Margaret Abernethy Morton, age 102, died Friday, April 28, 2017, at Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community. Her family is thankful for the care she received from the staff, especially Marie and hospice staff.
Margaret was born February 16, 1915, in Kitzmiller, MD, to Otis E. and Sutton Odessa Stansbury Abernethy. She was one of five children. There are two surviving sisters, Eleanor Durvin, 99, of Chapel Hill, NC, and Elaine Rumburg, 95, of Northglenn, CO. Jeanne Thompson and Otis E. Abernethy, Jr, the eldest and youngest siblings, respectively, died earlier.
Her family lived in West Virginia. After attending West Virginia University for one year, she found work in several coal company stores in southern West Virginia. In 1934, she accepted a position in the dry goods department of the Slab Fork Coal Company store, where she worked for over 40 years as the clerk and buyer. She treated the store as if it were her own.
On February 5, 1937, in Mt. Hope, WV, she married Frank Dorsey Morton, also employed by Slab Fork Coal Company. They raised their two daughters, Suzann and Nancy in Slab Fork, sending each of them to Queens College in Charlotte, NC, in the 1958 through 1965 period on the recommendation of their Presbyterian minister, James F. Miller. Both became teachers. After Frank died in Slab Fork in 1972, Margaret's mother continued to live with her until her death in 1978, at which time Margaret moved to West Columbia, SC, to be near her younger daughter, Nancy Scott.
She lived in her own apartment for 37 years, where she frequently, even daily in warm weather, swam in the apartment complex pool. A member of Eastminster Presbyterian Church, she relished driving herself to family events in her own car, well into her 90's. Her 90th birthday party was held in Columbia in 2005 and was attended by over 50 of her relatives, an event that thoroughly delighted her. She also cherished her annual invitation to spend a week at the beach with Nancy and her family, always enjoying the water as much as anyone. To the end of her life, she reveled in competing, playing Scrabble and Spite and Malice with whomever was willing. She rarely lost. Her grandchildren were also a huge source of pleasure.
Surviving are her two daughters, 5 grandchildren, and 9 greatgrandchildren. Her older daughter, Suzann and her husband, Dr. William F. Pharr, of Danville, PA are the parents of three sons: Thorr of Danville, Tarkten, of Elizabeth City, NC, and Nathan, of Malvern, PA. Drs. Tarkten and Maria Engstrom Pharr have three sons: Alexander (21), Cameron (20), and Trevor (16).
Nancy and Blynn Boyd Scott have two daughters, Suzann and Harriett. Suzann and Brian Overton live with their three children, Margaret (19), Caroline (16), and Russell (13), in Brentwood, TN. Harriett and Stephen Pyburn of Marietta, GA, have three children: Connor (13), Bryce (11), and Christina (7).
A memorial service will be held at 11am, Friday, May 19, 2017, in the Adult Reception Hall of Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 3200 Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC 29204. Burial will be at a later time at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens, Beckley, WV. The family will provide flowers and memorial gifts may be made either to the church or to Still Hopes.