Velma Burnley Boone’s First Female Mayor Passes

Last Updated on March 20, 2019 6:09 pm

Velma Burnley the first female Mayor of Boone passed away on Tuesday at the age of 97.

Burnley served as the Mayor from 1989 until 2005. Before that she was a member of the Boone Town Council for two years. Her other notable contributions to Boone and the county include – Vice President of Northwestern Bank, President of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and a founding member of the Watauga County Humane Society. 

The funeral will be held Monday March 25. 

Obituary from Hampton Funeral Home

Velma Rose Combs Burnley, first woman mayor of Boone, North Carolina credited with putting Boone on the map with her economic development, died March 19, 2019 at Sardis Oaks Retirement Center in Charlotte at the age of 97.  She was mayor of Boone 16 years.

Born on November 14, 1921 to Charles and Rose Mast Combs in Vilas, North Carolina, she graduated Cove Creek High School at the age of 16.  She attended Queens College, now Queens University of Charlotte.  After marriage, she was blessed with her only child, a daughter, Lynn Kellam of Charlotte.  Madonna, her precious little dog, gave Velma years of joy!

Another first, Velma’s employment with Northwestern Bank in Boone, which is now Wells Fargo, resulted in becoming the first woman vice-president.  She attributed becoming mayor to networking with townspeople while with the bank.  She was elected to the Boone Town Council in 1987 and became mayor two years later serving in that role until 2005.  She also served on the area board of the Rural Economic Development; President of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce; and was a founding member of the Watauga County Humane Society.

Lynn described her mother as a personable woman, wonderful mother and as a maverick.  She was an avid reader, checking out four or five books from the library, reading them, returning them the next week, repeating the checking out and amazing her daughter.

Velma and Larry Dean Pilkenton married in a lovely wedding ceremony; sadly Dean passed in less than three months following surgery.  His parents loved Velma as a daughter, they were proud of her achievements as they would have been a daughter, they respected and admired her integrity.  Dean’s family shared their parents’ adoring feelings, particularly his sister, Sylvia Pilkenton Icenhour, who considered Velma a sister.  When one gives thought, Velma was always smiling a gorgeous smile for which she will always be remembered.

Velma is survived by her daughter, Lynn Kellam, family members and many special friends.

Visitation will be Monday, March 25, 2019 from 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM at First Baptist Church of Boone, 375 West King Street, Boone, N.C., 28607.  Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 PM at the Church.  Burial will follow at Cove Creek Baptist Church Cemetery, Vilas, N.C.

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Hankins and Whittington Funeral Service, in Charlotte, North Carolina and Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service are in charge of the arrrangements.


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