Mary Chesnut (Budd) Gearing

May 17, 1921March 23, 2018

The beautiful blue eyes of Mary Chesnut Budd Gearing peacefully closed for the last time on the night of March 23, 2018 when she entered into eternal rest with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The daughter of Josiah Taylor Budd and Florence Wilhoit Budd, Ches was born on May 17, 1921 in Quincy, Florida. After graduating from Quincy High School, she followed in her mother’s footsteps and attended Sullins College in Bristol, Virginia.

On February 3, 1945, Ches married her first husband – Franklin Titlow – of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She later married her second husband – Dr. Frank Gearing – on July 20, 1991, after moving to her beloved Massanutten where she spent the rest of her life amid a host of wonderful and dear friends.

Ches is survived by her two children, Budd Titlow (Debby) of San Diego, California and Meg James (Kent) of Hilton Head, South Carolina. She is also blessed with five grandchildren – Ryan James, Ashley Weaver (Nick), Mary Kate James, Mariah Tinger (Brian), and Merisa Titlow (Sam Eisenstein). In addition, she knew the joy of welcoming a remarkable five great grandchildren into her life – Harrison Tinger, Sierra Tinger, Max Eisenstein, Wyeth Eisenstein, and Connor Weaver.

Ches had been very active in many community activities throughout her life. While living in Christiansburg, Virginia, she served St. Thomas Episcopal Church as a Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Acolyte Coordinator, and President of the Women of the Church. She was the one of the first women in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia to be elected to a church vestry.

Also, while living in Christiansburg, Ches started the first Special Education Class in Montgomery County, initiated the high school’s first Driver Education Program, and organized a campaign to elect the first woman to the Christiansburg Town Council.

She also took great pride in her work as Communication Chairman for the Blue Ridge District of the Virginia Federation of Women’s Clubs (VFWC). In this capacity, she compiled the 50-year history of the Junior Federation of Women’s Clubs. A bound copy of the history is kept on display in the Richmond Headquarters of the VFWC. Ches was also, very proud to be a member of The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Ches moved to Massanutten on April 8, 1981 and immediately fell in love with “the Mountain” and the people who live there. For the next 37 years, her life was a flurry of bridge luncheons and classes, Super Bowl parties, evening activities at the Country Club, and convivial friendships that made the City of Harrisonburg and Massanutten Mountain such outstanding places for her to live. We wish to thank her special caregivers- Janice, Karen, Pam, Pam, Vicki, Janet, Jean, and Corena - whose tender administrations gave her a wonderful quality of life. We would, also, like to thank Asera Hospice Care who so lovingly assisted with the final days of Ches’ life.

A memorial service will be held this summer.

In lieu of flowers, Ches asks her dear friends to send donations (payable to HHH, Inc.) to the Historical Haile Homestead, 4941 SW 91st Terrace, Suite101, Gainesville, Florida 32608. In addition to this being a key component of Ches’ family history, Haile Kanapaha Plantation (Historical Haile Homestead) is featured on the National Register of Historic Sites. Donations could also be sent to Emmanuel Episcopal Church/660 S Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22801.

Lindsey Funeral Homes & Crematory of Harrisonburg is handling arrangements and condolences may be sent to the family by visiting


  • Historic Haile Homestead
  • Emmanuel Episcopal Church


  • A Memorial Service will be held this summer

Mary Chesnut (Budd) Gearing

have a memory or condolence to add?

Judi Crawford

March 29, 2018

I am heartbroken!!! After being away and returning home to this news... I hope you know how much I loved her... her grace character and strength as a women will always give me the guide to live my life by! Rest well miss Ches and thank you for sharing your life with me and my children.

Brandy Rosson

March 27, 2018

I’m so saddened to hear about the passing of Ches. I spent a few years caring for Ches, she was always so kind and treated me like one of her own. She taught me many things and shared many of her stories from her childhood with me. I will always cherish those good times we shared together. My deepest sympathy to Meg and Kent, Budd and the rest of her family.

Anita Spence

March 27, 2018

Dearest Budd, Meg, and family, We want to extend our deepest sympathies for your great loss. A light has gone out on Massanutten mountain that can never be replaced. She and I became friends 37 years ago and she touched my life with her encouragement and strength, all the while being a dear and caring friend. She was a remarkable and faith driven woman. We will miss great her spark and spunk. We pray for God's peace and love to comfort you in your time of sorrow.
Love and sympathy,
Jerry and Anita Spence

Karen Kirkman

March 26, 2018

Ches was an amazing woman who loved her Haile history! We at the Historic Haile Homestead will be forever grateful for her support and the invaluable stories she shared with us.
We are thankful for Ches' life; she will be deeply missed. We wish Meg and Bud and all of Ches' family peace and comfort.
Karen Kirkman, President & Historian
Historic Haile Homestead Inc.
4941 SW 91st Ter, Suite 101
Gainesville, FL 32608

Kaley Behl

March 26, 2018

She was a remarkable woman, full of life and compassion for those around her. A fighting spirit, a true supporter of the Historic Haile Homestead. I love incorporating her life in my tours. Godspeed. “Well done thou good and faithful servant!” Until we meet in heaven, you’re forever in our hearts. ❤️