Dr. Cecil A. Pless Jr.
August 25, 1930 ~ September 24, 2023
Asheville, North Carolina
Resided in: Asheville, North Carolina
Cecil A. Pless, Jr. left his footprints in the sands of Namibia, summitted Mount Kilimanjaro at age 58, photographed the sunrise in Patagonia, visited the ruins of Ephesus, hunted in the Rocky Mountains in his youth, danced in small towns of Cuba before the revolution, canoed the Nantahala River and hiked an 80 mile section of the Appalachian Trail at age 11. Despite these many far flung adventures, Western North Carolina always remained Cecil’s beloved home, where this avid outdoorsman and Tarheel confidently knew the many streams, trails and mountains. With pride, Cecil would often say that he spent much of his wonderful life within 5 miles of his birthplace in Biltmore Village.
Cecil attended the Asheville School followed by the University of North Carolina where he received his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Dentistry. While at Chapel Hill, he ran varsity track in the high hurdles, was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, the Delta Sigma Pi dental fraternity and Gorgon’s Head Lodge and most importantly it is in Chapel Hill where he met his future bride Grace Gordon.
After dental school, Dr. Pless served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force from 1955 until 1957. Upon returning home to Asheville, Cecil became a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, serving multiple times as warden, on the vestry, as an usher and in the choir. He helped build many Habitat for Humanity homes, served breakfast for the A Hope Team, volunteered with the Room in the Inn, spent countless hours, chainsaw in hand, clearing and restoring the trails, roads and grounds of Lake Logan Episcopal Conference Center and was a Board member for both the Asheville Area Red Cross and Health Adventure.
Dr. Pless was a proud and accomplished dentist, treating patients of several generations in Asheville for 44 years. Affectionately known as “Painless Pless,” Cecil was the President of the Buncombe County Dental Society and the First District Dental Society. He served as the President of the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners and was a Fellow of the International College of Dentists.
Cecil was a member of the Biltmore Forest Country Club where he also served on the Board of Governors, and he was a member and Chief of Staff of the Brigade of Guards. Some of Cecil’s passions included photography, fishing, singing in a barbershop quartet and buck dancing with the Canton YMCA Clogging Team. For 50 years Cecil lovingly restored his one room cabin located at a cool 5,300 feet just below a ridge on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundary overlooking Cataloochee and appropriately named “Shaky Shack.”
Dr. Pless was preceded in death by his parents Dr. Cecil and Gladys Pless and his sister Dorothy Moore. He is survived by his loving and patient wife of 68 years, Grace Gordon Pless, his devoted daughters Laura Pless and her husband Tim Bicknell of Silverthorne, Colorado, Page Pless of Seattle, Washington, Elizabeth Eckl of Asheville, NC and Amy Fleming and her husband John of Asheville NC, along with 6 adoring grandchildren Alden Blatter, Melissa Chumbley, Carter Eckl, Mia Eckl, Jack Fleming and William Fleming, all of whom would at a moment’s notice travel to the top of Hemphill Bald, to the warm waters of Playa Ocotal or to the ends of the earth to be with their grandfather.
A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday September 30, 2023 at Trinity Episcopal Church, Asheville, NC. A reception will follow in the church’s Tuton Hall.
Memorial gifts in honor of Cecil’s life can be made to Trinity Episcopal Church, 60 Church Street, Asheville, NC 28801, to Lake Logan, 25 Wormy Chestnut Lane, Canton, NC 28716 or to the charity of your choice. The family gives a warm and special thanks to the wonderful caregivers at Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community.
Groce Funeral Home’s Lake Julian team is assisting the family.