BOONE — Fond memories of how George Wyatt Ligon’s smile could light up a room and the infectious nature of Michelle Annette Ligon’s laugh were shared during the joint funeral service for the couple on May 8.

The service took place at Boone United Methodist Church with the help of Jenkins Funeral Home in Newton. The Rev. Kathy Beach, pastor of Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church in Blowing Rock — where George was a member — presided over the service. A limited number of people were allowed to the service in person; about 270 people joined via a live stream video on the Boone UMC Facebook.

The service fell just 10 days after the couple’s death at their home in Boone on April 28.

“Their deaths and the deaths of three others in our community have shocked and hurt us all to our core,” Beach said. “This afternoon as we worship, I want to acknowledge both our hope grounded in our Christian faith, and our shock and grief. While I believe that hope prevails, I don’t want to minimize the pain that is real and the sorrow that is palpable.”

Having fallen in love 17 years ago, the Ligons would have celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary in August. Beach said George loved to play practical jokes, while Michelle loved to craft. The two complemented each other so well; and each one good to and for the other, Beach said. The two loved attending MerleFest together, as well as dressing up to attend Horn in the West or visit Tweetsie.

The Ligons were both avid participants in Quiet Givers, a local nonprofit that works behind the scenes to fundraise for those in need. Beach said the phrase “quiet givers” wasn’t just limited to the organization that George and Michelle contributed to, but was also within the ethos of who they were. They were also quiet givers to their friends, family, coworkers and community.

“George once made a New Year’s resolution that he would try to make 100 people smile every day,” Beach said. “That’s because the previous year he had only said he was going to try to make 75 people smile every day, and that was too easy.”

George loved Appalachian State University football, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tarheel’s basketball, the High Country, fishing, the beach, bluegrass music, darts and relaxing with friends. Beach said George was generous and had a humble way of caring. George had served as branch manager of Terminix of the Triad for more than 20 years.

From July 2010 until her passing, Michelle served as director of public relations and social media at Explore Boone. Beach shared that Michelle loved her community, had an eye for what was the perfect thing when crafting, had a deep empathy for others and a compassion for people and pets. She was also devoted to her family.

“We celebrate her gifts as a mother, who fiercely loved Sommer and Isaac, who fiercely loved to protect them, wanting the very best for her children,” Beach said.

Beach said it was their quiet, giving, caring spirits that the Ligons exuded until the end. The Ligons welcomed Michelle’s son, Isaac Barnes, into their home when he was struggling with mental illness.

“They loved him and tried to get him the help he needed,” Beach said. “They quietly gave and gave.”

Although a “messy, painful and hard,” topic to discuss, Beach spoke about mental illness during the service.

“It’s a topic about which I am not an expert, but I, like every one of you, have been impacted by it. If you didn’t think you had been before, the tragic deaths of George and Michelle, Sgt. Chris Ward, Deputy Logan Fox and Isaac Barnes in this community mean we have all been impacted now.”

She said she is sure that the families of George and Michelle Ligon were not the only families at the service who had been touched by mental illness and its many facets — such as addiction, homelessness, abuse, neglect, estrangement and self harm.

Beach added that she believes that it is God’s hope and desire for humans to “live as the whole people we were created to be.” Beach said that as it is God’s desire, it must be the desire for humans as well.

“I trust and believe that George and Michelle believed this to their core,” Beach said. “We belong to each other, and so we must be committed to work together to enter the hard work of helping those who suffer from mental illness to become the flourishing people that God intended. As we and this High Country lift our eyes to the hills, as the psalmist says, may we gain our strength and be reminded that God calls us to love one another, to care for one another, to share with one another, just as George and Michelle so quietly and humbly modeled for us.”

The obituary for George Ligon can be found at www.jenkinsfuneralhome.net/obituary/George-Ligon. The obituary for Michelle Ligon can be found at www.jenkinsfuneralhome.net/obituary/Michelle-Ligon.

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