The community is mourning the loss of a cherished community member, Novalene Hogue May Slatton. Slatton, age 92, passed away, Monday, February 27 after more than 20 years with the Hope Chamber of Commerce as an administrative assistant.

The community is mourning the loss of a cherished community member, Novalene Hogue May Slatton.  Slatton, age 92, passed away, Monday, February 27 after more than 20 years with the Hope Chamber of Commerce as an administrative assistant.
She moved to Hope with her parents and siblings in 1940 and is known for her strong work ethic and community involvement.
Her brother, Richard Hogue, said their childhood was similar to that of a "gypsy" after their father's cafe in Stamps closed.
"We travel around or five or six years," he recalled. "Us kids went to 16 different schools while daddy was selling magazines on the road. The reason we stopped in Hope, he wanted Novalene and Margaret, my other sister, to graduate in one school."
Hogue said his sister went on to graduate from Hope High School and was awarded a scholarship, which she was unable to utilize due to the families' financial position.
"She was sharp and worked hard anywhere she went," he said, noting her position at the chamber was part-time.
"She got paid for three days a week but went up there five days a week," he said. "She probably needed to stay home more, but she wouldn’t because she was happiest at the chamber - working."
Hogue said his sister did enjoy taking time off work to travel and go to horse races. Her favorite place to eat and where she often joined friends for lunch, was Tailgaters.
Sharon Caldwell, co-owner of Tailgaters and Tourism Commission chairperson, said Slatton was an "icon".
"She is ‘Miss Hope’ and will always be remembered. I'll miss her terribly," Caldwell said of a special friend she shared laughter with nearly every day. "We are going to miss that smiling face of hers. She told me one time, 'I have lived my life, but if it's time for me, I’m ready to go. But if not, I'll keep having fun.'"
Caldwell said "It was a joy to take care of her, because she took care of us and made sure that everyone was loved. She mothered so many."
One such adopted son is Mark Keith, who worked with Slatton for 20 years at the chamber.
One of the first projects the duo tackled was soliciting more sponsorships for the Watermelon Festival and other events.
Keith said Slatton observed the process of creating and selling event sponsorship and was ready and eager to take on the responsibility.
"After a few events she said 'I believe I can help you,'" Keith explained, noting her career had mostly revolved around answering phones and bookkeeping.
"So that's when she started making calls and canvassing the town. That's how her fundraising started and that lasted until the last day she worked just a week or so ago."
Keith said her contributions to the chamber and dedication are like no other he has ever seen.
"She not only volunteered above her duties, but she looked for things to do to help," he said. "You won’t find people who work so hard to add new responsibilities to their job. She always wanted to help; that was the way she was. There won’t be an other one like her."
In addition to chamber and civic duties, Slatton worked with organizations and agencies across the community, leaving a lasting impression.
Hope city manager Catherine Cook said Slatton was vigilant in bringing the community together and communicating chamber functions.
"She was very good for us," Cook said. "She was a good voice and face of the chamber. She will be greatly missed."
Past chamber president Steve Mullins shared Cook's opinion of Slatton.
"Mrs. Novalene was was an absolute inspiration. She was so vibrant and dedicated to her community and coworkers," Mullins said. "She had the interest of Hope first in her heart and was an absolute treasure to be around."
Mullins said Slatton's dedication to Hope came through and in every aspect of her personality.
"You could tell by how she treated other people and people respected her because of that," he said. "Because people respected her so much, no one could tell her no. That's probably why she was so efficient at soliciting sponsorship."
At last year's chamber banquet, Slatton received an award for her service to the chamber.
"When she was walking up, she said under her breath 'I’m going to shoot you,'" Mullins recalled. "She was a humble person and did not want to be recognized. She was so down to earth and was a little embarrassed to get an award, because that's not what motivated her."
Chamber board member and local attorney Blake Montgomery agrees that Slatton was an indispensable asset to the community.
"She loved the chamber of commerce. She took so much pride in getting sponsorships," Montgomery said. "She loved to meet new people and to tell stories over lunch."
Fellow board member Rick Kennedy, editor of the Hope Star, said Slatton made him feel welcome in the community.
"Novalene was a gracious lady, who embodied classic Southern hospitality," Kennedy said. "She was one of the first people I met when I came to Hope in 2015, and she made me feel right at home. I was fortunate to have known her and befriended her.
"For a generation of guys, like me and Mark Keith, she was almost like a mother figure," Kennedy continued. "I will miss her friendship greatly. Hope has lost a great community hostess and representative."