John Rabb Family Crest

Block Number: 61


By Nora Worthen

McDowell Quilt Trail donated a quilt block to Historic Carson House to raffle at its fundraiser at Spring House Farms in the spring of this year.

Sandi Rabb, a member of the Historic Carson House board, and committee chair of the Historic Carson House gift shop won the raffle and chose to use the family crest for the design of the quilt block and call it “John Rabb Family Crest.”

Sandi Rabb, and her late husband John Rabb, created the design of their family crest while on their return flight home after visiting the Heraldic Museum in London in the early 1980s. She explained that during the Medieval times, symbols instead of words were used because in many instances people did not read and write. When a couple married, they would take the wife’s maiden name and the couple’s married name and create a new crest. The crest would then be registered, and Sandi hopes to one day return to London to register “John Rabb Family Crest.”

John and Sandi met in Miami where they had been “donated” by their respective companies, Delta Air Lines and Eastern Air Lines, to work on the Jobs for Vets program. The mayor of Miami County asked for “volunteers” for one week from different industries to gather in a boardroom at the Columbus Hotel in Miami to work the phone banks and contact local businesses to try and get jobs for the returning Viet Nam veterans.

Sandi Shepard Rabb says she is “a genuine Floridian,” having grown up in Ft. Lauderdale. She went to work for Eastern right out of college as a reservation agent and says, “I worked for Eastern for a long time.” At one point, Sandi was head of sales training for Eastern, and eventually traveled with the University of Miami football team on Eastern’s charter flights as the “go-to person” in charge of everything, including making sure the team’s luggage and footballs arrived on time.

After Sandi retired from Eastern, she worked as a consultant and a trainer in management skills for Xerox, based in Atlanta, Georgia, which later became Times Mirror. She and John moved to Marion in approximately 1995.

Upon relocating to Marion, Sandi and John became involved in local projects. Sandi joined the Keep McDowell Beautiful committee, as well as becoming chairperson of the Please Rid Illegal Dumping Entirely (PRIDE) committee for a number of years.

John was born and raised in Marion, the son of Guy Rabb and grandson of J. C. Rabb, who in the mid 1900s owned Rabb Grocery, a major business in downtown Marion on Main Street where The Train Shop is now located. John and Sandi’s home on Major Conley Road in Marion was part of the J. C. Rabb family property in 1937. John grew up on the Lake Tahoma Road property. These two properties were combined, separated by a mountain, and comprised a large farming operation in Pleasant Gardens. One can still see the remnants of the old slaughter pins on the Lake Tahoma Road property.

John earned his degree in aeronautical engineering at N.C. State, joined the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant, and served in Viet Nam, flying the C-141 aerovac aircrafts, which brought home the wounded and the dead. Upon discharge from the Air Force, he joined the military reserves and was hired by Delta Airlines, where he worked for 31 years, advancing to a line check airman, which means he checked out all the captains on certain airplanes. John retired at the age of 64 as a full colonel, and died of prostate cancer shortly thereafter. John is interred in the family cemetery on a hill at the back of the property overlooking the farm.

Upon their return to Marion, John became a gentleman farmer. The land was leased out for others to tend. John joined the Rails to Trails Project, working to develop the old Peavine Rail Line into a walking trail, and later worked with McDowell Trails Association president, Bill Hendley, eventually donating one acre of land for the now newly developed Joseph McDowell Historic Catawba Greenway Project. Sandi says John used to tell her that he spent half his life trying to get away from Marion and the other half trying to get back. “He loved the community and wanted to see Marion grow.”

John Rabb Family Crest contains four symbols that are representative of Sandi and John individually and together and of their loves and interests. The symbol at the top left of the shield is an airplane, which is symbolic of both their careers in the airline industry. Both adored the mountains, which is symbolized in the lower right-hand side of the shield. The dog in the upper right-hand corner represents Sandi’s love of dogs. There are six well-cared for and happy dogs living on her farm, three being rescue dogs. And the last symbol in the lower left-hand field is an eagle, representing John’s rank as full colonel in the U.S. Air Force. The name on the gate entrance to the farm is “Eagles Rest.”

Located to the back of the Major Conley Road property is a pre-Civil War house and an old barn. Sandi says, “We have just recently found out that this was John Carson’s land. He built a house on the land and a barn. This discovery was made in conjunction with attempting to get the house placed on the National Historic Register.”

Sandi says, “I view this farm as a restful, safe place that is still fun, and still a real farm, including chickens and horses. I view my role as the guardian. I’m proud, because my son feels the same way.”

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