A friend of a friend-Irene Stuart-and-Marilyn Prevatte-February 28

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for February 28, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

Yesterday a great friend of my wife and I had her birthday. Her husband who is always up for surprising her did it again with a party at a local restaurant that caught her off guard. The party was for our good friend Marilyn Prevatte who just turned 60.

Happy Birthday Marilyn!

Marilyn and her husband Tony have been friends of ours since 1986 when we moved to Lumberton, NC as a married couple.

The Prevatte’s have two daughters Tina and Stephanie who are both married. Those two ladies have children of their own and at the present time have given Marilyn and Tony four beautiful granddaughters.

Daughter Stephanie is pregnant with her third child and this time it is scheduled to be a boy. There was a time in our friendship that Tina and Stephanie Prevatte were primary babysitters for the Kenney’s five children. They apparently were not scarred too bad about raising children because each one has turned out to be a wonderful loving mother just like their own mom.

All the recent snow made me reminisce about how I actually met the Prevatte’s. My daughter Becca was taking gymnastics lessons with Marilyn’s daughters and that is how are two families got together. I had never met any of the Prevatte’s but that all changed pretty quick.

One snowy night in the mid-1980’s the Prevatte’s came to our door seeing if we wanted to join them sledding at Robeson County’s highest elevated point. That mountain top we were headed to scale was the exit ramp on I-95 and Carthage Road. If you travel North Carolina it is Exit 19 in Lumberton.

We had cardboard and we got on top of the bridge and rode the snow-covered grass side embankment down the hill. We had five kids between us and the evening was a blast. It was at this point that I got to know Marilyn’s husband Tony and I knew we were kindred spirits. My wife Mira had already formed that opinion about Marilyn. Tony had a fondness for beer and he fell in love with the fact that I had a kegerator in my home.

From that first meeting a friendship was formed that still last today built on dinners, cookouts, vacations, accidents, incidents, Halloween memories, Christmas parties, birthday cakes, fishing trips, newborn babies, and lots of support from the Prevatte’s when Mira would travel with me to the Final Four when I was coaching.

Marilyn Prevatte is one fascinating and fun-loving woman. She is extremely loyal and generous to all types of people. She has a tremendous passion for young children and that passion has served her well in several roles. She formerly owned Lumberton Gymnastics Academy and built that business from the ground up. She sold the business years ago but it still is in existence today in a large part to Marilyn’s business savvy and caring attitude for kids. She also has been a supportive business partner with Tony’s business Prevatte’s Home Sales. That business has won numerous sales awards in the manufactured home industry. Some of those awards have allowed Tony and Marilyn to travel to some pretty cool places.

We found it ironic in 2014 after all those years of Marilyn watching the Kenney children while we went to the Final Four that Tony won a trip to the 2014 NCAA Division I  Men’s Basketball Final Four in Dallas TX to watch the games. They sent us picture of them sitting in the Clayton Homes Corporate Box with Duck Dynasty personalities.


Marilyn is also a cancer survivor and has a special place in her heart for women battling that disease. One of those women was Irene Stuart. Irene was a friend of Marilyn’s that had to fight a battle against both breast cancer and multiple myeloma.


Marilyn Giving Tony the EyePrevatte'sMarilyn GrandkidsLauren Stuart



How Friendship works in Marilyn Prevatte’s world

If you know Marilyn and Tony Prevatte you know their relationship is “precious”.

You also know that Marilyn will stretch the envelope as far as she can in her relationship with her husband. When a topic or request gets to be too much for Tony to handle his response is always the same. Tony shouts out “Marilyn” in a half threatening tone “hoping against hope” she will  cease. For the record it seldom works

If you have ever been a friend with Marilyn you also know she takes the same approach with your friendship. She will stretch the boundaries of a friendship and cross into places most friends just would not considering going. She clearly did that with her friend Irene Stuart who lost her battle to cancer on April 30, 2013 at the age of 54.

Irene left behind her wonderful husband Dr. Dennis Stuart (who is my primary care physician) and three sons Aaron, Justin, Taylor and a daughter Lauren.

Irene was a woman who cared about others just like her friend Marilyn. Irene and Marilyn also shared a common bond of battling breast cancer. Irene’s spent many years of service and dedication to providing women in Robeson County financial assistance for mammogram screenings for the early detection of breast cancer. These two friends actually became stronger thru their battle with cancer. That strength was never more evident than when Irene was in the last years of her struggle.

Marilyn was that friend that visited her during chemo or drove her to chemo. Marilyn was that friend when Irene recovered enough from treatment to invite her and  Dennis to join her and Tony on vacation. Most importantly Marilyn was that friend that picked up some of Irene’s duties as a mom when she was gone. Marilyn made sure Irene’s youngest son Taylor was coached up to pass and obtain his NC Driver’s License. Marilyn said she did this as a gift to Dennis so he could quit his job as Taylor’s permanent chauffeur. Marilyn was that friend that conspired with Irene’s daughter Lauren to throw Dennis a surprise 60th birthday party in Marilyn’s backyard. Marilyn was that friend that went to Lauren’s graduation from NC State in December 2014.

Marilyn Prevatte is a women that stretches the envelope in every friendship she has.

I can hear Irene Stuart loudly calling out “Marilyn” from above.

Unlike Tony’s plea for Marilyn to stop, Irene’s shout out is just to say thanks and Happy Birthday!



  1. Jeff Neelon · · Reply

    I don’t know the Prevatte’s, but they sound like great friends. Irene and Dennis were a wonderful couple we knew over 20+ years

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. […] also have five children so it was not easy to do each week-both of us are grateful for friends like Marilyn Prevatte who allowed us to get away while she became a second mom to the Kenneys. Marilyn below in red […]

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