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Native author passes away

By Clint Parker

Biltmore Forest – A Leicester-raised woman who wrote a book about growing up in the area has died. Jean Boone Benfield, 82, of Biltmore Forest, died Saturday, December 7th.

According to her obituary, Benfield “…was born in the Haw Creek section of Buncombe County, the daughter of Glenn J. Boone and Emma Holmes Boone. In 1946 her family moved to Bear Creek Road near Leicester, and in 1955 she was a member of the last graduating class in the old West Buncombe High School.”

Benfield’s book, Mountain Born was reviewed in 2018 by the Leader.
Benfield’s book, Mountain Born was reviewed in 2018 by the Leader.

The Leader did a book review of her 240-page paperback Mountain Born last year. “In Mountain Born Benfield recalls life in Leicester from an adolescent point-of-view with adult knowledge to tell what it all meant to her. She not only tells her life from way back when, she also uses the vernacular from the very politically incorrect days,” stated our 2018 review of the book.

Her obituary goes on to say, “Jean was very proud of her rural heritage, and of her English and Scot ancestors who came to America in the seventeenth century. They were among the first settlers in Buncombe County. She was a descendant of Israel Boone, brother of American frontiersman Daniel.

“She loved the country people, cherishing a way of life she knew growing up in the 1940s and 1950s. Jean wrote a book, Mountain Born, a recollection of life and language in Western North Carolina. In particular, she took great delight in the old words and sayings of the mountain people. Research and genealogy were two of her great interests. She revered Western Civilization and its foundation, Christianity.

“Reading was a lifetime’s passion; English history, mysteries, spy novels and historical fiction. She enjoyed her house, decorating, needlepoint, cooking, and keeping fit. For many years she hiked in her beautiful mountains. She regarded those times spent in her hiking boots as some of her happiest. Observing nature and four-legged creatures gave her much pleasure. She adored animals, especially her Welsh corgis.

“She was a patron of the Old Buncombe Genealogical Society, Asheville, the Buncombe County Humane Society, the Richard and Jean Benfield Endowment Fund at AB Tech Community College, and the Richard and Jean Benfield Endowment Fund at Hillsdale College.”

A graveside service was held at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery on Riceville Road. “Jean is survived by her beloved husband, Richard A. Benfield, a daughter, Kimberly Jean Daily, of Greece, son Glenn Daily of Asheville, two brothers, Jack Boone of Colorado, Glenn Boone of Weaverville, and a step daughter, Diane Benfield of Florida.”

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