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Theron Maybin, farm leader and 'mayor of Green River,' dies at age 73

Blue Ridge Apple Growers honored Theron Maybin as a Friend of Apple Growers in 2014. Blue Ridge Apple Growers honored Theron Maybin as a Friend of Apple Growers in 2014.

Theron Larnce Maybin, an influential voice for farming, patriarch of his church, Vietnam veteran and leader of the Green River community over the past five decades, died on Friday night after an extended period of declining health. He was 73.

Maybin died about 7:30 p.m. surrounded by family after suffering a stroke on Tuesday, one of several health setbacks in recent weeks, said his brother, James.
“He had a stroke a week before Christmas and it’s just been constantly downhill,” he said.
Maybin had been under nursing care at Hendersonville Health and Rehabilitation until the family brought him home about a month ago. He had been under hospice care in recent days. A respected presence in his trademark bib overalls and baseball cap, Maybin had a deep raspy voice and genial nature that helped him win support for farming issues and for Green River.

“Agriculture was definitely his passion and anything he could do to help promote agriculture in the county he was there, whether that was the soil conservation office, the cooperative extension office,” said Marvin Owings Jr., director of the county cooperative extension service and a longtime friend. “When there was something that he was passionate about relative to agriculture he would go to the commissioners and, as I told him a number of times, it was like when E. F. Hutton speaks everyone listens. That’s what happened with the county commissioners. They truly respected him and knew if he was coming to them for help there was a real reason for it.”

Born in 1943 to Lincoln Luther Maybin and Carrie Capps Maybin, Theron Maybin traced his roots to Matthew Maybin, an Irishman who came to America in on Oct. 16, 1772, aboard a ship named the Pennsylvania Farmer, according to research by Jennie Jones Giles in Other than his tour of combat duty in Vietnam, Maybin spent his life on the land where he was born.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lois Jackson Maybin and their children Theron Larnce Maybin Jr., his wife Cindy, their children, Lauren and Theron Larnce Maybin III; Tyrone Lewis Maybin, who shares his father’s passion for agriculture; Terrence Leland Maybin, who passed away in 1976; Seldon Alexander Maybin, his wife Brittany, their children, Leah and Ethan; and Jess Arnold Maybin, his wife Jen, their children, Jocelyn and Jodi.

A graveside service will be 1 p.m. Tuesday at McDowell Family Cemetery on Rock Creek Road with military honors provided by the Henderson County Honor Guard. A celebration of Theron’s life will follow from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Cedar Springs Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, where refreshments will be served. Jackson Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.

Betsy Jackson Copolillo, whose sister married Maybin 43 years ago, said her children learned a lot from their uncle.
“He taught them a strong work ethic,” she said. “He taught them an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. You came to work on time and went home on time and took a break when you were supposed to, not on a whim. They grew up with a strong work ethic and they take pride in everything they do. I credit Theron Maybin for that.”
A member of the first graduating class of East Henderson High School, Maybin joined the Army at the height of the Vietnam War, serving in 1965-66 as a Huey helicopter mechanic with the Army’s 121st Aviation Division.
“I made sure they were flyable,” he said. “I was in charge of 10 mechanics. If one of ‘em worked on it I had to be the first one to go up in it.”
Over time, family members said, his service in Vietnam cost him his health.
“All of his health problems came from Agent Orange,” Copolillo said. “He got sprayed by it. He had gone blind from Agent Orange, he had gout and of course he had the stroke, which is what killed him.”

Despite his health challenges, Maybin’s strong Christian faith and sunny disposition seemed to prevent him sinking into despair or feeling sorry for himself. He had to give up farming when his eyesight prevented him from plowing a straight row. Last October, Farm City day honored him and Mary Lois as the farmers of the year.
“We thoroughly enjoy sharing answers to questions people have about farming,” he said then.
Theron and Mary Lois “have cultivated a simple way of life — a life of farming that for many years kept them and their five sons busier than the bees,” Owings said during the Farm City Day presentation. “They maintain a herd of 35 cattle and continue to grow squash, beans and other produce on a small portion of what was once a 103-acre farm.”

Maybin was an elected supervisor of the Soil and Water Conservation District and until recently had served as chair of the Henderson County Agriculture Advisory Committee.

Besides his agriculture advocacy, Maybin was a driving force in the establishment of the Green River library branch, Green River fire station and the Tuxedo tailgate market. An environmentalist before anyone used the word, Maybin worked with the EPA to stop runoff from logged hillsides that was damaging Upper Rock Creek. He helped save neglected and forgotten cemeteries in the county; one of his projects was working with the late George A. Jones to place gravestones at the plots of military veterans who had no markers. In December, Maybin was named to the first class of the Walk of Fame, which honors people who have made a significant contribution to Henderson County.
“He was so unselfish about giving of his time, whether it was ag-related or something else,” Owings said. “A good example was every December before Christmas he would take a truckload of donated items — clothing, canned goods, food and so forth to the needy folks up in the Appalachian Mountains and to Tennessee. That’s just indicative of his caring of other folks.”

Although the family had not yet announced funeral arrangements, the service is bound to draw a big crowd to Cedar Springs Baptist Church, where Maybin served as a church deacon. Organized in 1847, the church on a hilltop on Green River Road is known for its old-fashioned shape note service and church dinner in July.
“Seven generations of Maybin and Capps descendants attend this church,” Maybin told Giles for a report on the historic cemetery. “I estimate 90 percent of the church has Capps or Maybin in them. Or they married into the Capps and Maybin families.”
A patriarch of the church, Maybin will be remembered by his church family, fellow farmers and Green River neighbors as a guiding spirit who always sought a way to help others.
“As far as his church down there, he was the pillar of the church as well as the community,” Owings said. “He was the unofficial mayor of Bob’s Creek down there. He will be missed by all of us who were fortunate enough to know him.”

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The family prefers that in lieu of flowers friends and family donate to a scholarship fund that will be set up this week in Theron’s name. Contributions may be brought for the scholarship to the celebration. Condolence cards may be sent to the family at or PO Box 945, Hendersonville, NC, 28793.