Eloise Wilson passed away on September 18, 2020, at the age of 102. She was born November 27, 1917, in the Red Hill community of Elmore County and was the daughter of Capers Spencer Melton and Lespers Lurline Mullins Melton.
At the time of her birth, her parents were schoolteachers and she traveled with them in a horse-drawn buggy to their schools. She later journeyed with her parents to Cumberland Law School where both her parents graduated with law degrees in 1922. After living in Dadeville, the family moved to Tallassee where Eloise graduated from Tallassee High School in 1936. During her teenage years she worked in her parents’ law office and clerked at the dime store.
Eloise became inspired to become a social worker as a senior in high school as she interacted with a teacher whose sister worked in New York with Jane Addams, one of the pioneers in the field of social work. She attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) before transferring to the University of Alabama to get the necessary field work to finish her degree in Social Work, graduating in 1939. She later did graduate study in social work at Tulane University. Her graduation from the University of Alabama was teasingly referred to as a “family secret” over the years as she and her family attended all Auburn home games for many years.
Eloise began working for the Department of Public Welfare in 1939 in the then new courthouse in Wetumpka, earning $90 a month. She bought her first car the same week as it was required for the job and learned to drive as she traveled the dirt roads of Elmore County visiting people and their children who needed assistance. In 1941 she met James Avery Wilson at a boarding house in Wetumpka where many young office workers gathered for lunch. He was called to active duty in 1942 and they were married in 1943 on their way to his station at Norfolk, VA. Later they traveled to an assignment in Spokane, WA, before he was sent overseas to Italy and she returned to Wetumpka.
She continued to work as a child welfare caseworker for the county until her children were born. She returned to work part-time while her children were in school, eventually becoming a full time worker again. Eloise was responsible for many adoptions and placement of children in safe foster family situations during her many years working in Elmore County. She eventually served as Director of the Elmore County Department of Pensions and Security before retiring. Throughout her active life she was a member of the First Baptist Church of Wetumpka and taught numerous Sunday School and WMU classes at the church as well as directing the Christmas play. She had fond memories of the family and friends attending the Baptist World Convention in Miami.
Eloise enjoyed gardening, family visits, and family history during her retirement. She learned to use the computer and wrote many short stories about her childhood and life in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband as well as her sister, Myra Provo, and nieces Kathy, Natalie, and Lora. Survivors include her children: James Robert Wilson (Paula), Auburn, and Linda Ann Wilson (Gil Jennings), Hope Hull. She is also survived by two grandsons: Nathaniel Spencer Wilson, Santa Barbara, CA, and Jonathan Andrew Wilson, Durham, NC, as well as a niece, Beth Shirley, Tallahassee, FL, and nephew, John Provo, Pensacola, FL, and many cousins in the Kent-Red Hill-Tallassee area of Elmore County.
Special thanks to her caregivers, Paula Kinsella and Dora Eggert and to the members of First Baptist Church and First Methodist Church who assisted with meals and other help over the past several years. Because of the pandemic, there will be only a graveside service on Tuesday, September 22, at Memorial Park Cemetery in Auburn. In lieu of flowers please make donations to either the First Baptist Church or the First Methodist Church of Wetumpka.