By Morgan Cook
Weaverville- Although traveling is lots of fun, it is always nice to have a place to come home to. For H. Neil St. Clair and his wife Kay Crews St. Clair, Weaverville is that place.
St. Clair was born in 1952 in Vinton, VA near Roanoke. Neil explained that “Vinton was a small town in the 50s, it was like Leave it to Beaver land.” Neil ended up attending Mars Hill College from 1970 to 1975 as the only member of his family, including all of his cousins, to attend college.
It was here that Neil majored in Music, planning to become a Minister of Music. Neil was introduced to Opera and participated in one, which led him to begin to pursue musical theater. He decided to finish his Bachelor of Music degree, then went back for a year and a half to get a Bachelor of Arts in Theater. He was able to become Teacher Certified for both of his majors.
Neil’s wife Kay Crews St. Clair shares Neil’s love of acting. Kay was born in 1949 in downtown Houston, TX but grew up in Lake Jackson, TX. Kay explained that “in Lake Jackson, we had a lot of surfers and shrimp and it had a Leave it to Beaver feel just like Vinton.” Kay knew that she wanted to be an actor, so she attended Trinity University in San Antonio. While Neil was still in college Kay was working for Drexel Riley’s Company for the Repertory Theater of America. Kay spent nine months on the road, traveling to 35 states and doing daily shows. Kay talked about how much she enjoyed it and explained, “I got to see so much of the country and I got to meet people from so many places, it was wonderful.” She even performed a show in Asheville while Neil was at Mars Hill College, but they did not meet for several more years.
Neil and Kay met when they were both cast in a show in Lexington, Kentucky. The couple moved to Texas where Neil ended up getting his Masters in Fine Arts for acting and directing. Neil then was able to work for two years at a Houston high school, then he was able to work at Howard Payne University for 17 years. Kay was working at the Houston Public Library during this time and eventually became a librarian for the Howard Payne University library where she received her Masters in Library Science. The couple was married in 1977 in Lake Jackson. Neil stated that the key to a long, happy marriage is “listening, consideration, and compromise.” The couple have two children, Jessica, 34, and Rachel, 32.
Neil took a job at Mars Hill College, which brought him back to Weaverville. He worked there from 2000 to 2014. Ironically, it was as the Theater Arts Department Chair, the same program he had been enrolled in while in school. Neil was also appointed as the Production Manager at the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre (SART), an organization that he still participates in. Kay spent her time working as the Library Director at the Carolina Day School. When asked about the decision to live in Weaverville, Neil explained: “Kay went to Asheville and I went to Mars Hill and we needed a place in the middle. Weaverville was a small town and oddly enough I was familiar with it because I did my student teaching at the old North Buncombe High School.”
Kay added that the couple loved living in a place that had four seasons. They had always wanted their children to see the leaves change colors. They are currently members of the St. Matthews Anglican Church, members of SART, and Kay is part of a local knitting group. They love the Weaverville area and were so glad that they were given so many fantastic opportunities to travel and see such amazing places in their lives.