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Obituaries for February 25, 2020; Deane Briegel, Ronnie Byers, Barbara Thomason, Nicholas Parks, Brenda Brown, Benjamin Hitt, Glenda Reeves

Deane Briegel

Deane Graham Gooch Briegel, 97, passed away peacefully Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at her home in Jasper. She was born Clara Deane Graham on January 27, 1923 to Lee Roy and Clara Patterson Graham in Savannah, Georgia. 

Deane is survived by son, Blake Gooch of Jasper; daughter, Donna Dewitt Willis of Houston, Texas; beloved nieces, Brenda Symons Smith and Candy Townsend Rogers of Savannah, Georgia; beloved nephew, Leonard Young III of Morrow, Georgia; step-children, Mike and Claire Briegel of Spring Hill, Florida, and Louis, Jr. and Laurie Briegel of Canton, Georgia. Dean's extended family of grandchildren, great- and great, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews range from Georgia to Texas.

She was preceded in death by husbands, Herbert Dewitt, William "Bill" A. Gooch, and Lou Briegel; daughter, Harriet Dewitt Coe and sons, Jim Gooch and Joel Gooch.

In 1969 Deane moved from Sandy Springs, Georgia to Jasper with husband Bill Gooch and sons Joel and Blake. It was here that she continued her career as an organ and piano teacher. She taught many local children as a private piano teacher in a small studio at the old Jasper Elementary School. In her home she instructed many younger adult students on a Hammond B-3 organ and an upright piano. Good music was part of her life and work, and the Gooch home was often filled with recorded and live music during her teaching years.

Deane was also organist at Jasper First Baptist Church for many years where she and her family were members. Prior to coming to Jasper she had served as organist at Buckhead Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

After ending her career as a music teacher and organist, Deane took over the family framing business started by her husband Bill. She deeply enjoyed connecting again with her community in this way. She was happy to support, and to be supported by, a thriving artistic community in this area. Her exceptional attention to detail further expanded the reputation of Gooch Framing well beyond Jasper, Bent Tree and Big Canoe. Like the beautiful music that filled her home, many pieces of interesting and compelling artworks covered the walls of her home and studio.

In the late 1990s Deane sold her frame shop and retired from professional life. She was content to look back on two very satisfying careers, took great pride in the successes of her students and whenever she saw a piece of artwork in homes and businesses that she'd framed. 

Later in her life Deane married Lou Briegel whom she had known for many years prior from their involvement with he Jasper Lions Club, managing local elections and other civic activities. In her marriage to Lou she found a sense of happiness and peace that was well deserved at the end of her long life.

As a mother, Deane loved and supported each of her children. Though her children were often living far from her, she encouraged their independence and always enjoyed having them come home to visit or to stay for extended periods. She was mother and step-mother and friend as best as she could be to all her children without distinction.  Deane's granddaughters Monica and Wendee Willis remembered Deane as more than "a grandma, great grandma, and a great great grandma. She loved traveling, fashion, food and most of all she loved spending time with family and friends."

Deane was especially close with her extended family in Savannah. Her visits with them were always occasions of much laughter, good food, and many hugs. She especially loved the beach at Tybee Island. Each summer for about 10 years she would gather with her sister and nieces at an ancient beach house for a week-long reunion. She often recalled those beach years as some of the best years of her life.

Travel and camping with her family also gave her many years of enjoyment and pleasure. In 1972 she, Bill and Blake traveled throughout the United States, eastern Canada and into Juarez, Mexico in a home-fashioned camper-van. She was also a founding member of the Sharptop Mountaineers Camping Club. With the Mountaineers she and her family joined other local families camping in many state, national and local camping sites for all the years of the club's active years. Later in her life she overcame her fear of flying and traveled to Ireland with a local travel club. She and Lou traveled to Hawaii and Alaska. She also added the adventure of a cruise with her daughter Donna. She likewise encouraged her son Blake to expand his horizons by living abroad for several years. She was proud of his service to the United States as a Peace Corps volunteer to Mongolia.

Deane was blessed with many life-long friends. Though time, age and circumstances separated her from many of her closest friends, she often spoke of them and treasured their place in her heart. There are too many to mention here.

Following Lou's death in 2018, Deane continued to live at Rock Creek Manor in Jasper where she and Lou moved in 2012. In 2020 her son Blake returned to Jasper and moved Deane in with him, becoming her full-time caregiver. They lived together until her death, just six days shy of her 98th birthday. To the end she maintained her love of good music, delicious food, being as independent as she could be and having her family around her.

Her family is particularly appreciative of the love and deep care provided by Homestead Hospice. In particular we would like to thank: Roxanne Boling, RN, Connie Smith, and Peyton Hughes, CNAs, Rachel Green, MSW, and Rev. Stephen Hawthorne, Chaplain. Additionally, the following friends are forever in our family's hearts for the love and support they showed our mom in her last years: Rev. David Stuart, Leslie Chapman Miller, Lillie Long and Cheryl Wilson. Without them, our efforts to make our mom's life end well would have been much harder. Thank you all.

Arrangements are entrusted to the staff of Roper Funeral Home and Crematory.  


Ronnie Byers

Ronnie H. Byers, 74, of Lexington, SC passed away unexpectedly on February 16, 2021 at Agape Hospice House in Lexington. He was born in Cherokee County, Georgia and has previously lived in Georgia, North Carolina and Illinois before relocating to South Carolina. Ronnie is a former educator in Pickens County, Georgia, having served as a teacher and principal before moving into the insurance field where he was an executive with the Horace Mann Insurance Companies and later with Health Markets before retiring.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Linda Seymour Byers; a son, Sam; a daughter, Kelley Brown (Ted) of Lexington, SC and a son, Andrew Byers, Ph.D. (Miranda) of Durham, U.K.  He is also survived by seven grandchildren, Luke, Colt and Thad Brown of Lexington and Brynn, Hayden, Cavan, and Adalyn Byers of Durham, U.K. and a sister, Connie Connar (Dave) of North Augusta, SC.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Brown and Inez Sperin Byers and a brother, Hugh Byers.

Graveside services were  conducted by Reverend Mark Yoder on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 2 p.m. with interment at Ridge Crest Memorial Park in Batesburg-Leesville, SC.

Donations can be made to the American Stroke Association, 400 Percival Road, Columbia, SC 29206, at, or to a charity of your choice.

Caughman-Harman Funeral Home, Lexington Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements.


Barbara Thomason

Barbara Lee Thomason, 83, of Jasper, Georgia passed away on February 20, 2021 at Pruitt Healthcare in Jasper. Barbara was born May 2, 1937 in Young Harris to the late Charles Lee and Margaret Marie Shepard.

Mrs. Thomason is survived by her children, Jeff and Patti Thomason of Jasper, Jan and Fred Allen of Ellijay, Judy and Brian Pinson of Jasper; grandchildren, Leeanna Allen of Statesboro, Emily Allen of Ellijay, Samantha and Matthew Dunn of Ball Ground, Sarah Pinson of Jasper, Thomas Pinson of Jasper; great-grandchildren, Madison, Molly, and Maggy Dunn; brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Kay Shepard of Social Circle.  Several nieces, nephews and other relatives also survive. She was preceded in death by her husband, Fred Thomason.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m., Wednesday, February 24, 2021 in the Roper Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Preston Jones and Rev. David Stuart officiating. Interment will follow in Sunrise Memorial Garden.

Arrangements are entrusted to the staff of Roper Funeral Home & Crematory in Jasper, GA.

Online condolences can be made at


Nicholas Parks

Nicholas Conner Parks, 37, of Kennesaw, Georgia passed away Saturday, February 13, 2021 at Fannin Regional Hospital. He was born February 12, 1984 in Marietta, Georgia.

Nick was truly a Renaissance man. His zest for life always had him looking for new mountains to climb, caves and rivers to explore, or Burning Man events to attend. He was skilled at many things yet still had an unquenchable thirst for learning. He was constantly searching for things to try, make, cook or challenge him. His sunny nature made him a favorite with children; especially his many nieces and nephews. He never met a stranger in his travels and enjoyed collecting rocks, experiences and friends. He stayed especially close to his friends from school but always had room for a new person in his circle.  

He is survived by his parents, Marlene and David Cousineau of Colorado; brother and sister-in-law, Zack and Kayli Cousineau of Wyoming; sister and brother-in-law, Courtney and Nathan Henderson of Jasper; grandparents, Nancy Salazar of Kennesaw, Joe Salazar of Ft. Walton, Florida, Laura Hodgkinson of Cobb County; nieces and nephews, Gemma Henderson, Wyatt Henderson, Garrett Henderson, Cord Cousineau, and Kinley Cousineau.

He was preceded in death by his father, Billie H. Parks, Jr.

Arrangements are entrusted to the staff of Roper Funeral Home and Crematory.  


Brenda Brown

Brenda Brown, 72, of Jasper, passed away Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at Piedmont Mountainside Hospital. She was born July 22, 1948 to Troy Dean and Lois Pell in Dalton, Georgia.

Brenda is survived by her husband, Jackie Brown of Jasper; sons and daughters-in-law, Shane and Stephanie Duncan of Jasper, Michael Shawn and Tracey Duncan of Chickamauga; grandchildren, Piper Duncan, Willow Duncan, Leah Duncan, Logan Brown, Zack Giles, Ryker Brown, Brianna Brown; great-grandchildren, Kaison and Max; brothers and sisters-in-law, Marty and Jenny Hibberts of Ellijay, Jon and Ximena Usher; special aunt and honorary mother, Jean Usher of Dalton; stepsons, Jason and Miranda Brown, Justin and Dawn Brown.  Several other relatives also survive.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Lois Pell and father, Troy Dean.

Funeral services were held at 2 p.m., Friday, February 19, 2021 in the Chapel of Roper Funeral Home with Brother Scotty Hammontree presiding.  Interment followed in Sunrise Memorial Gardens.

Arrangements are entrusted to the staff of Roper Funeral Home and Crematory.  

Online condolences may be made at


Benjamin Hitt

Benjamin Marion Hitt, 67, of Jasper, passed away Saturday, February 20, 2021 at Roswell Nursing Home. He was born June 23, 1953 to Charlie and Claudine Hitt in Canton.

Benjamin is survived by his children, Jamie Hitt of Dahlonega, Jason Hitt of Dahlonega, Jill Gibson of Dahlonega; sisters, Sharon Mulkey of Jasper, Dianne Roper of Jasper; brothers, Johnny Denny of Jasper, Steve Denny of Jasper, JR Brown of Dalton, Marvin Hitt of Jasper, seven grand-children, one great-grandchild and several nieces and nephews also survive. 

Online condolences may be made at

Arrangements are entrusted to the staff of Roper Funeral Home and Crematory. 


Glenda Reeves

Glenda Gail Reeves, 73, passed away, Friday, February 19, 2021, at Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Jasper, Georgia.

Miss Reeves is survived by her brother, Randall (Charlotte) Reeves of Calhoun, Georgia.  She is also survived by first cousins: Geraldine (John) Moody, Debbie (Tom) Baker, Janice (Aaron) Ingram, Gilla Hammontree, Suzy Hammontree, Shirley Reeves Martin and Charles (Nancy) Reeves and many other extended family members.

Glenda was preceded in death by her parents, Reverend J. B. Reeves and Mrs. Jewell Pettit Reeves and infant sister, Clara Ruth Reeves. She was also preceded in death by first cousins: Edsel Hammontree and Jim Hammontree.

Glenda was employed by Gold Kist for 31 years and Moore Pontiac in Canton for several years where she formed many lasting friendships with people who became a part of her extended family.

Glenda always said that her greatest blessing was the day that the Lord saved her soul. She was a faithful member of Salem Baptist Church in Jasper for 62 years and was the piano player for many years. Glenda had a strong love of all her family and friends and prayed daily for them.  She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

A graveside service will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, February 25, 2021, at Salem Baptist Church in Jasper, Georgia with Reverend Thurston (Buck) Parker officiating.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Salem Baptist Church.

Online condolences may be made at

Arrangements are entrusted to the staff of Roper Funeral Home and Crematory.