Obituary for Elsie B. Jefferson
Elsie B. (Brubaker) Jefferson died October 21, 2017, at the age of 94. Born January 13, 1923 in Synder Co. PA, she was the eighth of nine children of Michael B. Brubaker and Catherine (Katie) O. (Lauver) Brubaker. She was raised on a small farm near Port Trevorton, PA, and attended a one-room school through the eighth grade. Her mother died during the Great Depression when she was 9. Elsie graduated from Selinsgrove High school in 1942, with the country at war. Many of her siblings were involved in the war effort and Elsie was the last child at home with her father. She cared for the house and worked in a rayon mill in Port Trevorton until she left to attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, VA. Elsie graduated from VPI where she met and in 1947, married William Emmett (Jeff) Jefferson Jr. of Roanoke, VA. At VPI, Elsie and Jeff were members of a spelunking group and explored local caves. The couple moved to Oak Ridge, TN, where their first child was born and Jeff obtained his M.S. degree in Microbiology. From there the couple moved to Austin, TX, where two more children were born and Jeff earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology. In Austin they were active with a Unitarian Fellowship Group that helped to establish an integrated nursery school where Elsie enjoyed working with the children and their families. The couple moved to Memphis in 1955. Two additional children were born in Memphis and the couple raised their five children in the Frayser area. Dr. Jefferson taught biochemistry at the University Of Tennessee Health Science Center for 34 years until his death in 1989.
Elsie earned a second BA in Education in 1968 from Memphis State University. She taught at Georgian Hills, Craigmont and Raleigh Egypt elementary schools. She enjoyed working with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders as they were old enough to participate in discussions. Following her retirement in 1985, Elsie continued to serve as a substitute teacher for many years. She worked with the City School System’s Mentoring Program into her 80s.
The family was active in the First Unitarian Church of Memphis, where Elsie was a longtime member of the Women’s Alliance. Elsie enjoyed attending book clubs and the Lunch and Learn Series operated by Rhodes College. She loved growing vegetables, playing bridge, reading, reciting poetry, and following politics. With the help of her children, she continued to work crossword puzzles through the last day of her life.
She was an active member of First Unitarian Church of the River, the Faculty Wives and Women of Memphis, and the League of Women Voters and worked with the Shelby County Interfaith Organization.
She is survived by her 5 children: William Emmett Jefferson III of Roanoke VA, Mary Margaret Jefferson (Ed Thomas) of Memphis, Kathryn (Tom) Miller, Rebecca (Ronnie) Campbell, and Elsie (George) Rodgers all of Millington, TN , 5 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, 2 step-grandchildren, 8 step-great-grandchildren and by brothers-in-law Joseph Jefferson of Kingsport, TN, and Charlie Walker of Moneta, VA. Also surviving are many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 42 years William Emmett Jefferson Jr., and her 8 siblings and their spouses, Russell (Edna) Brubaker and Blanche (Ben) Keener, Stella (Andy) Schott, Mildred (Harold) Sheldon, Earl (Letha) Brubaker, Helen (Louis) Bourque, Nora (Charles) Francis, and Miles (Margaret) Brubaker, and siblings-in-law Doris Jefferson, Carl Moulds, Bill and Lou Howard, and Elizabeth Walker.
Services will be at Forest Hill East, Saturday, October 28, with visitation at 11 am followed by a memorial service at noon.
The family requests that memorial donations be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.