Mary Magdelene Milton Elder of Bowie, Maryland peacefully joined her Lord and Savior on February 23, 2023 at the age of 97.
Mary was born December 20, 1925 in Colliers, West Virginia to the late Henry and Pauline Harris Milton. Following the death of her Mother, Mary was two years old, and her baby brother Clarence “Buddy” Milton joined the extended family of her mother’s two sisters Littie Harris Beasley, and Mattie Harris Mitchell who with their brothers James and Oakley Harris raised her in McKeesport/Clariton PA area. She met and married her beloved W. Harvey Elder and established roots in the Village of Westland, PA. Their union created three children, Mary Katherin Elder, Walter H. Elder Jr., and Gary F. Elder.
Mary accepted Christ as her personal savior at a young age. As a devout Christian, she spent her life honoring and worshipping God, staying faithful to the Word knowing that in her passing she would be going home with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As a person who touched the lives of so many people, she was known by many names: Mummie, Mum, Aunt Mary, Gram, Granny, Na-Na, Sister Elder, Miss Mary, she responded to them all with the same warm smile, listening ear, and hearty laughter always providing some humble pearls of wisdom to live by. Mary worked at the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) plant, Meadowlands, PA on an assembly line installing circuit boards in electronics. While only completed the 9th grade, in 1972 at the age of 59 years old, Mary scored so high on the competency exam to attend the GED program that she was granted her GED on the spot without having to take the class. Her GED would serve as the spring board for further educational pursuits. She ended her 20 plus year career when the RCA plant closed operations in 1984. The employees were given an opportunity to be retrained in a field of their choice. Mary attended Penn Commercial Business School and earned an Associate’s Degree in Accounting at the age of 60 in March 1986.
Mary’s heart for service has always been at the center of her life. She was known for her delicious sweet potato pies and for canning vegetables from Harv’s garden sharing their harvest with the community. She routinely opened her home to family and friends who needed some tender loving care and a break from life’s challenges. A very competitive game player, she enjoyed teaching and winning at canasta, bridge, bid whist, pinochle, euchre, scrabble, and boggle.
Rural life in the Village of Westland and its small company store, post office, two churches and two beer gardens required a car to get to schools, grocery stores, shopping malls, doctor’s appointments, and to conduct the regular business of life, Mary would put on one of her many colored coordinated caps and pick up friends and family who also needed a ride “down the road” to run their errands. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Westland, PA for more than forty years serving as Church Treasurer, member of the Choir, Women’s Missions and Kitchen ministries. She prepared many fried chicken and string bean dinners following afternoon service and tipped out of sunrise service a little early to put on her apron and finish up the mouthwatering hearty breakfast of bacon, potatoes, grits and biscuits. She enjoyed reading and studying the bible, knitting, crocheting, and sewing. Many folks are keeping warm today with an afghan blanket or hat that she made.
Following her husband’s death in April of 2000 she moved to Germantown, Maryland to be close to her adult children and their families. Within a few years she moved in with her granddaughter Irie, her husband Linton and great granddaughter Kamar in Bowie, MD along with three of her great grandchildren Brandon, Shannan, and Angela who loving called her Mum. Once settled in, she quickly found and led her family to the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Laurel Md. Adding to her forty years of ministry service, Sister Elder served on the Women’s Service Ministry, regularly attended bible study, prayer breakfasts, annual retreats, and small group home ministry. She was grateful that the Lord directed her path to the little church by the side of the road where she continued to grow in her faith, share testimonies about the goodness of God in her life, and love on her church family for eighteen years. Mary also shared the goodness of God with friends at the Bowie Senior Center reviving her competitive spirit participating in bid whist, spades, bridge and scrabble games.
Her light shined bright in good times and during challenging times she pressed through with prayer and the faith in God that everything would be alright showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Well into her late eighties she would kneel at her beside praying to God at the start and end of each day. Everyone who knew Mary, while missing her beautiful smile, spirit, and that lovely white hair rests easy knowing that she finally made it home.
Left to continue her legacy of love and service, Mary is survived by:
Children: Mary K Elder White; Gary F. Elder (Kathy Mackey)
Grandchildren; Irie Clarke (Linton); Cynthia White; Andrea Shearin (Tyrone); Byron Elder; Erica Elder; Glenda Gaither; Lathan Elder; Christine Elder; and Monica Butler
Great Grandchildren: Kendall Conkey (Brittany); Christopher Elder; Brandon Cook; Randy Brownfield; Shannan Cook; Angela Gaither; Quadysha Oakley; Chade’ Elder; Ledaya Oakley; Kamar Clarke; Marquis Yaros; Lathan Elder; Lamont Cesar; and Jayden Ellis
Great-Great Grandchildren: Shayla Hall and Zaire Chase
Mary treasured her family including first cousins Johnny and Jimmy Mitchell, of West Mifflin, PA and second cousin Chummy Chandler Davis of Canonsburg, PA. Her lineage continues with ten nieces, five nephews, twelve great nieces, seven great nephews, six great-great nieces and four great-great nephews and an immeasurable number of very dear friends whom she loved and mentored throughout her lifetime.