worst.”

They stayed close for years after Wyche left the 49ers to be the head coach at Indiana University in 1983. Despite a 3-8 season with the Hoosiers, Wyche was Brown’s choice to coach the Bengals in 1984.

Immediately Wyche pressed the envelope in the NFL, giving quarterback Ken Anderson and Esiason independence to change plays and run a wide-open offense. It was Wyche who eventually instituted the no-huddle offense that frustrated defenses league-wide and led Esiason to be a dominant NFL quarterback.

“He entrusted me with his brainchild, the no-huddle offense, and we were able to make it something great,” Esiason recalled. “Sam was always trying to come up with something new and different, and it’s amazing how often he was able to do that.”

He often said football should be fun, and players play better when they enjoy what they’re doing. Choreographed by Wyche, the Cincinnati offense exploded for a league-best 448 points in 1988. Cincinnati made the Super Bowl that season against Wyche’s old mentor, Walsh, and former pupil, Montana. And it was Montana who led a late drive for the 49ers to beat Cincinnati 20-16.

That was only part of what made Wyche the person he was. Before his first game as an NFL head coach in 1984, he posed for the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer in a tuxedo, pulling a rabbit out of a top hat. He loved magic, and performed it often — including at a Christmas show at a Cincinnati orphanage in December 1984, during the season.

Most head coaches would do their charitable works in the offseason, but Wyche would do them anytime, anyplace. “I love magic,” he once said. “I love seeing the kids’ faces when I can make them marvel at something I was able to do.”

“Of course Sam was brilliant at football,” said Cris Collinsworth, a wide receiver for the Bengals during Wyche’s tenure and current color commentator for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. “But the thing I hope people see in Sam is the human side. He didn’t sleep much, and I know many mornings he’d be out in Cincinnati, giving money or sandwiches to the homeless, or just listening to their stories. He cared so much more about people, about relationships, and in particular about racial relationships. People were much more important to Sam than football.”

He then coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for four seasons before beginning a career as an NFL TV analyst. His final NFL stint came in 2005 and 2006 as quarterbacks coach of the Buffalo Bills. Then he coached at his adopted hometown Pickens High School. His time in Buffalo was about when Wyche contracted the degenerative heart disease cardiomyopathy. As the disease progressed over the next 10 years, he knew one day he would need a transplant. That day came in 2016, and he went to a Charlotte hospital that September to wait for a transplant. With Wyche’s time very short, he got the transplant on Sept. 13. In his last three years, Wyche became a fervent advocate for organ donation. At that time, he said, “If I told you that you have a chance to save another person’s life … and you’re going to pass, and you’re not going to need your heart anymore, or your liver, or your pancreas, you would give it in a heartbeat. All you do is go by the DMV and get an insignia put on your driver’s license. It doesn’t cost a dime. You have a chance to save somebody’s life. … Infants can donate a body part. A 71-year-old man can do the same.”

Born in Atlanta in 1945, Wyche played football and earned a bachelor of arts degree at Furman University. He later got his masters in business administration at the University of South Carolina.

Wyche is survived by his wife of 54 years, Jane Underwood Wyche, of Pickens; his daughter, Kerry Wyche, of Velva, N.D., and her children, Ryan, Caroline and Hank Bodine; his son, Zak Wyche, and his wife, Jennifer, of Cincinnati, and their children, Maddy, Sammy and Jack Wyche.

He is also survived by his brother, Bubba Wyche, and his wife, Lindy, of Atlanta.

Sam was firm in his Christian faith and believed that you preach your own funeral every day by your faith and actions. In honor of his wishes, no services will be held. Memorials may be made to the Sam Wyche Scholarship Fund at Furman University, 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613, Donate Life at, or to Rock Springs Baptist Church, 201 Rock Springs Road, Easley, SC 29640.


PICKENS — Thomas Daniel White, 64, husband of the late Trudy Collins White, passed away on Monday Dec. 30, 2019.

Danny loved racing and hunting and could fix anything that you put in front of him.

He is survived by a sister, Kathy; a son, Ballew; a grandson, Daniel; and nephews, Joseph “Hoss” Collins and Mike (Joni) Shed.

He was predeceased by his wife, Trudy; his parents, John and Bonnie White; a son, Billy Ballew, and a brother, Donnie White.

Funeral services for Danny were held on Jan. 6 at Mt. Carmel #1 church.

Mountain View Funeral Home is serving the White family.


EASLEY — Our beloved storyteller, sweet husband and loving father James “Jim” Edward Axelson passed away peacefully on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.

Born in Syracuse, N.Y., on March 6, 1951, to Ray and Ethel Axelson, Jim loved spending time in the outdoors with his father and grandfather. Many canoe and backpacking trips as a Boy Scout solidified his love of nature, which continued throughout his life. He met his wife, Janie, in high school, and they have been laughing and working together ever since. They were married on March 21, 1972, in the Logan Utah temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He received an associate degree from Alfred State College and worked in the construction industry as a building inspector for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he oversaw the building of 50 church meetinghouses throughout the Northeast, Midwest, South and Canada. For the last 31 years, he has been the owner and operator of Greenville County-based A.C. Chem-Dry Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning.

An avid woodcarver and lover of people, Jim always had an optimistic and faith-filled attitude. He encouraged all to “Look for the good.”

He has touched thousands of lives with his unselfish and dedicated service in the Boy Scouts and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, through his service as a Scoutmaster, Elders Quorum President and Bishop. Most recently, he served as the Greenville Stake President, where he humbly led more than 4,300 Latter-day saints in the Anderson, Greenville 1st, Greenville 3rd, Greenwood, Seneca, Simpsonville 2nd, and Simpsonville 3rd Wards for the last six years.

He was preceded in death by his father, Raymond, and survived by his mother, Ethel Mae; wife, Janie; sisters, Lynn Barry (Tom) and Diane Miller (Ken); daughters, Alison Howells (Ryan) and Heidi Johansen (Aaron); sons, Joshua Axelson (Erin) and Jacob Axelson (Nadia); and 15 grandchildren, Noah, Benjamin, William, Samuel and Emma Howells; Madilyn Yates (William), Zoie Rodrigues (Bryan), Silvia, Jacobi and Sadie Johansen, Abby, Phoebe and Shelby Axelson; and Maya and Zayn Axelson.

A memorial service was held on Jan. 6 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An interment with immediate family was held at Liberty Memorial Gardens in Liberty following the memorial service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests you donate to the Cottingham House at Hospice of the Foothills, c/o Oconee Memorial Foundation, In Memory of James Axelson, 298 Memorial Drive, Seneca, SC 29672, Phone: 864-885-7912.

Online condolences may be expressed to the family by visiting Liberty Mortuary is handling arrangements.


EASLEY — Mr. Horace Alfred Kelley, 86, husband of Shirley Carpenter Kelley, passed away Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

Born in Salem, a son of the late Robert Edward Kelley and the late Esther Rochester Kelley, Mr. Kelley was a retired U.S. Navy veteran with 20 years of service and later retired from Michelin Tire with 20 years of service. He was a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church.

Surviving, in addition to his wife of 61 years, are a daughter, Sheila Kelley Asher (Jeff) of Tucker, Ga.; two sons, James Harold Kelley and Jack Andrew Kelley (Tammy), both of Easley; a sister, Frances Crane of Pickens; and four grandchildren, Sierra Kelley Keefe, Jacob M. Asher, Samuel K. Asher and Joseph A. Kelley.

In addition to his parents, Mr. Kelley was predeceased by a daughter, Karen Marie Kelley; and four brothers, Robert D. Kelley, Charles L. Kelley, J. Harold Kelley and Elmer “Bud” Kelley.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Pickens. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Department 142, Memphis, TN 38148.

Visit or Robinson Funeral Home & Crematory-Downtown, Easley.


EASLEY — Mrs. Brenda Knecht Massingill, 72, wife of Robert Ronald Massingill Sr., went to be with her Lord and Savior Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.

Born in Oconee County, a daughter of the late John Ansel Knecht Sr. and the late Marie Young Knecht, Mrs. Massingill was a homemaker and a member of Pickens View Wesleyan Church.

Surviving, in addition to her husband of 52 years, are a son, Robert Ronald Massingill Jr. (Wendy) of Easley; a daughter, Tami N. Massingill of Easley; and two grandchildren, Spencer and Haley Massingill.

In addition to her parents, Mrs. Massingill was predeceased by a brother, John Ansel Knecht Jr.; and two sisters, Joan Gosnell and Carolyn Ohman.

Funeral services were held on Jan. 4 in the chapel of Robinson Funeral Home-Downtown. Burial followed at Westview Cemetery in Easley.

Memorials may be made in memory of Brenda to the North Georgia School of Gospel Music, 500 Washington St., SE, Gainesville, GA 30501.

Visit or Robinson Funeral Home & Crematory-Downtown, Easley.


PICKENS — Dale Whitmire, 65, husband of 33 years to Karen Lee Whitmire, passed away on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.

Dale is survived by his wife, Karen; his father, Jack Curtis Whitmire of Pickens; daughter, Amanda (Zeb) Pittman of Dacusville; sons, Riley (Alissa) Whitmire of Pickens and Alex Whitmire of Pickens; sisters, Glenda (Mark) Collins of Pickens and Judy (Bobby) Patrick of Pickens; brothers, Rodney Whitmire of Pickens and Roger (Lisa) Whitmire of Pickens; grandchildren, Madison Whitmire, Alaina Whitmire, Aaliyah Whitmire, Ada-Kate Pittman and a bonus grandson, Thomas Whitmire.

He was predeceased by his mother, Blanche Maomi Whitmire.

The family would like to say thank you to Agape Hospice of the Upstate and a special caregiver, Susan Cash, for their outstanding care of Mr. Whitmire.

A funeral service was held on Jan. 7 in the chapel of Mountain View Funeral Home, with burial following at Red Hill Baptist Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Agape Hospice of the Upstate at 529 Mills Ave., Greenville, SC 29605 or the Cancer Society of Greenville County at 113 Mills Ave., Greenville, SC 29605.

Mountain View Funeral Home is serving the Whitmire family.


CLEMSON — William Victor VanDaele, 73, of 107 Folger St., passed away peacefully on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, at Dominion Senior Living.

Born in Armada, Mich., he was a son of the late Victor and Barbara Jay VanDaele.

He was a graduate of Michigan State University and later retired from Wickes Agriculture.

Surviving are two sons, Paul VanDaele of Clemson and Mike VanDaele and his wife Joy of Clemson; a sister, Vici Pierce of Emmett, Mich.; a brother, Lou VanDaele of Des Moines, Iowa; and two grandchildren, Emma and Sarah VanDaele.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a son, Todd William VanDaele, and a brother, Bob VanDaele.

No services are planned at this time.

Online condolences may be left for the family by visiting Liberty Mortuary and Cremation Services is handling arrangements.


PICKENS — David Edward Nix (Ed), 81, husband of 48 years to Delia Atenzia Nix, passed away on Sunday Jan. 5, 2020.

Ed is survived by his wife, Delia; a son, Tim (Melody) Nix of Pickens; a brother, Robert (Kathy) Nix of Six Mile; and a sister, Nancy (Charlie) Young of Florida.

He was predeceased by his parents, Robert E. Nix and Veda Breazeale Nix.

A visitation will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 8, from 2-3 p.m. in the chapel of Mountain View Funeral Home, with a memorial service to follow at 3 p.m. in the chapel

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Delia Nix in care of Magnolia Manor of Greenville, 411 Ansel St., Greenville, SC 29601-3407.

The family will be at the residence of Ed’s brother Robert at 474 Belle Shoals Road, Six Mile, SC 29682, following the memorial service on Wednesday.

Mountain View Funeral Home is serving the Nix family.


EASLEY — Brenda Faye Garrett, 77, passed on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, at her home in Easley after an extended illness.

Mrs. Garrett was born on April 2, 1942, in Easley to the late Jep and Geneva Suddeth. She was also predeceased by her brother, Robert Suddeth of Rosman, N.C.

She was a retired employee of Hardee’s, Dayco and Liberty Elementary School.

She is survived by her four sons, Ricky Garrett, Randy Garrett, Rusty Garrett and Runt Garrett; four grandsons and one precious granddaughter.

She is also survived by her sister-in-law and best friend, Mary Leslie; and lifelong friends Brenda Bagwell Gatlin and Becky Gardo.

A graveside service was held on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, at Greenlawn Memorial Park.

Linda Olivia Alexander Brooks

Calhoun Falls — Mrs. Linda Olivia Alexander Brooks, 79, of Calhoun Falls, formerly of Pickens County, wife of the late Edward Eugene Brooks, passed away on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, at Heardmont Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Mrs. Brooks was born in Easley on Dec. 17, 1940, daughter of the late Ralph and Frances Kelley Alexander. She was a janitor, having retired from BASF in Norris.

Survivors include her daughter, Geraldine and Von Rogers; granddaughter, Bailey and Mitch Little; great-granddaughters, Madelyn Layla Little and Ella Vaughn Little; and sisters, Carol James and Joann Mozer of Pickens.

In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by her sister, Judy Alexander.

Graveside services will be held on Thursday, Jan. 9, at 2 p.m. at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Pickens. The family will greet friends immediately following the service.


CENTRAL — Joel Maverick Davis, our little 18-month-old angel, went to be with Jesus on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, at our home.

He was the sweetest little boy who loved being with his family and playing with his brothers. Born in Greenville, he was a son of Cody Davis and Cassie Pilgrim Davis.

He is also survived by two brothers, Levi and Huck; one aunt, B.J. Stoner (Sepp); two uncles, Jaron and Jordan Dalton; grandparents, Darren and Sharon Pilgrim, Steve and Tina Davis, and Eric and Susan Kilstrom; and great-grandparents, Gladys Ellenburg, Barbara Barefoot, Elaine Pilgrim, Margaret Kilstrom and Charles and Becky Johnston.

Funeral services to honor Joel’s life were conducted on Jan. 3 at Liberty Mortuary. Private burial will take place at Ramsey Creek Preserve at a later date.

Online condolences may be left for the family by visiting Liberty Mortuary is handling arrangements.


CENTRAL — Shirley Faye Chappell Berry, 67, passed away on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, at Greenville Memorial Hospital.

Shirley was born in Pickens County, a daughter of Mettie Rebecca George Chappell of Central and the late Calvin Chappell. She was of the Church of God faith. Shirley enjoyed stock car racing and loved kids.

Surviving are her son, Roger Dale Berry of Central; brothers, Rev. Vernell Chappell (Phyllis) of Liberty and Edward Chappell of Central; sisters, Frances Davis (Ronnie), Elizabeth Holder (Luther) and Linda Rowland (Paul), all of Central, and Geraldine Wilson and Joyce Fincannon (Mike), both of Central; grandchildren, Brady Berry, Brianna Berry and Nathaniel James Berry; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held on Jan. 2 in the chapel of Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home, with burial following in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Central.

Visit or Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home & Cremations, Central-Clemson Commons.


LIBERTY — Sandra Lee Baker Haynie, 72, of N. Old Pendleton Road, wife of the late James D. “Jimmy” Haynie, passed away on Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, at her home.

Born in Pickens County, she was the daughter of the late Claude and Ealie Chappell Baker.

Mrs. Haynie was employed with Lankford Insurance Company prior to her illness. She was a member of Winding Creek Baptist Church, where she enjoyed playing the piano, going to camp meetings and serving in many church activities.

Surviving are a son, Phil Black (Donna) of Greer; grandchildren, Deven and Adam Black; and brothers, Leonard Baker of Dacusville and Dawson Baker of Greer.

In addition to her husband and parents, she was predeceased by a brother, Hosea Baker.

A funeral service was held on Jan. 2 at Robinson Funeral Home-Downtown in the funeral home chapel. Burial was held in Greenlawn Memorial Park.

Visit or Robinson Funeral Home and Crematory-Downtown, Easley.


BOILING SPRINGS — Jack George Burth Jr., 91, of Boiling Springs, born on March 22, 1928, went to be with his Lord on Dec. 29, 2019.

Born in Jamaica, N.Y, he was the son of the late John F. Burth Sr. and Elizabeth Klein Burth and husband to the late Rose Helga Dierks Burth.

He leaves behind his three children, Robert Burth (Connie) of Easley, Lynn Patrick (Mark) of Charlotte, N.C., and Aileen Califano of Boiling Springs; and six grandchildren, John Burth of Greenville, Henry Burth (Caitlin) of Eden, Md., Amanda Meares (Reece) of Easley, Brett Patrick (Ashley) of Rock Hill, Evan Patrick of Charlotte, N.C. and Nicholas Califano of Greenville. Mr. Burth was predeceased by two brothers and was the last of his siblings.

Jack, known by most as John, was a very intelligent man who loved history, going to movies and watching his history show “Ancient Aliens.” He loved a meal bought with a coupon or a buy-one-get-one-free meal deal. He may have been a man who rarely smiled, but he enjoyed working with people as a volunteer with Spartanburg County Government Administration Offices, which he did for many years. John never met a stranger. Mr. Burth was retired from route sales/management of various snack food companies.

A service was held at the Dillard Funeral Home chapel on Jan. 3. Burial was held at Hillcrest Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Spartanburg Regional Foundation, 101 E. Wood St., Spartanburg, SC 29303.

Dillard Funeral Home is assisting the Burth family.

Online condolences may be sent to


PICKENS — Robert Carl Durham, 71, husband of the late Gail Shelton Durham, passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.

He is survived by children, Renee Durham (Marty Prince) of Pickens, Heather Durham Green (Jeff) of Dacusville and Travis Durham (Tabitha Pauley) of Pickens; his first wife, Myra Reeves; stepchildren, Amanda Hand, Nikki Proffitt and Dee Poland; grandchildren, Azleigh and Adelynn Prince, Kaiden and Knox Green; nine stepgrandchildren; sisters, Betty Jo Stratton, Helen Martha Coleman and Margaret Ann Whitmire; and a brother, Ronnie J. Durham.

He was predeceased by his wife, Gail; his parents, Theodore Bruce Durham and Virgie Mae Masters Durham; a grandson, Kingston Green; and brothers, Winfred Claude Durham and Harold Durham.

Robert loved NASCAR, Corvettes, tractors, South Carolina Gamecocks and most of all his beloved cat, Booger.

Funeral services for Robert will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4, at Mountain View Funeral Home. Visitation will be held in the chapel an hour prior starting at 1 p.m.

Mountain View Funeral Home is serving the Durham family.