Charles F. Price of Leicester, North Carolina, died on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, at the J. F. Keever Jr. Solace Center. Charles was born in Clyde, North Carolina, on October 21, 1938, to Reverend Edgar C. and Gertrue Greene Price who preceeded him in death along with his sister Wanda Louise Galloway. He is survived by his wife and writing partner Ruth Ellen Perschbacher Price. Also by his niece Allyson Kraft and two nephews Patrick and David Galloway as well as many family members who live in Hayesville, NC, and his cousin Rodney Price and wife Teri of Asheville. His love for Ruth’s family merits their mention as survivors; parents Ray and Gwen Perschbacher, brothers Mike Perschbacher and his wife Colleen and their two children John and Maude; Kirby Perschbacher and his wife Margo and their two children Charis and Nick; Mark Perschbacher and his children Kolton, Kortney and Kael. Also his dear friend Paige Bilotta and her husband Jason and their two children Audrey and Joseph.
Before pursuing writing full-time in 1995 Charles earned his undergraduate degree in history and political science in 1961 from High Point College, now High Point University. He entered military service in June of that year, training at Fort Jackson, SC, and then serving in the Army Reserve until May 1967. Charles was a news reporter and feature writer for The Greensboro Record, an afternoon paper that covered the events of the period 1962-1966 such as the civil rights demonstrations to desegregate public accommodations. He then became a staff planner for the Guilford County Planning Department in Greensboro; briefly moved to Birmingham, AL as an urban planner; then returned to Greensboro in 1971 as assistant director of the department of urban planning. He worked closely with the Institute of Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), in these endeavors and in initiatives to enhance historic preservation and urban beautification programs.
Charles entered graduate studies at UNC-CH and earned his Masters in Public Administration in 1974. He moved to Washington, DC, where for 19 years he was an urban planner, lobbyist, management consultant, and national association executive. In 1995, after devoting most of his working life to matters of public policy, he retired to Burnsville in his beloved North Carolina mountains to devote full time to writing and teaching.
He taught fiction writing for the Great Smoky Mountains Writers’ Program at UNC-Asheville and for the Creative Retirement program there; for the Black Mountain Center for the Arts; for Asheville-Buncombe County Technical Community College and Mayland Community College; for the North Carolina Writers’ Network; and conducted a number of private writing seminars in his home. Other presentations about writing were given at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, the Mountain Heritage Center at Cullowhee, NC, and the Southern Festival of Books.
His first published historical fiction work, Hiwassee: A Novel of the Civil War, appeared in 1996. His second, Freedom’s Altar, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award as the best fiction of 1999 written by a North Carolina author. The Cock’s Spur, his third title, received an Independent Publisher Book Award as one of the Ten Outstanding Books of 2001 and he was named Story Teller of the Year; it also won the Historical Fiction Award of the North Carolina Society of Historians. The last in the series, Where the Water-Dogs Laughed, was released in 2003. It also garnered the Society of Historians’ award, was a nominee for a second Sir Walter Raleigh Award and was a first finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award for historical fiction that year. An excerpt from this work was included in Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains: A Guidebook, by Georgann Eubanks, published by the North Carolina Arts Council in 2007. He also authored Nor the Battle to the Strong: A Novel of the American Revolution in the South (2008). Charles also self-published several novels on the West.
In 2013 the University Press of Colorado published the non-fiction book Season of Terror: The Espinosas in Central Colorado, March-October 1863. At his death he was working on the non-fiction work No Reason But Fear: The Lake County War in Colorado Territory 1874 to 1881.
His writing was most often inspired by his heritage. He was descended on both sides of his family from some of the earliest settlers in the mountains of Western North Carolina. His father, Rev. Edgar C. Price, served the western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church for 45 years; the family settled in 1836—the year of the Cherokee Removal—on the Hiwassee River in what is now Clay County. His mother, Gertrue Greene Price, was a descendant of Scot James Johnson and his wife Agnes Baker of what is now Mitchell County; the Bakers had settled in that area in the 1780’s.
Thanks to the many members of Charles and Ruth’s caregiving village which included: many neighbors with special thanks to Georgia and Kenny Coker and Bethany Worley; friends Ron Manheimer, Caroline Manheimer, Philip and Julia Gibson, Peter Caulfield and his wife Carol Lawrence, Nancy Smith-Hunnicutt and her husband Greg; Charles’ High Point college mates with special thanks to John and Grace Davis, Bill Moore and Ron Wachs; Land of Sky Regional Council and the staff of the Area Agency on Aging. The wife also wishes to thank the following: the staff of PACE (Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) for their kindness, medical expertise and individualized care which made it possible for Charles to live his last days in his cherished home under the care of his wife; Charles’ respite worker Rosalyn; Justin, PACE staff member, who challenged Charles to start writing again; the compassionate staff on Tower G 7 at Mission Hospital; and the staff at the J. F. Keever Jr. Solace Center who made the last few hours peaceful for Charles and his loved ones. Ruth is most grateful to Ed Sheary and his wife Peggy Weaver and Nancy Hogan who served as Ruth’s surrogates at the hospital while she rushed back from a visit to her parents in Colorado to be with him. And to Colleen Perschbacher who was Ruth’s caregiver during the final hours of hard decision-making and grief.
A Celebration of Charles’ Life will be a Reading of his works at the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival which he co-founded. It will take place at 4:00 PM, September 7, in the Town Hall in Burnsville, NC. Donations in his memory may be made to the festival at http://cmlitfest.org/.
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