Evelyn Rigdon Mayes, 96, passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 20, 2019, at Cape Canaveral Hospital.
Born Evelyn Christine Rigdon on August 20, 1922 in Laurel, MS, the daughter of Walter Gurcie Rigdon and Bertha Viola Robinson.
At sixteen, her family moved to Klamath County, OR, from Laurel, MS, settling in Gilchrist where she was valedictorian of the first graduating class from Gilchrist High School. She was the guest speaker at the 60th anniversary of the school.
She enjoyed a pen pal relationship to over 30 soldiers during World War II. Evelyn met Melvin Mayes while he was stationed at Marine Barracks, Klamath Falls, OR, at the Crescent Lake Convalescent Camp Govo after returning from the Pacific Theatre of Operations in WWII. On December 8, 1945, after his discharge, they were married in Gilchrist. After residing two years in Durham, NC they returned to Gilchrist, OR where she was active in the Methodist Church, as Bible teacher and choir member. They celebrated their 66th anniversary in 2011, prior to his death in 2012.
After Melvin’s father’s death in 1951 the family returned to Burlington and Graham, NC. As community volunteer, she headed fund drives such as Cerebral Palsy and taught local and district Bible studies for the Methodist Woman’s Society.
She began bowling in Burlington, NC, she was named champion scratch bowler after winning the Women’s Division Singles’ Tournament May 1962. Three years later, she was honored for her achievements on the North Carolina Travel team. She received a National award for converting the 6-7-9-10 (big four split) and bowled high game in the Southeast Women’s Tournament before moving to Florida July 1, 1965. After Melvin’s transfer by Western Electric to its Cape Kennedy Florida Facility, she became a member of Patrick Air Force Women’s travel team, the South Brevard Women’s Bowling Association, and delegate to eleven WIBC National Championships.
Evelyn was charter member, past president, and historian of the Cocoa Beach Women’s Golf Association organized in 1968. She was past president of LaCita Women’s Golf Association; active on all Cocoa Beach City Golf Committees, having served as a Chairman of the original Golf committee in 1972, and avid supporter of the Cocoa Beach Country Club and its members, always encouraging new members as they learned the game of golf. She attended numerous golf tournaments through the years and continued watching golf even up to her last days.
Evelyn was energetic, intelligent, religious, musical, and generous. She was influential and actively participated in the education of her children, Wayne, Brent, and Marcia and to young people, supporting them in church and school activities; basketball, golf, chorus, cheerleading, art, music, science, and scouts.
During her life she was always very active, including as a member of the Cocoa Beach Pioneers, Citizen’s League, First United Methodist Church, a ten-year certified Methodist Lay Speaker, Friends of Cocoa Beach Library, Telephone Pioneer Life Members, and Brevard County licensed Handwriting Analyst. She was a member of Smith County Genealogical Society, MS; Granville County Genealogical Society, NC.
Her many hobbies included oil painting, golf activities, writing family stories and poetry, sewing, genealogy, love of the space program, and writing the annual Christmas letter to family and friends. Evelyn was recognized with the Freedom 7 Senior Community Center “8 over 80” award for her support, activism, and contributions to the City of Cocoa Beach where she called home for over 50 years and was affectionately known as the “Mayor” of Azalea Drive.
Preceded in death by parents, Walter Gurcie Rigdon and Bertha Viola Robinson; sister, Alice Louise Keown; brother; Walter Gurcie “Gene” Rigdon, Jr; nephew, Larry “Bud” Keown, Jr; son, Brent Stephen Mayes, and husband, Melvin S. Mayes, Jr. Evelyn is survived by her son, Wayne Martin Mayes (Dawn), Fort Mill, SC; daughter, Marcia Lynne Mayes Munce (David), Cape Canaveral, FL; daughter-in-law, Debbie, Hawthorne, FL; grandchildren, Brett (Stephanie) Lake Stevens, WA; Brent, Jr., Hawthorne, FL, Gretchen, Marysville, WA; step grandchildren, Chris (Amanda), Ryan, and Pagan Dye, Fort Mill, SC; great grandchildren, Connor and Annabelle Mayes, Lake Stevens, WA; Abby, Michael, Jackson, and Preston Dye, Fort Mill, SC; niece, Mary Anne Keown, Cresent, OR; and numerous extended relatives in Oregon.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Cocoa Beach Police and Fired Departments.
A memorial service will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Cocoa Beach on June 15, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.
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