Long time Mt. Zion resident Mary West Umstead, 89, died May 19. 2018 in Johnson City TN, where she went to live with family after failing health.
Mary was a rare older woman who engaged herself in the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, a longtime piano player having played thousands of hymns, and was active in community affairs. She enjoyed bluegrass music and dancing. She was a real lady whose spirit will be long remembered.
She had been the pianist for over 60 years at Mt. Zion UM Church, providing the community with lovely music, beautiful flowers, and warm hugs.
Through DHS she also provided many miles of transportation to people needing rides to doctors' appointments in Parkersburg, Charleston, Morgantown, and elsewhere.
Mary was well known for her colorful put-together style, her hard work maintaining her yard, her apple dumplings, her love of wing-dings at the Y restaurant in Arnoldsburg, her love of nature, and her long walks through the woods gathering treasures for her artistic creations.
A memorial service and interment will be held at Mt. Zion Methodist Church near Grantsville, WV at a yet to be determined date.
MARY UMSTEAD'S CLOSE ENCOUNTER
UFOs Have Graced Calhoun Skies
By Bob Weaver 2005
"The silent ball of light came from the south past our house and landed in a field above Sycamore," said Mt. Zion resident Mary Umstead, recalling the sighting of a strange object in the night sky during the 1950s on the ridge where she lives.
Umstead (pictured left) said she and her husband, the late Bob Umstead, were sitting on the back porch about 10 p.m. when the oblong-shaped object "streaked by in a split second," landing in a meadow a short distance away. There was no sound.
"Lots of people were seeing UFOs during the 50s," she said, recalling her close encounter.
"Bob started to go see it, around the ridge, but there was another bright light in the distance toward Gilmer County, and the object quickly lifted and streaked toward that light."
"It all happened so suddenly. It came and went very quickly," she said. "I was frightened."
Umstead says she has no reasonable explanation for the sighting. Although she continues to be a sky watcher, she has never seen anything quite like it since the event.
She often sleeps outside in her yard during the summer months and looks toward the stars. "I've seen some pretty strange things up there," she said.
Calhoun skies are great for star gazing and UFO watching, with out-of-state gazers coming to Calhoun Park to view the universe through telescopes, according to park board member Roger Jarvis.
"They come here because we don't have the glow from city lights," he said. "They say it is one of the best places in the country to sky watch."