Homer Talmadge Sides, 92, of Sparta, North Carolina, passed away peacefully on Thursday, July 6th, 2023 at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston Salem, NC surrounded by his family.
Homer was born on April 27th, 1931 in Winston Salem to Perry and Paul Sides. Early in Homer’s childhood, he had a dream of owning his own business. While hunting with his father in 1941, as a 10 year old boy, he saw holly, mistletoe, and cedar trees in the woods and mentioned to his father how they could sell these at the local farmer’s market. Homer went on to graduate from Arcadia High School in 1949. He married Bonnie Lou Payne in 1951 and following their marriage began their family and were blessed with three daughters: Loretta, Brenda, and Debra. Early in their marriage, Homer followed his childhood dream of taking cedar trees to the local farmer’s market. He eventually moved to his own tree lot at the corner of Five Points on Stratford Road in Winston Salem and grew his own Christmas Trees, then White Pines, in Davie County with his brother Bruner Sides. During this time, Homer wrote letters to Agriculture Commissioners all over the United States inquiring about farming different species of trees as a crop. He learned of the Fraser Fir Tree and how it grew naturally in the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. Despite many doubts by others, Homer knew this tree would be the future of the Tree Industry. He and his brother Bruner proceeded to purchase their first farm in Laurel Springs, North Carolina. Homer and his brother Bruner traveled back and forth from Winston Salem to their farm in the mountains. Homer and his wife Bonnie eventually settled permanently in Sparta, North Carolina as they continued to grow their business. He was one of the Founding Fathers in establishing the North Carolina Christmas Tree Growers Association and served a term as its President. In the early 70’s, Homer and his wife Bonnie started transitioning from retail to wholesale markets across the nation. In 1972 they won County, State, and National Christmas Tree Competitions winning the honor of placing The Christmas Tree in the White House for President Nixon. This same year, the Governor’s wife, Pat Holshouser, visited their farm to choose the Christmas Tree for The North Carolina Governor’s Mansion. Homer and Bonnie continued to expand their business during the next several years, and at one point were one the largest growers in the state of North Carolina. In 1994, Homer and Bonnie received the “Outstanding Service Award” from the Alleghany County Christmas Tree Association for their service and dedication to the business. Homer left a legacy of hard work and ingenuity for all our family and others to follow. Everyone who knew Homer benefited from his brilliant mind, his generosity, and his jolly spirit. He was the true picture of the American dream! He loved growing Christmas Trees so much, he would often say, “If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I would plant a tree today”, AND HE DID!! In 2021, Homer became the first Christmas Tree Grower inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame. His hobbies included flying his airplane, deep sea fishing, hunting, and training hunting dogs. As a young adult, he also won many competitions playing his mandolin. Homer and Bonnie are also members at the Friedberg Moravian Church in Winston Salem; where they have both attended since childhood. In 2021, Homer was honored to lead the Easter processional as the oldest living member of Friedberg. He and his wife Bonnie set an excellent example celebrating 72 years of marriage in February of 2023. Homer also celebrated 92 years in April of this year before going home to be with the Lord on July 6th,2023 at 2:22am. He is survived by his wife Bonnie Sides, three daughters: Loretta Shore and spouse Rick Long of Lewisville, NC; Brenda Nelson and spouse John Nelson (both deceased); Debra Haynes and spouse Mike Haynes of Charleston, SC. Four Grandchildren: Katherine Shore and spouse Jamie; Chad Reece and spouse Kim; Christy Maddox and spouse Kevin; Michael Haynes and spouse Heidi. Nine Great Grandchildren: Landon Hartman; Alexis Reece; Austin, Carson, Haven, and Eden Maddox; Trey, Michaela, and Helena Haynes. The family will receive friends at Thomas Family Funeral Service in Sparta, NC on Tuesday July 11th from 6:00 to 8:00pm. On Wednesday July 12th at 10:00am at Friedberg Moravian Church in Winston Salem, the family will receive friends. The funeral service will begin at 11:00am. Officiating the services will be Reverend Jimmy Newsome and Dr. Michael Haynes.
“God saw you were getting tired, and a cure was not to be;
so he put HIS arms around you, and whispered, Come With Me.
With tearful eyes we watched you suffer, and saw you FADE AWAY;
Although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay.
A GOLDEN HEART stopped beating. Hard working hands to rest;
God broke our hearts to prove to us, He Only Takes The Best.”
Thomas Family Funeral Service is honored to be serving the Sides Family. If you wish, online tributes may be extended to the family at www.thomasfamilyfs.com.