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Edneyville leader Margaret Davidson dies

Margaret Davidson Margaret Davidson

Margaret Ann Hunsinger Davidson, a longtime home-ec teacher who taught a generation of local children how to cook, sew and stand up straight, and who spent countless hours working on behalf of her beloved Edneyville community, died Sunday at Elizabeth House after suffering for a brief time from cancer.

She was 83.
Along with a handful of others who serve as an unofficial town board in the unincorporated apple valley region, Davidson helped conceive of and carry through the building of the Edneyville Community Center over the past 10 years or so. A tireless leader of the Edneyville Grange, she kept the farm-centered organization alive when many of its sister clubs in rural communities faded into history.
"I'm an organizational person," she once said in an understated description of her power to get things done.
The family will receive friends during a visitation at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Home. The funeral will be 1 p.m. Wednesday at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Edneyville.

Mrs. Davidson is survived by a sister-in-law, Bonnie Hunsinger; a nephew, Jesse Hunsinger Jr. and his wife Kristy Hunsinger of Greenville, SC, and their children Belle, Josh and Jack; two nieces, Marie H. Eskew and her husband Benji Eskew of Greenville, SC, and their children Alli and Chloe, also Loretta H. Cecil of Greenville, SC, and her children Lauren and Beth.

Whether the topic was the Grange-sponsored Edneyville Troop 605, the community center or her church, Margaret Davidson worked for her lifelong home.
"She absolutely loved the Grange and what it stood for and she definitely was the leader in keeping it viable in our community," said Fred Pittillo, the owner of Turf Mountain Sod and a longtime Edneyville community supporter. "Because of her interest in the Edneyville community, the Edneyville Community Center project got started and accomplished quite a bit and it's not finished. She would want us to emphasize that we still have to add a gym out there to have a completed project."
Even after she had received a diagnosis of cancer, Davidson refused to let go of the Grange, which she led as president for years.
"Last time I saw her was the 6th of November," said Wendy Henderson, a longtime Grange member. "She had started radiation that day and wanted to come to the Grange to make sure everything was going OK. She was the moving force behind the Edneyville Grange, the moving force in getting the community center started and the money that we earned.
"Every time there was anything that happened in Edneyville she was a part of it. She grew up here. She was there when we were trying to decide what to do with Edneyville High School, she was out there doing bake sales and rummage sales when we were raising money for the community center. She was there when we were getting the library built. There wasn't much that happened in Edneyville that Margaret didn't know what was going on."
She helped raise more than $500,000 to build the community center and park. Community members raised the money to buy the land from Habitat of Henderson County and build the facility, which it then turned over to Henderson County. Davidson said five years ago, when she was inducted into the Henderson County Education Foundation, that she didn't sit around and wait for something to happen.
"I am not a dreamer," she said. "I am a believer and a doer. In my life and in my teaching, I have found that the more challenging a task, the more energy I exert, and the more determination I have to succeed."

She was born Aug. 6, 1929, in Henderson County to the late Gene Hunsinger and Minnie Belle Whiteside Hunsinger. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband James "Chug" Davidson, a brother, Jesse F. Hunsinger Sr., and a nephew, Wayne Hunsinger.
A top student, Margaret was valedictorian of Edneyville High School's class of '48. She graduated from Winthrop College and received a masters degree from UNC-Greensboro. She taught at Flat Rock High School from 1954 until 1960 and at East Henderson High School until her retirement in 1991.
She pioneered a food services training program at East High that taught students short-order cooking and restaurant management, and she trained under a chef herself to develop the culinary arts curriculum.
She came by her academic prowess and work ethic honestly. Her mother was a Fruitland Institute graduate who taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Edneyville in the 1920s. Her father was a jack-of-all-trades who gardened, knew carpentry and ran a small grocery. After her mother's death, Davidson continued to own and manage the Hunsinger Cottages on U.S. 64.

Mrs. Davidson was a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, NC Teachers Association, Henderson County Teachers Association, Order of the Eastern Star, Grand Court Order of the Amaranth, White Shrine and VFW Ladies Auxiliary, was Past President Henderson County Community Council and was President of Edneyville Community Center Association.
Some of her honors included the state FHA advisors of the year, Teacher of the Year for East Henderson High and Henderson County, National Vocational teacher of the year and the National Distinguished Service Award. She served as Past Grand Royal Matron for the Grand Court of NC. She had served as Master/or President of Edneyville Grange. Mrs. Davidson was the sponsor for two Junior Grange – at Edneyville High School and Apple Valley Middle School. She was inducted into the Henderson County Teachers Hall of Fame. She received the order of Long Leaf Pine from the Governor of the State of NC.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to either Edneyville Grange #1051, 239 Laycock Road, Hendersonville, NC 28792, or St. Paul's Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 70, 1657 St. Paul's Rd, Edneyville, NC 28727.

Whether at a Grange meeting or speaking to the Board of Commissioners, Davidson was plainspoken and confident in the rightness of her cause.
"Everybody that knew Margaret knew where she stood," Pittillo said. "If you agreed with her, fine, if you disagreed, that was fine too but you knew where she stood. She didn't mind going to the political leaders in our area and explaining what they needed to do for our community. We loved her and appreciated her for that.... I think she twisted the arms of the commissioners pretty hard but that was OK. They ended up laughing about it. She was a very unselfish person; it wasn't about her."
She focused so insistently on what was right for Edneyville that she sometimes offended people. But most Edneyville folks knew that was just Margaret being Margaret — a stern but loving matriarch standing up for the community like it was her own child.
"Years ago, some people couldn't get along with Margaret because she was so blunt. But the proof was in the pudding of her life," Pittillo said.
Wendy Henderson, who along with her husband, Don, has spent four decades leading Cub Pack 605 and Boy Scout Troop 605, said Davidson faithfully attended the Scout Courts of Honor as a Grange representative. Whenever people met to do something for Edneyville, Davidson was there. Now, it's going to seem strange and sad that she is not there.
"It's going to leave a hole in the community," Wendy Henderson said.