Elbert Sherman Toms, 84, of Bedford, passed away on Wednesday, September 20, 2023. He was born in Bedford, VA on February 1, 1939 a son of the late Elbert Burford Toms and Mary Gross Toms. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Mary Alice Toms; son, Elbert Lowry Toms; grandchildren, Ashley Nicole Johnson, Mary Margaret Campbell; five great-grandchildren, Alexis Toms-Parker, Kenneth Johnson, Jr., Khizer Johnson, McKayla Marie Toms, Ana Grace Campbell; sister, Doris Lafon (Ralph); niece, Crystal Lafon; and nephew, Ricky Lafon. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m., on Monday, September 25, 2023 at Burch-Messier Walnut Street Chapel, 1235 Walnut Street, Bedford with Rev. Larry Brodie officiating. Family will receive friends one hour prior to the service beginning at 10:00 a.m. Burial will follow in Greenwood cemetery. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Timberlake Baptist Church, Ministry of Michael Laury, 21395 Timberlake Rd., Lynchburg, VA 24502 or Donations Processing Center, Autism Speaks, P.O. Box 37148, Boone, IA 50037-0148. Arrangements by Burch-Messier Funeral Home, 1235 Walnut St. Bedford, 540-586-7360.

Sybil Dickenson Elkins, 84, peacefully left this life and joined her husband in heaven on September 16, 2023. Sybil’s life was a testament to the timeless values of humility, gratitude, and respect for all of creation. Sybil’s unwavering dedication to the noble profession of nursing graced the halls of Virginia Baptist Hospital where she touched the lives of countless patients with her compassionate care. Sybil loved traveling with her husband Bill, and throughout their lives they traveled extensively and made many friends. She was a devoted wife to Bill, mother to Kimberly and William, and cherished grandmother to Kelsey, Katlyn, Kinsley, Karson, and Tyler. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m., on Saturday, September 30, 2023 at Pleasant View Baptist Church, 19278 Forest Road, Lynchburg. Family will receive friends one hour prior to the service beginning at 1:00 p.m. Arrangements by Burch-Messier Funeral Home, Bedford, 540-586-7360.

Curtis Ellwood Cocke, 69, of Bedford, passed away on Friday, September 15, 2023. He was born in Bedford, VA on July 20, 1954 a son of the late Curtis Odell Cocke and Mary Burton Cocke Lawrence.  He proudly served in the United States National Guard and retired from Gunnoe’s Sausage. He is survived by his son, Andy Cocke; sisters, Barbara Jean Sims (Kenneth), Ann Marie Miller (Roy); brothers, Donald Odell Cocke (Patricia), Johnny Cocke, Wesley Cocke; and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., on Monday, September 18, 2023 at Burch-Messier Walnut Street Chapel, 1235 Walnut Street, Bedford with Rev. Rick Dellinger officiating. Family will gather at the home of Barbara Jean Sims, 2182 Coltons Mill Road, Bedford.


Beatrice Kaye Canady Fowler, 85, of Bedford, passed away on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. She was born in Nakina, NC on October 17, 1937 a daughter of Jim Ward and Dora Milligan Ward. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her sister, Marilyn Hardie. She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Robert Anson “Bob” Fowler; sons, Brad Fowler (Cheryl), Craig Fowler (Kristi), Daniel Fowler (Janine); grandchildren, Hannah, Emilie, Rachel, Meagan, Sammy; sister, Billye Best; and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at Main Street United Methodist Church with Rev. Dawn Compton officiating. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Main Street United Methodist Church or Bedford Christian Ministries.  Arrangements by Burch-Messier Funeral Home, Bedford, 540-586-7360.

Coleman Robert Reap, 91, formerly of Scranton, PA, died peacefully on September 6, 2023 at his home on Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. Married to Judith Reap of Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, Cole and Judy were parents to Michael (Seattle, WA), Robert (San Diego, CA) Deirdre Reap Mull (Ridgely, WV), Patrick (deceased) and Maura Reap (Moldova). They are also survived by their grandchildren, Austin, Ian and Nolan Mull and Savannah Lawson Loveless and Alaina Reap. He and Judy would have celebrated their sixty-first Anniversary on September 8, they were married in 1962.  Born to Michael and Helen Reap on December 8, 1931, Cole was the first son of four children that included Richard Reap, Helen Marie Walsh (deceased), and Kathryn Saunders (deceased). In addition, he was preceded in death by four half-brothers—Belden, Joseph, Cyril and Donald Reap. Cole was a man who sought and conquered many challenges. Following graduation from Dunmore High School (PA), he enlisted in the Navy during the Korean War. During this time, he realized that he wanted to become an engineer. To qualify for college, he enrolled in Navy correspondence studies in math and science. Upon passing its entrance exam, he was accepted as a Chemical Engineering student at Drexel University in Philadelphia.  Following graduation from Drexel in 1959, he was hired as a chemical engineer at a Philadelphia area refinery, but quickly foresaw that a profession as a patent attorney was a better career fit. To achieve this, he relocated to Washington D.C., joined the U. S. Patent Office, enrolled as a night student at D.C.’s Georgetown Law School, married Judy, and became the father of two boys by the time of his graduation in 1965. Having achieved his dream profession, Cole was a great success as a patent attorney, obtaining patents in areas such as food chemistry, petrochemicals and gases. A devoted father, his five children were paramount. Summers vacations were typically spent camping, first in pup tents, later in a pop-up trailer, then a full-size camper fitted with cabinets and devices he had fashioned himself. His interests were varied and passionate. He was a keen history student, who possessed a great knowledge of the American Revolution and the Civil War. He never missed an opportunity on weekend rides with the kids to school them about events that occurred near every road marker or monument they visited. Cole also possessed a deep love of French, German, English and Latin languages. Although he did not speak these languages fluently (except for English), he avidly read foreign texts and was precise in his knowledge of their unique grammar rules. He enriched his mind by enriched by attending evening classes in these languages, as well as studying for and passing a Pennsylvania Real Estate License exam, simply because he loved the concept of real estate. His mind kept busy with varied interests; he was particularly devoted to his Catholic faith, but was also quite passionate about plant grafting, electrical wiring, the Philadelphia Eagles football team, Big Band music and ballroom dancing, all things Irish, and World War II. However, his greatest passion was Smith Mountain Lake. He loved to cruise its waters, often taking friends and family to see the sights or dock and dine. His greatest interest at the Lake, however, was golf, which he embraced with a fierce dedication while diligently learning and practicing its skills and techniques. For someone who had only played a few rounds prior to moving to the Lake, his pursuit of the game was relentless. He chased that little white ball as if it were a law school discussion, even achieving the elusive “hole in one”. Throughout his retirement, he forged and enjoyed new friends who also shared his love of the game. In later years Cole faced several medical issues that individually might have destroyed other men, including cancers, kidney disease, sight problems, neuro issues, pneumonia. He should have been known as Cole the Triumphant. Unfortunately, each battle left an inevitable scar and at age 91, his physical body finally succumbed to the cumulative damage of so many maladies.  On September 6, 2023, this courageous Catholic man went Home where he will live the Peace of the Lord and realize his eternal destiny of love.  Oh, yes, in front of him there will be acres and acres of vibrant greens, easy putts, and roughs that vanish should a ball go towards them. And all will be Love. Always Love. Services will be held on Thursday, October 5, 2023 at Resurrection Catholic Church, Moneta, Virginia. Reception at 10:00 a.m. followed by Mass at 11:00. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Resurrection Catholic Church or the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Arrangements by Burch-Messier Funeral Home, Bedford, 540-586-7360.




Nathaniel Wayne Hamilton, 46, of Appomattox, passed away on Tuesday, September 5, 2023. He was born in Lynchburg, VA on May 12, 1977 a son of David Allen Hamilton, Sr. and Audrey Witt Hamilton.  Wayne enjoyed spending time with his family and friends.  In addition to his parents David and Audrey, he is survived by his daughters, Isabella Kay Hamilton, Sophia Grace Hamilton; brother, David Hamilton, Jr. (Ashley); sister, Tracey Hamilton; aunts, Pamela Willoughby, Mary Bare, Joyce Stinson, Shelby Logwood; and numerous nieces and nephews.  Family will receive friends from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 7, 2023 at Burch-Messier Walnut Street Chapel, 1235 Walnut St., Bedford, VA 24523. Arrangements by Burch-Messier Funeral Home, Bedford, 540-586-7360.


On December 13, 1941, a daughter was born to Rev. and Mrs. John A. McKenry, Jr. in Lynchburg, Virginia. Eighty-one years later, Elizabeth McKenry Adams passed away peacefully on September 5, 2023 after a long and brave battle with cancer. I know this will bring sadness to the many people her life has touched over the years, but she would (and did!) remind you all to “Be Happy!” Elizabeth was preceded in death by her parents and her two brothers, John (Jack) and James (Jim) McKenry. She is survived by her husband, Carl H. Adams; step-son, Hank Adams of Lynchburg; her sister, Natalie Callis of New Jersey; and a loving group of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Elizabeth graduated from George Washington High School and Averett College in Danville, Virginia. She pursued varied and interesting careers throughout her life including Certified Dental Assistant, buyer for Foresco Lighting Co in Illinois, owner of Simply Cross Stitch Shop in Boonesboro and owner of Nana’s Cottage Bed and Breakfast in Bedford. In later life, she worked and taught at Backstitches Yarn Shop in Forest. Elizabeth’s sister Natalie expresses her heartfelt love and gratitude to all the family, friends and caregivers who rallied to her “beautiful sister’s” side during her illness. It truly was a loving village of support, and she and Elizabeth’s husband Carl are forever grateful. A Celebration of Life will be held at Fort Hill United Methodist Church on September 11, 2023 at 11:00 am, immediately followed by a luncheon in the church social hall. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the church would be greatly appreciated: 106 Oakridge Blvd. Lynchburg, Virginia 24502. Arrangements by Burch-Messier Funeral Home, Bedford, 540-586-7360.