Leonard Joe Hollifield, age 91, well-known local musician and former member of the Stoney Creek Boys, passed away early Saturday morning at his home in Weaverville.
He is survived by his daughter, Amy, of Asheville and his son, Leonard (Lynn), of Fletcher and one brother, Zane (Judy) of Travelers Rest, SC. His wife, Melba, passed away in 2000. He was born August 3, 1926 in Buncombe County to the late Jim and Bertha Hollifield. He was preceded in death by his siblings, Lawrence, Richard, Kenneth, and Margaret.
Leonard proudly served in the US Navy, beginning at the age of 17 during WW II. He was stationed on board the USS Caney (a “fast tanker” that operated in combat zones) in the Pacific Theatre, and was attached to Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey’s Fast Carrier Task Force 38. This task force conducted the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal campaigns in the South Pacific, to include the battle of Okinawa.
He returned from the war to play semi-pro baseball for 3 years in the Western North Carolina Industrial League as a short-stop and third baseman. Also after the war, he played bluegrass guitar in a group with his brother Kenneth. They played local dances and concerts and performed on local radio stations WISE and WWNC. During this time he and his brother also played on station WNOX in Knoxville on the Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round program, an important country music station at that time. They played concerts with Red Smiley and Don Reno, along with the Morris Brothers, well-known country music bands.
He decided to not pursue music for a living at that time and attended brick masonry school in the late 1940’s. He worked as a master mason and construction project foreman for over 20 years. During that time, he continued to play guitar with area bluegrass and gospel groups on a part-time basis. Around 1960, Leonard began traveling, playing, and cutting albums part time with the Kingsmen Gospel Music Quartet; and the group gradually went from playing only weekend engagements to performing at major concerts and church services full-time. The group had a weekly television show filmed every Wednesday at the WFBC studios in Greenville, SC, and their scheduled concerts were from Thursday night through Sunday evening every week, with major concert and large church venues throughout the entire Southeast and into the Northeast. He played guitar with the Kingsmen Quartet on a full-time basis which continued until around 1970.
Funded by a special 2 year Federal grant project, Leonard taught brick masonry and general construction techniques at AB Tech for 2 years. This was a special project to provide unemployed adults with a trade education that would allow them to obtain employment as trained masons at the end of the 2 year training. It was very successful and he was employed to teach similar classes at Asheville High School. He taught at Asheville High School for 7 years and then taught the same program at West Henderson High School for 7 years, where he retired from his teaching career at age 65.
Leonard began playing with the Stoney Creek Boys in 1975. For the summer season each year, this band played every week for the Pisgah View Ranch, the square dances at Montreat College and served as the house band for the Shindig on the Green. He continued to play with them for 39 years, when he made the decision to cut back from performing with the group at the age of 87. At the end of his musical career, he received multiple awards, to include the Bascom Lamar Lunsford artist of the year award. In his 80’s, he cut three CDs on bluegrass music.
Visitation will be held at West Funeral Home, 17 Merrimon Ave., Weaverville, from 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6.
A tribute to his life of music will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 7, at the First Presbyterian Church Weaverville, 30 Alabama Ave., Weaverville, NC 28787.
Flowers are appreciated or donations can be made to the Madison County Arts Council (MCAC) for the Junior Appalachian Musicians, Leonard Hollifield Scholarship Fund, 152 North Main Street, Marshall, NC 28753. This is an afterschool program for students to learn traditional music and dance.
Burial will be in West Memorial Park, Weaverville.
For those who desire, condolences may be offered to the family under Mr. Hollifield’s obituary at www.WestFamilyFuneralServices.com.
West Funeral Home
Tuesday March 6th, 2018
5:30pm - 8:00pm
17 Merrimon Avenue
Weaverville, NC 28787
West Memorial Park
Wednesday March 7th, 2018
40 Roberts Street
Weaverville, NC 28787
First Presbyterian Church of Weaverville
Wednesday March 7th, 2018
30 Alabama Ave.
Weaverville , NC 28787
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Celebrating the life of Leonard Joe Hollifield
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So sad to hear of my cousin Leonard’s passing. May God Comfort Amy and Lenny and the family. He’s in his heavenly home now reunited with his siblings and other loved ones. Oh what rejoicing they must be doing. He’s home now and we will see him again. He’s making music in Heaven now and he’s with my Mother his Aunt Carolyn who I know is singing in that heavenly choir. He’s home - he was just passing through this world. God Bless.
Submitted by Donna Anderson Marks on Mar 4 2018 02:34:06 PM
I have many memories of my cousin Leonard down through the years. He’s at home now. May God Comfort his family.
Submitted by Joyce Anderson Osteen on Mar 4 2018 02:26:59 PM
Donna Anderson Marks lit a candle for Leonard Joe Hollifield
Donna Anderson Marks lit a candle on Mar 4 2018 02:24:26 PM
Very sad to learn of uncle Leonard's passing. I take comfort in knowing that it's a temporary separation and I will see him again one day. I have fond memories listening to him play great bluegrass/ gospel music as a child.
Submitted by Kevin Hall on Mar 4 2018 02:18:16 PM
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