Frank Melton Lavender, 85, of Marion, passed away Monday, December 26, 2021 at Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville after several years of declining health.
Frank was born in McDowell County on September 17, 1936, to the late Alfred Lavender and Minnie Smith Lavender. He was lovingly devoted to his wife of 62 years, Bonnie Presnell Lavender. Frank proudly served his country in the United States Army at Fort Hood, Texas during the time of the Vietnam War. Returning home, he worked for Beacon Manufacturing in Swannanoa and retired as a tool and die maker from Southern Devices/Leviton in Morganton, NC after more than 37 years of service. He was a member of Fairview Free Will Baptist Church in Marion, where he served for many years as treasurer and occasionally as a trustee and deacon.
Frank was a quiet and unassuming man who enjoyed a simple country life—gardening, feeding and watching birds and other wildlife at his home, and sitting on his porch or by his garage, watching passing cars and mumbling occasionally about traffic and speeding cars. In his younger years, he enjoyed keeping beagles, chickens, ducks and guineas, and always had an affection for his daughter and grandchildrens’ cats and his own dogs, Gus as a child, and Chuchi in his later years. He enjoyed rabbit hunting with friends and camping with family and friends, especially the late Ralph Thomas and late Ransom Wilson. He spent most of his time, however, tinkering with old cars, working on his classic A-model Roadster and going to antique car shows from time-to-time. He never met a non-functioning machine, plumbing fixture or household appliance he wasn’t willing to take apart and TRY to fix and put back together, and among his successes are also a number boxes full of failed attempts which prove it.
Although his sometimes gruff exterior belied it, he loved his children and grandchildren and would do anything to help them when called upon, whether it was to fix a broken-down car, pay a bill or move furniture. He had a heart of gold and worked a garden several times the size he needed for his family, just so he could share extra vegetables with widows and other friends and church members.
In addition to his parents, Frank was preceded in death by two brothers, Joe Lavender and Robert Lavender (Margaret); a half-sister, Lois Lavender Burgin (Rev. Grady Burgin); a half-brother, Paul Lavender (Lois).
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie Lavender of the home; a son, Michael Lavender of Marion; a daughter, Elizabeth Lavender Gombas (Capt. David Gombas (USN, retired)) of Jacksonville, Florida; two granddaughters, Alexandria Gombas of Jacksonville, Florida and Shala Lavender of Marion; two grandsons, Benjamin Gombas of Jacksonville, Florida and Justin Lavender of Marion; a sister, Inez Anderson (Glenn) of Old Fort; a sister-in-law, Rose Ann Parkins (Walt) of Nebo; sisters-in-law, Christine Presnell, Jean Presnell and Lillian Presnell of Marion, and Ruby Presnell of Columbia, SC; and a number of nieces and nephews.
A funeral service will be conducted at 11:00 a.m., Friday, December 31, 2021, at Fairview Free Will Baptist Church in Marion. Revs. Billy Poteat and Wayne Miller will officiate, with burial to follow in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends at the church from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., prior to the service.