Salena Handley

Salena Alexandra Handley (Zapetis)

Thursday, June 6th, 1974 - Saturday, February 6th, 2021
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On Saturday, February 6, 2021, Salena Alexandra Handley, loving wife and mother, passed away at the age of 46. Salena was preceded in death by her mother, Debra. She is survived by her husband Mike, two children, Graham and Lexi, her father Ernie, her brother and several extended family members.

Salena was born on June 6, 1974 in Hialeah, Florida to Debra (Hunt) and Ernest Zapetis III. She was raised deep in the mountains of North Carolina in Cowee and Franklin. She graduated from Franklin High School and attended Western Carolina University and then later East Carolina University. She ran off and married Mike in the back of a feed store in Sevierville, Tennessee on November 27, 1993 and then married him again a month later in the Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Franklin, North Carolina on December 27, 1993. She always claimed she deserved two anniversaries and as most things go, she was always right. Mike and Salena moved to Raleigh when he took a job with the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency. Salena quit school to stay at home and raise their children, Graham and Lexi. Salena worked for the Wake Forest United Methodist Church in the nursery for 12 years. She headed up the Mothers Mornings Out Program and was a member of the Playground Committee for the church.

Salena loved taking care of children, hers and others. Nothing would put a smile on her face faster than holding a baby. She had an incredible loving and selfless personality that always put others before herself without seeking any acknowledgement or recognition for her many acts of loving kindness. She was as brilliant as she was beautiful. She was a firm believer in being honest in her words and her actions. If you ever found yourself in an argument with her, you often found yourself at the mercy of her quick wit and passionate temper. However, after the argument you would also find yourself embraced by a tearful, warm, loving hug. She loved her tall foggy mountains as much as her time on the beach. Whenever a large rolling thunder storm came through you could find her sitting on the porch and listening to the rain. The sound of a heavy rain made her happy. She was a wonderful wife and mother who loved her children and all of her family beyond all measure.

We will certainly plan a celebration of life service at some time in the future when it is safe to gather at a time and place to be determined. Salena had many causes she championed, the woman was the patron saint of many worthy causes in this world. However, none more than her children. Salena quit college to stay home and care for them and always wanted them to get a good college education. It was certainly her largest and most pressing concern. She was still in the midst of paying off her college debt and promised not to burden her children with that same issue. To that end, in remembrance of Salena, any donations for Graham’s and Lexi’s college education is most certainly appreciated and checks can be sent directly to their College Foundation of North Carolina 529 Plan. If interested in donating, please contact one of the following (email is preferable). We can give you the account information and instructions.

• Sonia Joyner 919-302-7555
• Jim Crawford 919-349-2429
• Mike Handley 919-218-7795

Donations can also be sent directly to Michael Handley, 7004 Sandy Pines Drive, Youngsville, NC 27596-9126.
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Private Condolence
Plant a Tree in Memory of Salena
5 trees have been planted in memory of Salena Alexandra Handley (Zapetis)

James & Christine Zapetis

Posted at 11:06pm
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

3 trees were planted in the memory of Salena Handley

Plant a tree

James Zapetis Posted at 06:29am

For a cousin I didn't get a chance to meet in person. Jim

Kelly Pritchard

Posted at 12:26pm
Dear Mike,
I was notified through your PHRANC family regarding this terrible news. While I didn’t get the pleasure of meeting your beautiful wife at the conferences, I did get to know you and got a full sense of her warm and loving being in that beautiful tribute. What a gift to have known a love like this in a devoted wife and mother. Sending you heartfelt prayers, wishes for peace and so much healing during this time as you work toward a new normal you never wanted. Your children are so lucky to have you as their father to guide them toward the life Selena wanted for them. Hang in.
Kelly Pritchard
( former NCCDA/PHRANC conference Asst.)

Amy Gardner

Posted at 07:38pm
A while ago, Salena sent me some pictures she had found of us when we were younger. She laughed heartily after viewing the photos about how “80’s” we obviously were in those days. Big hair. Loud clothes. Posing like teen girls who owned the world... and adamant that some of those things we did ... we would never let our teens do!

She adored Graham and Lexi. In the few times we spent catching up, the kids always ‘took the lead’ in her updates. And, back when I heard she married Mike through the small town grapevine, she just threw back her head and said, “I just know.” And that, was IT. End of story.

She was so loved and she smiled at life the same way her mother did. I am grateful she was a small part of my raisin’. And, the entire family will be on my heart as you navigate this tragic circumstance.

David Francis

Posted at 05:05pm
Mike and family, the staff of Sandhills Community Action Program (David, Nina, and Karen) offer our prayers on your behalf and will keep the hopes and wishes of Salena that she had toward you and your children in our prayers to the end that they may still come true as much as possible..

Michael Eugene Kepley

Posted at 03:55pm
My deepest condolences for your loss. May the love of family and friends help you and the children through this.

Michael Kepley

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