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November 12, 1949 ~ December 30, 2023 (age 74) 74 Years Old
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A “Renaissance Man” and “One of a Kind” visionary soul whose creativity knew no bounds, and whose impact was felt far and wide. Mark Stephen Willingham, affectionately known as "Steve," passed away on Saturday, December 30, 2023 at his home. Steve was born on November 12, 1949, in Atlanta, GA. He was preceded in death by his father, Billy Arnold Willingham.
Steve was no ordinary individual; he was a man of multifaceted talents that dazzled and inspired all fortunate enough to witness his artistry. His legacy resonates most notably in the picturesque landscapes of Ashe County, where his innovative spirit brought life to canvases, architectural designs, and vibrant stained-glass creations.
As a locally revered artist, Steve’s creations leave an unforgettable imprint on both locals and visitors alike with his iconic "Three Cows" masterpiece, the mascots of Ashe County Cheese. His artistic brilliance extended beyond canvases; the walls of West Jefferson bore witness to his genius through captivating murals and the heartwarming wall of photos that became an integral part of the town's fabric.
Steve's creative vision transcended traditional boundaries. His architectural prowess shaped spaces and communities, his woodworking skills crafted timeless pieces, and his mastery of landscape design transformed ordinary settings into breathtaking vistas.
Yet, his creativity didn't cease at visual arts. Steve's eloquence flowed through his pen, etching profound words onto pages as an author and songwriter, leaving a legacy that resonates through time.
Beyond his artistic accomplishments, Steve's warmth and generosity endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing him. His kind soul and infectious enthusiasm for life left an indelible mark on countless hearts, forever cherished by friends, family, and his community.
Mr. Willingham is survived by his loving wife, Lisa T. Willingham, his mother, Edith King Overholser of Gainesville, GA, one daughter, Traci W. Gagnon (Jeffrey) of Sugar Hill, GA, two brothers, Kelly S. Willingham (Lynn) and Phillip D. Willingham (Paula) both of Clayton, GA. Two grandchildren, Natalie C. Gagnon and Matthew W. Gagnon both of Atlanta, GA also survive.
As we bid farewell to a remarkable soul, let us celebrate the life of Mark Stephen Willingham, a true original, a cherished artist, and a beloved friend whose brilliance illuminated our world in ways that will be cherished for generations to come.
Join us on the farm to celebrate this incredible life on Saturday, January 6, 2024 at 2240 Little Peak Creek Road in Jefferson, NC 28640.
Drop in Visitation: 4:00pm-5:00pm
Remembrance Service and Prayer: 5:00pm-5:30pm
Immediate family and close friends are also invited to a private dinner (5:30pm-7:00pm).
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Ashe County Arts Council; 303 School Avenue, West Jefferson NC 28694 , Florence Art School; P.O. Box 865, West Jefferson, NC 28694, the Ashe County Humane Society; P.O. Box 1776, Jefferson, NC 28940, or to Habitat For Humanity; 322 West Lamar Street
Americus, Georgia 31709-3543.