Covenant Village recognized twelve Honorary Residents at its inaugural Evening of Thanksgiving and Gratitude, held on November 10, 2022, in the formal Assembly Room. The event was part of a year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of Covenant Village.
Each 2022 Honorary Resident has made Covenant Village their home for more than 20 years, including one resident, who has lived here 27 years.
“We are making tonight’s event a regular part of our cadence each year as we move forward together. This is our time to celebrate and lift up our collective Village—and the Residents and Staff who have contributed to our lives through the breadth of their residency and service at Covenant Village,” said CEO Dale Melton as he welcomed a standing room only audience.
In recognizing the honored group, Melton shared biographical information about each Honorary Resident in a “guess who” format, revealing the honoree’s name at the very end. Collectively, the honorary ensemble represents significant leadership in the wider Gaston community through their contributions to teaching, textiles, banking, volunteerism, church involvement, and advocacy. Melton also pointed out that these residents have contributed to making the Covenant Village community what it is today—through a combined 272 years of residency, an average of 22 years each.
The 2022 Honorary Residents are:
Mrs. Mary (Tuga) Wilson Adams, a 24-year Covenant Village Resident.
After graduating from The College of William and Mary and post-graduate work in education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and in library science at Appalachian State University, Mrs. Adams was an elementary school Librarian at McAdenville and Tryon Elementary Schools and at Saint Michael’s School. She has been active in Junior League and the Gaston Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and served on the Boards of the Schiele Museum; the Library Board of William and Mary; Gaston County with Friends Teen Shelter; Friends of the Library; and as a Girl Scout leader for 18 years. In 2005, the Gaston Community Foundation recognized her contributions to Gaston County with the Allen H. Sims Award.
Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Spencer Cain, a 27-year Covenant Village Resident.
Mrs. Cain attended high school in Gastonia and graduated with a BA in Education and Economics/ Sociology from Salem College. She taught first grade at Victory School for three years and then first grade at Gaston Day for the next 13 years, finishing her teaching career in 1982. She has been active in the Debutante Club and the Junior League and is a member of First ARP Church, where she has served as a Sunday school teacher, president of the Women of the Church, while being active in Circles and serving on the Board. Today she enjoys her 5 Grandchildren and 5 Great Grandchildren.
Robert (Bob) and Pat Chambers, 22-year Covenant Village Residents.
Dr. and Mrs. Chambers met while students at the University of Oklahoma. He served as a lieutenant in the infantry in World War Il and was stationed at Brook Army Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio; and served in Korea. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma and Duke University School of Medicine and was former Chief of Staff and Chief of Pediatrics at Gaston Memorial Hospital, now CaroMont Health. Dr. Chambers opened his practice of pediatrics in Gastonia in 1956, where he remained until his retirement in 1993. Mrs. Chambers graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, MO, and the University of Oklahoma, with degrees in psychology and sociology. She was a member of the Junior League of Gaston County, the Medical Auxiliary, and the Gaston Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. They are members of the First United Methodist Church in Gastonia, where Dr. Chambers has been Superintendent of the Sunday School, a Board Member, and Youth Services Counselor and Mrs. Chambers has served as a Board Member, Circle member, and Women of the Church member.
Merle Gaither Costner, a 23-year Covenant Village Resident.
After attending school in Iredell County, Forsyth County, and Gaston County and completing her studies at Carolina School of Business in Charlotte, Ms. Costner worked for the FBI in Washington, DC; International Harvesters in Charlotte; and the Gaston County Schools, until her retirement in 1989. She has been a member of the Belmont Community Organization; the North Carolina Association of Educational Office Personnel; and a neighborhood bridge club for nearly four decades. She is also a member of the First United Methodist Church in Belmont, where she served on the Finance Committee, the Pastor Parish Committee, and was Treasurer of the Women of the Church.
Mary Margaret Hughes Harrelson, a 21-year Covenant Village Resident.
A graduate of Berea College in Kentucky and Appalachian State University, Ms. Harrelson taught school in Wilmington, Raleigh, Newton, Cramerton, and Gastonia. She has volunteered with Gaston Memorial Hospital Auxiliary serving with Student Tours, Gift Shop, and as Chairman of Mail Service, Scholarship, and Nominating Committees. She is a member of North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), National Education Association (NEA), and Alpha Delta Kappa Sorority, serving as president of Kappa chapter as well as Chaplain, Sergeant at Arms, and Courtesy Chairman. She also plans special musical services and accompanies hymns at Covenant Village. As a member of the First United Methodist Church, she has served as Chairman of the Older Adult Council, Builders Sunday School Class (President & Pianist), Circle 1 member and leader, and a member of the Brassy Belles Handball Choir and former member of Chancel Choir and Senior Choir.
Plato P. (Tete) Pearson, Jr., a 21-year Covenant Village Resident.
After graduating from Davidson College with a Business degree, Mr. Pearson was Vice-President of Gastonia Merchants Oil Company; Vice President of R. S. Dickson and Company; President of Citizens National Bank/ Independence Bank; President of BB&T Corporation; and Board Chairman of First Community Bank. Since retirement he has worked for A. B. Carter, Inc. He also has been President of the YMCA and Rotary and has served as a Director of the Gaston Literacy Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and Gaston Country Club. He is a member of the First ARP Church, where he has served as Deacon and Elder. He is one of the original members of Covenant Village’s Board of Directors and served as its President. He also served as Board President for the Gaston College Foundation and the Gaston Community Foundation, which honored him with the Allen H. Sims Award in 1999.
Betty Jean (Jeanne) Litton Rawlings, a 22-year Covenant Village Resident.
The Homecoming Queen of Gastonia High School attended Central Piedmont Community College and earned her child development certification to teach at the First United Methodist Church Through-the-Week School for eight years, before beginning her 28-year career in banking. She met her husband—Archie—at a Valentine’s Day Dance, and they danced together for 68 years until his passing in 2022. Together, they volunteered with Meals-on-Wheels, The American Red Cross Bloodmobiles, and the Health Society—and had membership with the Twilighters Dance Club and the Stardusters Dance Club. Mrs. Rawlings is a member of First United Methodist Church, where she has been a Sunday School teacher for 3-years-olds; a member of United Methodist Women; a Greeter; Chairperson of the Bereavement Committee and participant in the choir and handbells.
Dorothy “Dot” Griggs Schutte, a Quarter Century Resident of Covenant Village.
Born in Atlanta, Ms. Schutte attended Georgia State University and took a job at Fulton National Bank, where she met her husband-to-be, Harry. While living in Columbia, SC, she became a partner in a catering company. She also worked as a bookkeeper for a travel agency in Columbia. She has worked as the church financial secretary, in a fill-in capacity, at the First Presbyterian Church in Belmont and in a full-time capacity at New Hope Baptist Church. She has been a volunteer at the Schiele Museum and a member of the UC Book Club and First ARP Church, where she has been active in the choir and handbells.
Sue O’Daniel Teeter, a 20-year Covenant Village Resident.
A graduate of Belmont High School and Berea College in Kentucky, Mrs. Teeter taught at North Belmont Elementary and Belmont Central Elementary for a total of 37 years. She has been a tutor, volunteered with Hospice, and been active in the Belmont Community Organization for decades. She has been a member of Delta Kappa Gamma and the Belmont Home and Garden Club, where she also served as Secretary. As a member of First United Methodist Church in Belmont, she has served as Sunday school teacher, President and Secretary of the United Methodist Women, and choir member.
Alice Ragan Wood, a 22-year Covenant Village Resident.
After graduating Gastonia High School and Appalachian State University, Mrs. Wood took courses at Queens College, Florida State University, and the University of Alabama. She taught fourth, fifth and sixth grades in Gastonia; Burlington; Pensacola, FL; the Charlotte Mecklenburg school system; and Decatur, AL, between 1944 and her retirement in 1984. She married her high school classmate, David Wood, in 1946 at the First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia, where she still has membership and involvement in a church circle and the Trotters Committee. Today, she enjoys her three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Dorothy Scott Johnson Woody, a Covenant Village Resident for 22 years.
Mrs. Woody graduated from school in Savannah, GA, and did graduate work in Special Education at Central Piedmont. She worked at Savannah Bank and Trust Company; Citizens and Southern National Bank in Atlanta; and was a teacher from 1961 until 1970 at the First United Methodist Church in Gastonia in the preschool class for children with special needs. She met Cecil Johnson while in high school, and they were married in 1946. They had four children. After Mr. Johnson’s death in 2006. She met and married Dr. Bill Woody in 2008. Together, they enjoy 25 great grandchildren!
In addition to recognizing Honorary Residents at the Evening of Thanksgiving and Gratitude, Covenant Village recognized exemplary tenure of four staff members and presented the inaugural Brenda Harris Award to four more staff who were nominated for their outstanding demonstration of the CV CARES core values in their work.