The Ocracoke Methodist Church was packed yesterday afternoon for the funeral of Blanche O'Neal Styron. (For regular readers of this journal, please note that this is NOT my cousin Blanche who lives across the lane on Howard Street.)
Blanche Styron was born in 1922. She and her husband David moved north after they were married, but returned to their island home in the early 1960s. For many years Blanche was the driving force behind the Methodist Church and the Ocracoke School. She was outspoken and forthright, but I never knew a person who was offended by her frankness. She always told it like she saw it, but was never judgmental. It was OK if you disagreed with her. She'd let you know exactly where she stood, but she never shunned you or disowned you if you didn't agree with her. As so many people said during the funeral, she was a delight to be around, because she always tempered her 0pinions with good humor. After the funeral Ernest Cutler, former school principal, remarked that he often heard this from Blanche when she was president of the PTA: "I'll need three volunteers...you, you, and you!" We all agreed that a building at the school or the church should be named after Blanche. So much that was accomplished here on the island in the '60s, '70s, & '80s we owe to Blanche.
As so often happens here on the island, Blanche died at home with her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren by her side.
The last time I visited with her she kept me entertained for more than an hour with stories and tales from long ago. I treasure every moment I spent with her. If only we all could be so forthright!
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2008 Portsmouth Island Homecoming. You can read it here.