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Originally published: 2013-08-13 13:35:54
Last modified: 2013-08-13 13:36:38

Shirley Swift Mast

Mrs. Shirley Swift Mast, of Vilas, passed away Thursday morning, Aug. 8, 2013, at Watauga Medical Center. She was 83.

Born Dec. 12, 1929, Mrs. Mast was the daughter of the late Walter Scott and Nettie Swift, of Vilas, and the former wife of the late Everett Leo Mast. She was preceded in death by her younger sister Patricia "Patsy" Ann Swift.

She is survived by her two daughters, Barbara Mast James (Scott) of Rock Hill, S.C., and Lara Mast, of Phoenix, Ariz., and three grandchildren, Lauren, Michael and William James.

Mrs. Mast graduated from the old Cove Creek High School in 1946 and went on to get her bachelors degree from the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina. Mrs. Mast was an educator, first in Miami, Fla., then in Washington, D.C., then settling in Atlanta, Ga., where she taught at Pace Academy for 31 years, as the school's first full-time history teacher. She was active in varied facets of high school curriculum including the school's newspaper, international studies and student government. An intellectual who encouraged her students to think for themselves, she accepted no less than academic excellence and encouraged lively debates both in and out of the classroom.

Following her retirement, Mrs. Mast moved to Vilas and purchased her childhood home, the original Henson Chapel, where she lived until her death. She supported community efforts such as the Cove Creek Community Council, Save the Sugar Grove Post Office, Holy Cross Episcopal Church's Valle Fair, the old Cove Creek High School, Heritage Days, and Cove Creek Preservation & Development. She continued to submit editorials to the Watauga Democrat on issues that she felt needed a voice.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Valle Crucis, the Rev. R. Allan McCaslin officiating, with a reception immediately following the service at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Holy Cross Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 645, Valle Crucis, NC 28691,, or the Pace Academy Upper School Capital Campaign, "Aim High," 966 W. Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta, GA 30327,

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Austin & Barnes Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the Mast family.