John Stephen Locke, 92, of Drakes Branch gained his eternal reward on June 11, 2014. He was born near Drakes Branch, and was the youngest of 6 children of the late Ordie Vercer and Blanche Poole Locke. He was married to the late Rachel Smith Locke for over 70 years, until her death in 2012. He faithfully served his Lord, his country, and his community. He was the retired owner and operator of the Western Auto Associate Store in Drakes Branch. He was a dedicated member of the Drakes Branch Baptist Church, where he served in many capacities. He was the mayor of Drakes Branch for 26 years, an active member of the Charlotte County Rescue Squad for 34 years, and a member of the Drakes Branch Volunteer Fire Department for 55 years. John was blessed with the ability to repair almost anything, and with the skill to build devices to make life easier for himself and others.
John served with the 247th Engineer Combat Battalion of the XIX Corps in World War II, and attained the rank of Sergeant. His unit landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day plus 3, and saw much action against the enemy while constructing and repairing bridges and roads across France and Belgium and into Germany. John received the Bronze Star and the Certificate of Merit for his actions. A detailed and fascinating 3-part account of his wartime service was published in The Charlotte Gazette in June 2004.
John is survived by several nieces and nephews, in addition to a brother-in-law, Harry B. Smith and his wife, Janet, of Lynchburg. He is also survived by a friend who was like a brother, J. H. Goude, Jr., of Drakes Branch. He was preceded in death by four brothers, Vercer P., Thomas E. Ed, L. Owen, and James W.; and one sister, Alice L. Barksdale.
The family wishes to express appreciation to the staff at Wayland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Keysville, for their care for John during the last years of his earthly life, and to Hospice of Virginia for their care in his last days. We also are thankful for the faithful friends and relatives who visited him and brightened his days.
The Browning-Duffer Funeral Home of Keysville is serving the family. Services, with The Reverend Adam Blosser officiating, will be held at the Drakes Branch Baptist Church at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 14, followed by interment in the Drakes Branch Presbyterian Church Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the Drakes Branch Baptist Church from 12:30 until the time of the service. At other times, they will be at the home of his nephew, Ned Locke. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Drakes Branch Baptist Church, P. O. Box 192, Drakes Branch, VA, 23937, or the Charlotte County Rescue Squad, P. O. Box 330, Keysville, VA, 23947.