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.
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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 email@example.com
• Jim Crawford 919-349-2429 firstname.lastname@example.org
• Mike Handley 919-218-7795 email@example.com
Donations can also be sent directly to Michael Handley, 7004 Sandy Pines Drive, Youngsville, NC 27596-9126.