Our precious mother, grandma, great-grandmother, aunt, cousin and friend left her earthly home Dec. 12, 2014, at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan, Iowa.
Odiva Jean Little Elder Ethridge was born in Cameron, Texas Dec. 3, 1927 to Grady and Oma (Weems) Little. That remained her home until her marriage to Frank Elder of Salina, Kan., in 1945. He preceded her in death in 1976. To this union six children were born.
For most of their married life they resided in rural Saline County, Kan., where they farmed. Jean, as she was known, worked at Salina’s First United Methodist Church for 38 years as a church hostess. She was a dedicated 4-H club leader, a Sunday School teacher, a charter member of Salina TOPS club, the Peacemakers SS Class, a lifetime member of the VFW, Federated Women, (OES) and United Methodist Women Altar Society.
She married Eugene Ethridge in 1980 in Salina, Kan., who also preceded her death in 1994.
Jean loved all sports and was an avid KU, K-State and Dallas Cowboys fan. Jean loved music of all kinds from country to opera. She loved a good story and laughed with her whole being. She loved her family and gave them her all, often going without so they could have. She often worked day and night to keep food on the table and clothing. She made the best angel food cake in the world and was a genius at telling scary Halloween stories. She made homemade butter, clothes, ice-cream, and shared with anyone who was in need.
She welcomed everyone into her home, regardless of background, ethnicity or spiritual persuasion. You never knew who would be sleeping on a pallet in the front room in the morning, or how many new faces with whom you would share the holiday table. She loved with passion and true commitment. She loved without regard to others’ worth and ability to love back.
She was a confidante and friend to an endless number of United Methodist Youth Fellowship kids at the church who ate her cooking and called her “friend.”
In addition to the deaths of her two husbands, she lost two sons, Grady in 2008 and Lyle in 2010.
Survivors include her children, Faye (Elder) and husband Marvin Clements of La Cygne, Kan.; Carol (Elder) and husband Richard Doran Jr. of Harlan, Iowa, Paula Lynn (Elder) and husband Clayton Anderson of Birch Tree, Mo., Bryan Elder and wife Pam of Yukon, Okla.; daughter-in-law Linda Elder of La Cygne, Kan.; 16 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; cousins; extended family and friends.
She touched everyone she met; she continues to give to others in death. At a future date, a memorial service will be held in Harlan, Iowa where she resided for the last nine years of her life. Burial will be in Bennington, Kan., next to Frank.
Donations may be made to the Saline County, Kansas 4-H Foundation, gifts to be used for scholarships to 4-H Camp in Rock Springs, Kan.
Michael P. Jones
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