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MATA McGUIRE-Mata McGuire (nee Battye) died peacefully, with loving hearts of family and friends around her, on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016.-She was born in Upstate New York on Sept. 23, 1937, the daughter of loving parents, William and Viola (née Sanderson) Battye. She attended Barnard College at age 16 and earned a master’s degree in geology. There she met Odell McGuire, a professor of paleontology. They married in 1957 and had three children: the late Melanie McGuire Gupton, Forrest and Jesse McGuire. -They moved to Lexington, where Odell taught geology at Washington and Lee and the McGuire family became the center of a renaissance of traditional Appalachian music. Dozens of students and young musicians traveled with Mata and Odell to visit and learn music and cooking from elderly traditional musicians in the mountains of Virginia and nearby West Virginia and North Carolina. “The Horde,” as they were dubbed, descended on fiddlers’ conventions throughout the region, fiddles, banjos, guitars in hand and Mata, ever the great cuisiniŹre, fed the masses.-In 1973, Mata opened the White Column Inn on Main Street in Lexington. For over a decade it was the focal point of Lexington social, musical, culinary and conversational cultures. Folks from every part of Rockbridge County and from every strata of society congregated there. The business people in town had lunch there. As work let out in the afternoon, carpenters, schoolteachers and other working folks, as well as students and professors, stopped in to visit, share libations and conversation. At six the tables were set for fine dinners – and Mata’s was the finest and most diverse cuisine in the county. Students from VMI and W&L brought their dates to the White Column. Professors, parents and other visitors dined there. Such dignitaries as Lady Bird Johnson, Senators John Warner and George McGovern ate there, as well as visiting artists and writers. Around nine the tablecloths came off and a band – old time, bluegrass, soul, country or jazz – would perform. -The White Column Inn was a center of music, fellowship and great food thanks to Mata’s vision, generosity and hard work. She kept things in line with a sharp eye and, when needed, a sharp wit and tongue. In later years she cooked in a health food restaurant and did volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity.-Mata McGuire fed many with her culinary talents. She was the center of a social and musical renaissance, bringing together a remarkable and diverse community. She nourished so many, for so long, with her intellect, generosity and love. In her last days scores of people came from all over to offer appreciation, thanks and love to the matriarch of a great extended family and community.-Mata is survived by her sons, Forrest McGuire and Jesse Claxton McGuire; grandchildren Nicole McGuire, Rosie Fox and Killian Gupton; and great-grandchildren Dorothy, Rosemary, William and Elizabeth Gilbert and Frances Fox.-A memorial celebration of Mata’s life and contributions will be planned for the spring in Bird Forest (Rockbridge County). In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Habitat for Humanity and Rockbridge Area Hospice.

ROBERT DAMERON-Robert Christopher Dameron, 44, of Natural Bridge died Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. -Born Dec. 24, 1971, in Lexington, he was a son of Willard Keith Dameron and Charlene Robling Dameron.-Robert was an employee with Georgia Pacific, and attended Faith Baptist Church. Robert was a loving husband and father, avid hunter and fisherman, and a die-hard Steelers fan.-In addition to his parents, he is survived by his wife of 21 years, Stephanie Lynn Dameron; children, Destinee Dameron, Jordan Dameron and Parker Dameron; brothers, Brian Dameron of Natural Bridge and Clay Hughes of Buena Vista; sisters, Sherry Dameron Coleman of Natural Bridge and Kassie Dameron of Keysville. Robert never met a stranger and had lots of friends, along with two special friends, Chris Wheeler and J.D. Kerr.-A funeral was conducted Monday, Nov. 28, at Harrison Funeral Chapel with the Rev. Terry Bostic officiating. Burial followed at Green Hill Cemetery. -In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Faith Baptist Church; P.O. Box 500, Natural Bridge Station, VA 24579.-Arrangements were by Harrison Funeral Home & Crematory.

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