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Ashton Meredith Felts, Jr.

Berlin, Virginia – Ashton Meredith Felts, Jr. (Mert Felts), 72, of Berlin, Virginia passed away surrounded by the love of his family, community, and the peaceful light of God on May 17, 2020, following a courageous 5-year battle with cancer.

Mert was born December 19, 1947 to Louise “Pudden” Taylor Felts and the late Ashton Meredith Felts, Sr. of Berlin, Virginia.  He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Jean Thompson Felts; his son Ashton Meredith Felts, III (Trip) and fiancé Kristina Caroline Johnson of Suffolk, Virginia; two daughters Ellyn Felts Hassell and husband Derek V. Hassell of Williamsburg, Virginia and Taylor Felts Billingsley and husband Ryan E. Billingsley of Arlington, Virginia; his brother John Pate Felts and partner Ron Bracco of Washington, DC; and 6 grandchildren, Cayla Brittle Felts, Ashton Pate Felts, Maxton Anderson Hassell, Eva Page Hassell, Everett Meredith Billingsley, and Hazel Page Billingsley.

A faithful servant of God, Mert will forever be remembered for his deep love of family, church, and community. His curiosity, ingenuity, and tremendous work ethic extended into every aspect of his life. In all things, his gentle spirit and patient demeanor served as a bright light to all who knew him…and there was always a humorous story to tell.

Mert had a life-long love of the art and science of glassblowing. Many of his pieces are in use today at scientific institutions, and on Christmas trees and shelves of his family and friends. As a young high school student, Mert’s interest in glassblowing led to several summer internships at Phillip Morris. Under the mentorship of John Bivens, who later became a dear friend and colleague, Mert’s love of this unique art blossomed. After receiving his B.S. in Chemistry from North Carolina Wesleyan College (where he snagged the love of his life, Jean) and studying scientific glassblowing at Salem County Technical Institute in New Jersey, he ventured to the State Department of Agriculture in Richmond, as both chemist and glassblower. A few years later, he and Jean returned to Berlin to help his father Meredith run their family farm in the heart of Southampton County. It was here that his love of farming and glassblowing became intertwined.

While farming and raising three children, Mert spent part of his weekends at Old Dominion University’s School of Sciences where he repaired scientific glass. Often called the Phantom Glassblower, he slipped in on Sunday evenings to fill orders for the upcoming week. As an active member of the American Scientific Glassblowers Society, he researched and applied the latest techniques. Over the years, he provided scientific glassware for Eastern VA Medical School, Colonial Williamsburg, the College of William and Mary, VA Institute of Marine Science, and Research Glass, among others.

Mert had a deep desire to give back. He immersed himself in local and state initiatives, sharing his knowledge and skillset. He served as President of the Virginia Peanut Grower’s Association and member of the Board of Virginia-Carolina Peanut Promotions, advocating for peanut subsidies. As a member and Chairman of the Board of Economic Development of Southampton County and Chairman of the Board of Directors at Paul D. Camp Community college, his wisdom and guidance inspired future leaders. Through his work in the Ivor Ruritan Club, he improved his community and touched many lives.

After retiring from farming, Mert marketed Felts Peanut Farm peanuts, designed original Christmas ornaments, and fulfilled glassblowing contracts with Jefferson Lab and James R. Reed & Associates. He connected with old friends from his Nu Gamma Phi Fraternity days at Wesleyan, of which he was a charter member.

Throughout his journey, Mert made time for what mattered most. He was a loyal member of Millfield Baptist Church serving as Deacon, Trustee, Sunday School teacher, Historian, RA leader, and very distinguished bass in the Millfield Choir. He was a follower of Christ and loved others deeply.

We will miss his laugh, his stories, and his calm presence. He was a loving husband, father, son, brother, and friend to many. In his own words, “Slow down, enjoy the beauty of this earth, and spend time with family and friends. We only go through this life once.”

A graveside service will be held at 2:00 pm, Saturday, June 27, 2020 at Millfield Baptist Church Cemetery. The family is being served by R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory, 11414 General Mahone Hwy, Wakefield VA where condolences may be posted to www.RWBakerFH.com. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Millfield Baptist Church at www.millfieldlife.org or Duke Cancer Institute at www.dukecancerinstitute.org/give.

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Our deepest condolences, Taylor and family. Sending lots of love always Eileen, Anthony, Isabelle and Lucas

Eileen Avery May 13 2021 12:00 AM

Taylor and family, so very sorry for your loss. I pray for Gods arms of peace and comfort to surround you through out your season of grief . Sending love and prayers. Robin

Robin Bryant May 13 2021 12:00 AM

I am heartbroken for all of you. Mert was an amazing man who followed his dreams and worked hard, and with passion. I love hearing stories about his journey. I am so fortunate that I have met and spent time with you all. It provided me with the pleasure of getting to know him and gain understandIng of how wonderful and special of a person he is. He will be missed, and I know his legacy and life will live on through all of you. Thank you Ellyn for introducing me to your amazing father.

Tammy Underwood May 13 2021 12:00 AM

Our hearts and prayers go out to Ellyn and the entire Felts family during this time of loss. May our Lord bless and comfort you and your family. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Wendy Mihalcoe and family May 13 2021 12:00 AM


Mike & Donna Magee May 13 2021 12:00 AM

Our thoughts and prayers are with Ellyn and the entire family. What an amazing man and wonderful story.

Denise Kadilak May 13 2021 12:00 AM

We are so saddened to hear of Mert's passing. Jean, if you need us for anything, feel free to call us at the store, or at home. Mert gave it his best fight and now he's in the Lord's hands. Our fondest sympathies to each of you during your time of mourning. We feel confident he is surrounded by family he previously lost and a reunion is in the works. Take care of Aunt Pudden, as this has to be difficult for her. Give her a hug from us. Again, if you need us for anything, just pick up the phone. We are here for you.

Chuck Kolb and Brenda Layne May 13 2021 12:00 AM

Reid and I send our utmost condolences to this loving family. We have been enjoying stories Reid has been sharing with us about his cousin Mert. Our girls adored Mert. Logan loved speaking about chemistry formulas with him and having conversations that were over everyone elses heads! We have displayed his ornaments today in his honor. We will miss him - we loved being around him. Love to his wonderful family.

Holly Miller May 13 2021 12:00 AM

Pate - we are so sorry to hear about your brother. We would have loved to have known him - he sounds like a wonderful man - just like you. We are holding you and your sweet family in our hearts with lots of love. Love, Mark and Joi Pryor

Mark and Joi Pryor May 13 2021 12:00 AM

A ridiculously great man. You will be missed my friend!

Edward Railey III May 13 2021 12:00 AM

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