Delma Autrey


Delma Jean “Big Nanny” Autrey, age 76, of Sylva, N.C., went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, April 26, 2020, surrounded by her loving family.

She was the wife of the late Calvin Autrey and the daughter of the late John Lewis and Margaret Magdalene Aiken.

She was also preceded in death by three brothers, J.D. Aiken, Lewis Aiken and Cecil Aiken; three sisters; Dorothy Russell, Doris Coggins and Darlene Johnson.

She is survived by three children; Pam (Mickey) Bumgarner, Calvin (Kathy) Autrey Jr., and Patty (Steve) Shuler, all of Sylva; one brother, Odell Aiken (Nina) of Sapphire; one sister-in-law, June Aiken of Cashiers; six grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and lots of nieces and nephews as well as great-nieces and great-nephews also survive.

Big Nanny was Mom to three and Nanny Autrey to too many people to count. Her house was always full. It was your own fault if you left Nanny’s house sad or hungry.

Delma was a cook by profession, The Jarrett House being her last job.

She was a Member of Cashiers Baptist Church.

A celebration of her life will be held in the parking lot of Hamburg Baptist Church at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2, 2020. She will be laid to rest between her parents in Hamburg Cemetery with the Revs. Johnny Norris, Tommy Madden and Don Coggins officiating.

The following was Nanny’s favorite poem. She has kept this for 56 years.

“How will I be remembered?” 


What will they say about me

Those whom I hold so dear?

What will they best remember

When I’m no longer here?

Will they recall mistakes I’ve made

Battles I never won?

Moments of pain I’ve cause them

Things I have left undone?

Will they sensor my human feelings

And wish I’d been noble and strong?

Will they scoff at the hopes I nurtured

The dreams that somehow went wrong?

Or will they be moved by compassion

Directed from Heaven above

To temper their judgment with kindness

And soften their memories with Love.


By Alice E. Chase