The Transylvania Times -

Thomas And Mary McEntire Finally Retire

 

August 10, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Thomas and Mary McEntire are enjoying their retirement. (Courtesy photo by Danielle McEntire)

Thomas and Mary McEntire are enjoying their first summer of retirement after 42 years of running the Pines Country Inn on Hart Road.

Both are in their early 90

and may have the record for one of the latest retirements around.

Thomas McEntire may also be the oldest veteran in the county at 94 years of age, but Veterans Services does not keep those records.

The McEntires ran the inn after moving to Brevard from Florida, where Thomas was a heavy equipment operator for the space program, moving missiles by remote control from storage to launch.

He also helped build the first nuclear reactors at the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina.

Mary worked in real estate, administration and raised their four children.

Before his career as a heavy equipment operator, Thomas was drafted in World War II, where he helped liberate prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp in southern Germany.

Dachau was the first of the Nazi camps located near Munich. There are 32,000 documented deaths at Dachau, with estimated thousands more not verified.

"I remember the ovens were still warm when we got there," he said. "I don't like to talk about it. I have seen some terrible things."

Thomas was visibly shaken trying to recall his memories of that experience, but at least one inspiring story came from it. Ten years after the war the McEntire family was living in Atlanta, Ga., and was at a swimming hole. A man kept staring at his family and eventually approached them.

"He came over and said, 'You were at Dachau. You took my chocolate away from me.' The prisoners had been given bars of chocolate, but their dilapidated bodies could not handle the richness of the chocolate, so we took them back fearing they would get even sicker," said Thomas. "My face was embedded in this man's mind. But we became friends; he was an electrical engineer, a very posh Jewish man. A company in Augusta sponsored him and he came here to work.

"He wrote a book about his life but did not finish it before he died. There is an original copy of the book, 'Abe's Story,' in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C."

Thomas said he had one encounter with General Patton, when he was in Patton's Third Army tank battalion.

"I was in a foxhole and Patton came by, stopped and said, 'Son are you scared?' I said, 'Yes.' And Patton said, 'Son, you're a damn fine soldier.' Patton was a gentleman in every aspect. I don't like to talk about war, but what bothered me the most was seeing the children. I saw too much. War never has a winner. Everybody loses."

A stroke took much of Thomas' memory and the use of the right side of his body, so Mary tends to him 24/7, with the help of nursing assistants who visit their home, which is just down the driveway from the inn.

Mary has suffered a stroke as well and is now forced to use a walker to get around their home.

"We have lived through a lot of history," said Mary. "But we never dreamed of running a bed and breakfast."

She said their son, who now lives in Asheville and is a truck driver, discovered the inn after a dirt bike ride from the See Off community, which, as the crow flies, is not that far. The family got in touch with the Jerome family who owned it at the time and were able to lease the inn from the family.

After a lot of elbow grease and renovations, the Jerome matriarch agreed to sell the property.

"I was serving dinner seven days a week," said Mary. "We had people come two or three times a week from Brevard for dinner. And we had visitors return every summer for 35 years. We became such good friends with so many families."

Mary said that she would often refuse to take money from some families who were obviously less fortunate than her own.

She said she knew that a few dollars would make or break their vacation and she wouldn't miss a few dollars anyway.

"We were very successful, and we didn't advertise any," she said. "When people found out we served dinner, we served from anywhere from 80 – 100 people every evening by reservation only. They never asked what we were having. They didn't care as long as they could sit and get fed. On Sunday, people came from Atlanta, Columbia, and Knoxville."

Of all the memories the guests that came stand out the most, she said.

Thomas said that's one thing nobody can take from him, the memories.

The McEntires sold the inn to the Jacobs family this year, who now run it and remain close with the McEntires.

The McEntires spend their days now reading, looking through old photographs and recounting those memories.

"I'm gonna make it to 100," said Thomas. "Most of the people in my family have been centurions. My grandpa was 96, daddy's brother was 102 - all military people, (but) not by choice either."

 
 

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