Doris Cannon of the Smithfield-Clayton area passed away Tuesday at the age of 80. Doris was surrounded by her family at the SECU Hospice House in Smithfield when she died.
She became a staff writer for The Smithfield Herald in 1970 and remained there for 20 years. She won 16 State Press Awards.
One of her newspaper columns was about film star Ava Gardner. It led to contact with Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Banks of Florida, who opened the first Ava Gardner Museum near Smithfield in 1981. She was a volunteer with the project for 16 years and in 2001 authored the book Grabtown Girl, about Ava’s childhood and her lasting ties to home.
Another book, Cold Mountain Bomber Crash: the Enduring Legacy (2005), told the life stories of five World War II heroes who died in a B-25 crash on Haywood’s Cold Mountain in 1946, what happened to their loved ones through the years, and the amazing impact of the crash on local citizens, primarily Roy C. Moody of Waynesville. Both books received honors from the NC Society of Historians.
In 1989, Mrs. Cannon wrote the script for “Johnston!”, a stage production based on Johnston County history. The show, with over 250 actors, dancers and musicians, was presented on six nights in the then-new auditorium at Johnston Community College. For the effort, and for her newspaper and volunteer work, Mrs. Cannon was named 1989 “Smithfield-Selma Citizen of the Year,” and in early 1990 was chosen a “Tar Heel of the Week” by the News and Observer.
She served as president and arts chairman of the Smithfield Woman’s Club for several years and was a long-time volunteer with the Smithfield Area Ministries Food Closet.
Mrs. Cannon said the rocky road of her life had been made easier by her family and other kinfolk, friends, neighbors, newspaper colleagues, and her devoted readers through the years. “I truly had my roses while I lived,” she said.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any memorial donations be made to the Bethel Cemetery Fund, 412 Plott Drive, Canton, NC 28716, or the Bethel Rural Community Organization, P.O. Box 1333, Waynesville, NC, 28786. A private service will be held.