Archer Rene Gravely, III, 71, passed away peacefully at the John F. Keever Solace Center on April 9, 2022, in Asheville, NC, after living with an aggressive esophageal cancer for more than two years. He faced his illness with strength and courage.
He was born March 13, 1951, in Danville, VA, to Whitney Shields Cobbs and Archer Rene Gravely, Jr. He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Sandra Monterose Gravely, his daughter Jessica Gravely (Randy Austin), his son William Gravely, his brother Charles Gravely (Sandra), his step-father William Cobbs, and two grandchildren, Theo and Dominick Austin.
Archer graduated from George Washington High School in 1969 and Virginia Tech in 1974. A member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets during his undergraduate years, he served in the U.S. Army from 1974-1978 and was awarded a U.S. Army Commendation Medal in 1977. During his military service he trained as a paratrooper and served as a tank unit commander. He met Sandra while stationed at Fort Bragg, NC.
He earned a master's of education from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in Adult and Continuing Education from Virginia Tech, with a minor in Statistics. After beginning his career as an institutional researcher at the University of South Florida, Archer served as the Director of Institutional Research at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, from 1985-2015. He was tremendously proud of the mission of a public liberal arts university and loved his work. He wrote a book, published by the SAS Institute in 1998, titled Your Guide to Survey Research Using the SAS(R) System.
Archer was known by friends and family for his dedication to DIY home repair and renovation--in 1991, he began teaching himself as much as he could about old homes after moving into a 1927 "fixer upper." He pursued many ambitious house and woodworking projects, even well into his illness. He faced even the most daunting and labor-intensive projects with patience and enthusiasm.
His family is thankful for the time he enjoyed in retirement. In those years, he regularly served as Range Safety Officer at the Asheville Rifle and Pistol Club and participated in national marksmanship matches. He organized a group of UNCA retirees for monthly luncheons, took vacations to the Carolina beaches and New York, took his grandsons fishing at Beaver Lake and built birdhouses with them in his workshop. He cheered on the Virginia Tech Hokies, shared his favorite foods and recipes with family and friends, and cuddled up with the family goldendoodle, Sammy.
Archer loved to read and said many times that it was a balm during his illness. His enthusiasm for new knowledge seemed boundless, and he possessed an uncanny ability to remember--and marvel at--nearly everything he learned
. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm on Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, NC. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the All Souls Community and Outreach Ministries. His ashes will be scattered in a private family ceremony in the Blue Ridge Mountains and at Holden Beach.
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