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Group plans tribute for husband, wife square dancers who died from COVID-19

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    ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — The sadness of losing a loved one to COVID-19 is hard to imagine. For the Bannerman family, the sense of grief is doubled — patriarch Glenn and matriarch Evelyn died of coronavirus late last year.

“Coming to grips with that is a good term, in that during this time of COVID, there’s just no way to process that grieving in a big family like ours,” Beth Gunn said. “That we have not been able to really gather.”

This Saturday, the Bannerman Family Dancers will be featured in an encore presentation of the virtual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival. It’s a tribute to the couple that did so much to preserve local traditions.

The Folk Heritage Committee will post three days of entertainment online this weekend.

“He and mom both will be smiling down on that, to know that that’s happening and that they are acknowledging their contribution to mountain culture” Gunn said. “I mean, I can’t think of a better way to honor dad’s commitment to the Folk Heritage Committee and the festival.”

When many folks think of the Bannerman clan, they think of a large family, big enthusiasm and great dancing.

“We had some awesome experiences as a family, I think because of both mom and dad’s love of dance and their creative energy” Gunn said.

Here in the mountains, their calling card was square dancing. For two generations, the Bannerman Family Dancers were regulars at events like Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and Shindig on the Green.

As teenagers, Glenn and Evelyn fell in love with the music, the moves and each other.

Their four kids include Lee Ann and Beth.

“It was the theme that certainly ran through their relationship and their life together,” Lee Ann Bannerman said.

After years of constant motion, the pandemic hit the family harder than most in 2020.

In October, Glenn was diagnosed with coronavirus. The situation grew even direr when his wife was moved into the room in the COVID unit with him.

“That, in particular, was one of the hardest things to witness was the reality of COVID and dad saying goodbye to mom,” Gunn said.

Glenn died days later at the age of 93.

“The likelihood was that there would not be a long time between them because of their love for each other, how long they’d been together,” Bannerman said.

Evelyn passed away 17 days after her husband.

The couple was married 72 years.

Because of the virus, the Bannermans have been unable to grieve together. They can’t celebrate the lives of Glenn and Evelyn like they always wanted to.

“Always, always just knew that there would be a huge square dance in Montreat,” Bannerman said.

They’re gone but certainly not forgotten.

This weekend, the Bannerman Family Dancers will be featured in an encore presentation of the virtual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival. It’s a tribute to the couple that did so much to preserve local traditions.

It’s a welcome semblance of solace for a family that’s lost so much.

“I mean, I can’t think of a better way to honor dad’s commitment to the Folk Heritage Committee and the festival,” Gunn said.

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