Dunn's Rock News


Last updated 10/2/2019 at 4:42pm

As a child, Kathie Aiken loved watching "Trigger the Wonder Pony" at Coy Compton's riding ring on Mill Hill. (Courtesy photos)

Dewey and Kathie Aiken made mid-life career changes, so they could work full-time doing what they enjoy most – mission work. The couple links mission teams with rural Southern Baptist churches in Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Pennsylvania through their work as On-Site Partnership Coordinators for NC Baptists on Mission.

Frequently on the road doing site visits, Dewey and Kathie help out with construction projects, Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs and provide encouragement for small church pastors and their families. Their visits to these remote locales, where there is often little cell service and great poverty, has been an eye-opening experience.

Despite their heavy travel schedule, they still find time to help at the Dunn's Rock Community Center, where Dewey is board president. The couple were key volunteers this winter in the center's renovation and painting projects.

Both Dewey and Kathie are Transylvania County natives. Dewey was born in Eastatoe, the fifth of Marvin and Lois Aiken's six children. A graduate of Rosman High School, after going to technical school in Greenville, he worked for a few months at Ecusta before taking a job at DuPont.

Kathie, whose father was a farmer and businessman, was the youngest of Walt and Mary Shipman's five daughters. Though the family lived various places around the county, her sweetest memories are of when they lived on a farm near the intersection of Walnut Hollow and Island Ford Road.

"When I was only 5 or 6 years old, I'd dress up my cat and put it in a baby carriage and go all over the hills," Kathie said.

She spent her days making pine needle houses and enjoying the rolling land, which included two fishing ponds.

The family had a horse named Trigger, whom as a child Kathie assumed was the same as "Trigger the Wonder Pony," the horse who entertained folks on Greenville Highway at Coy Compton's riding ring on Mill Hill. Kathie said she'd look her family's horse in the eyes and command him to stand up on his back legs or roll over, tricks which Compton's Trigger could perform. She didn't understand why Trigger wouldn't obey.

Dewey and Kathie met at a 1970 high school football game. Dewey, who graduated in 1969, was looking for a better vantage point for viewing the packed Brevard-Pisgah game. He asked the young woman staffing the Health Occupations Club bake sale if he could sit on top of the concession stand. In that simple request he found not only a great place to see Brevard beat Pisgah, but the life partner of his dreams.

Kathie, whose father had died when she was 15 years old, said Dewey helped bring her out of the depression into which she had sunk after his death.

"Dewey made me laugh again," she said.

The couple married in 1972, while Kathie was in nursing school at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. Dewey moved there, finding a job with Duke Power. After Kathie's graduation, Duke transferred Dewey to the McGuire Nuclear Station near Huntersville. During their time there, they raised three children, Ben, Jennifer and Elliot. The family made a two-year return to Transylvania County in the late 1980s to help care for Dewey's father, who was facing declining health. During that time Dewey worked with Duke Power's Bad Creek Hydro Station.

Dewey and Kathie found their calling to missions in 1981 when they began working as volunteers with SBC Home Mission Board during their vacation time. During these one-week commitments, they did everything from helping with VBS programs and kids' camps to construction projects. Eventually, they began leading mission teams, both in the United States and abroad to Brazil and Venezuela.

During a trip to the Northeast in 1997, they were struck by the vast spiritual needs in that area. They both knew they'd eventually return. In 2002, when after 30 years with Duke Power Dewey became eligible for a voluntary lay-off package, they saw their chance to become full-time missionaries.

Checking for available mission opportunities, they found that a position had just opened up managing a retreat center in Washington, Vt. The center housed mission teams that came to work with small churches around the region. Within two months of accepting the voluntary lay-off package, the couple found themselves arriving in the tiny village of Washington, in 3 feet of snow and a temperature of 0 degrees.

"We were there seven years, and we loved it," Kathie said.

In addition to handling all of the maintenance and housekeeping for the 350 guests who stayed in the retreat center each year, they worked supporting the village church. Kathie led a women's Bible study and was church pianist. Dewey headed up SBC disaster relief for the state of Vermont.

They also worked as "strengtheners," supporting folks who were starting new churches in the region. When they moved to Vermont there were 23 SBC churches; by the time they left there were around 50. With this success, Dewey and Kathie found that they were working themselves out of a job. That's why their ears perked when they heard about the needs in lower Appalachia. The couple knew it was time to move closer to home, their children and eight grandchildren.

In 2009, they returned to the house they had purchased and renovated in Dunn's Rock, in which their son's family had been living. Though both had grown up in area Baptist churches, Dewey at Middle Fork and Kathie at Glady Branch, it made more sense to them to join the small church just down the road from their house, Dunn's Rock Baptist.

It was through their work with this church, which uses the Dunn's Rock Community Center as a fellowship hall, that they became involved with the community center. At that time, the community center was hosting a Homework Club for students in the community. Dewey and Kathie volunteered to help.

The church, which only had about 12 people attending at the time, also reached out to children in the club, inviting them to Sunday school. By building relationships with the community children and their parents, the church began to grow. In 2011, they led the first community VBS in 40 years. This growth continues today.

It seems that Dewey and Kathie are "strengtheners," wherever they go.

Community Center News

This month's dinner and program on Thursday, Oct. 17 will feature the documentary, "Almost Cured," about Brevard High School's integrated 1963 football team. Leslie Borhaug, whose Davidson River School class wrote the children's book, which inspired the film, and Jack Powers, who first told the students about the team, will be there to comment on the film. Dinner will begin at 6 p.m. and the program at 7 p.m.

A Community Playgroup meets on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Children from birth to age 5 are invited to attend with their caregivers for a morning of snacks, fellowship and play.

At 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 7, a presentation will be given on behalf of the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners on an option being considered for funding fire service districts. It will be presented by the assistant county manager and staff from Emergency Services.

To rent the community center, contact Janet Robertson at 883-2678. Share your Dunn's Rock news at dunnsrockview@ gmail.com.


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