Memories of Elton: Guest Blog by Rose Ann Palmer

Rose Ann Palmer and her husband Donnie are members of Ridgecrest Baptist Church, if you’re not a local. The “Elton” to whom Rose Ann is referring is long-time Ridgecrest Church member Elton Earp, who passed away this summer from a long battle with cancer. When I asked Rose Ann to do a guest blog, she immediately responded that she wanted to share some of her memories of Elton in tribute to him.

Elton made Rose Ann and Donnie his official caregivers when he got sick, then made them promise to never put him in an “old folks home.” Which Rose Ann and Donnie did, thus allowing Elton to live out his final days in the comfort of his own home.

The following is an excerpt of what Rose Ann wrote, as she had a LOT of great things to say! I will post other pieces of Elton’s story in the future, so stay tuned!


When I first met Elton back in the early 80’s, his first wife had just died. Our family would sit in the back of the church on the right side and Elton was up front on the right in his seat, on his row. Pastor Carl Garner was our Pastor. I thought Elton was a “mean” man because he “looked” mean and came across as “gruff”. My children were tiny and we were not close to him like we were later on. I can remember when Elton married his second wife, Ida. She was in my mother’s Sunday school class. And I remember seeing him at the church with his dog in his truck…and I got to see him for who he really was…a kind, giving man.

First, he loved Jesus with all his heart and would tell anyone he met. He loved his church, the pastors, the staff. When he could still drive, he would take his dog and get in his old blue pick-up truck and “visit” the church office. The secretary even had treats for his dog in a cabinet near her desk. It was a pleasure for him to buy things for the Pastors whether it was a new suit, breakfast or lunch.

Every fall, he would go to the mountains and bring back country ham and cabbage. Of course, he bought enough to give away to everyone who knew him! And when he went to the Farmer’s Market, you would get peaches, corn, strawberries. Then there was Stone Bros. in Durham where he would get molasses…to share with everyone.

Elton loved our son, Jason, and the friendship they shared. When Jason got married to Charity, Elton was honorary Grandfather at the wedding. Jason would always be late and Elton was amazed that Jason was on time for his wedding to Charity. He always said Charity must have told him the wedding was an hour earlier than it was…He loved them both dearly and we would bring him to our house to Skype with them in Slovakia and he would always cry. He missed them and so wanted to hold their baby girl, Elise.

When Marianne [ Rose Ann and Donnie's daughter] became pregnant he said he was going to take her baby boy to Chick-Fil-A for the men’s breakfast with Donnie on Tuesday mornings (This is something else he did. Every Tuesday at 6:30 Donnie would take him to the men’s breakfast with Shay and others from our church). He was so excited about his “great-grandchildren.” He had no living blood relatives. His first wife, Stella, had nieces and nephews.

Elton had “girlfriends” everywhere! The doctor’s offices, restaurants, even at the Farmer’s Market, he was well-known and he would make the rounds to buy corn from Jeannie, onions and squash from Beth…well , you get the idea. One time I drove him and my mother to the Farmer’s Market and missed the exit. He knew and let me know it real quick. For a man who could not see, he saw more than we could ever imagine. He would tease me and tell people that I go to the Farmer’s Market by way of Garner and anytime I would drive anywhere, he always asked if I knew where I was going or tell me that maybe Donnie should drive…

If you ever talked to Elton on the telephone you know he never liked to hang up. He would say “well I’m going to let you go now” about 5 or 6 times before he actually hung up. He called certain people every night and certain people called him every night and he did not go to bed until he heard from all of them. He loved to talk and tell stories about Durham. In the spring, Donnie would take him to Carolina Avenue where he was born to see the house and the trees in bloom. It looks like you are driving through a cloud when the Bradford pear trees are in bloom. Then on to Guess Road to the first house he and Stella lived in. He had such a great memory! Elton always had a story of days gone by – whether riding in the car and passing a particular place or while just sitting on his carport with his dog and him – he had something to tell you. This is what Donnie misses the most – the conversations.


Thanks for sharing, Rose Ann! Elton was special. . . now he’s in heaven, enjoying Jesus and all the folks who got there before him. We bet he’s probably still telling his stories!

Lookin’ up,





Elton, in foreground, sitting next to Donnie and Rose Ann at a church dinner

Elton, in foreground, sitting next to Donnie and Rose Ann at a church dinner

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  1. Carl Garner says:

    Rose Ann,
    That was a beautiful tribute to our friend, Elton. It’s obvious that you knew him well and loved him as we all did. Even after I moved to S.C he would call me periodically to fill me in on what was going on at Ridgecrest, and tell me about all his “girlfriends.” You’re right. He did not miss much even with his blindness. Thanks for your kindeness to him and for making his last days special. He will be missed, but our loss is heaven’s gain.

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