Waynesville, Dr. Virgil Marvin Messer, age 80, passed away on Wednesday, October 13th, 2021, while in home hospice care in Texas where the family had been caring for him. Dr. Messer, son of the late Albert and Laura Ida Chambers Messer, was born and raised in Haywood County. It was there that he met and fell in love with his wife of 55 years, Patsy Kelley Messer who passed away in 2015.
In addition to his parents and his wife, Virgil was preceded in death by a brother, Harold Eugene Messer, and his wife Arlene Messer Jacobs; a mother-in-law Hazel Kelley and a father-in-law Robert Kelley; four brothers-in-law, Wayne, David, Gerald, and Dan Kelley; a niece, Carolyn Kelley Reagan; and his and Patsy’s beloved collie mix Hunny Girl, among many other animals.
As a first-generation college student, Virgil attended Wake Forest University, and Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. He served in Vietnam as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Army, and then eventually returned to his native mountains where he practiced internal medicine and emergency medicine. During his career, he also routinely volunteered his services as a physician both locally and abroad to those without access to health care.
Virgil and Patsy loved camping and took their children on many and varied trips throughout the mountains and cross country, and later, after all their children were grown, continued to camp and tour all over these mountains and all over the country. They also had a big heart for rescue animals, and that love provided them several cherished pets over the years. They were members of the First Baptist Church of Waynesville. Virgil was an avid cyclist into his late 70’s, and at one point biked the Mountains to the Sea trail across North Carolina. In his senior years, Virgil developed a love of drawing, and was inspired by his classes at Inspired Art Ministry, Inc, and his classmates. He also loved old homes, antiques, local history, ACC basketball, and his 7 grandchildren.
Virgil is survived by daughters, Malinda Messer, of Waynesville, and Melanie Tipping and her husband Doug, of Fort Worth, Texas; a son, Al Messer and his wife, April, of Asheville; sisters-in-law, Mary Lou Kelley of Hampton, VA, Joan Kelley of Asheville, Sue Mashburn and her husband, Lester, of Waynesville, Carolyn Stephenson and her husband, Jerry, of Canton, and Frankie Plemmons and her husband, Jennings of Waynesville; seven grandchildren, Sarah Nichols and her husband Joel, Emily and Megan Tipping, and Allie, Payton, Van and Miles Messer; many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, grand dogs and great-grand dogs; and his sweet black lab mix, Jenna.
A celebration of life service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 6, 2021, in the chapel of the First Baptist Church of Waynesville with Reverend Dr. Robert Prince, III officiating. Virgil’s niece, Beverly Messer Wintenburg, and his nephew, Edward Messer will deliver eulogies. Niece, Pam Messer Sinclair will read scripture and offer prayer. Doug Edwards, Dwain Edwards, Ed Messer, Bill Wintenburg, David Wintenburg, Bruce Sinclair, Tim Sinclair, and Doug Tipping will serve as pallbearers. Music will be provided by members of the music ministry at the First Baptist Church. The family will receive friends from 12:30 p.m. until 1:45 p.m. at the church. Burial will follow the service at Ratcliff Cove Cemetery with Dr. Prince officiating, and Bruce Sinclair will offer prayer.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Blue Ridge Community Health Services, 220 5th Ave East, Hendersonville, NC 28792. Funds that are given in Dr. Messer’s memory (indicate in the memory portion of your check) will be designated to support the Haywood County clinic, a non-profit which provides health care that is accessible to all.
The care of Dr. Messer has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville.