The Lord called one of his Earthly Angels home last Sunday. After a lifetime of love and service to her family, church and community, Edna Hilton passed away Sunday, April 18, 2021 at Carolina Caring Catawba Valley Hospice House.
Born March 5th, 1942 she was the daughter of the late Beeler and Pauline Leonhardt. In a family of tenant farmers in Vale NC, she was picking cotton and baking biscuits by age 5. Her dad Beeler always said that she couldn’t chew gum and pick cotton at the same time. He was right. She may have grown up poor in wealth, but she was always rich in Faith and Love. True wealth that matters. Throughout her life she was generous with that immense wealth. She was living proof that Faith flourishes when shared, and that Love grows when given away. Her lifetime of Faith-full service was seen in her many activities at Ebenezer Church in Vale, NC (growing up) and Bethel Church in Mountain View, NC (all her adult life).
Edna’s boundless Love is amplified through her large family. She is survived by her husband Don Hilton, son Larry Dickinson and Girlfriend Betsy, daughter Paula Gettys and husband Ryan, stepson Don Hilton Jr. and wife Jennifer, stepdaughters Stefanie Reinhardt and husband James, Shelly Church and husband Robert, and Melanie Hendrix and husband Larry, brothers Billie Leonhardt (Wanda), Dean Leonhardt (Cheryl), and Jearld Leonhardt (Carolyn); 11 grandchildren, Heather, Sara, Rachel, Amanda, Alex, Andrew, Bryson, Stefan, Maggie, Dakota, and Austin; 11 great grandchildren Scarlett, Lucy, Silas, Noah, Trent, Blake, Natalie, Josh, Katie, Lexie, and Grahm; and a large number of nieces and nephews.
In addition to all-important titles such as Wife, Mother, Sister, Grandmother; she also served in many roles throughout her professional career. While having different titles like marketing assistant, bookkeeper, administrative assistant and receptionist, she most always served as the smiling face greeting the public, the friendly resource assuaging complaining customers and a driving force that helped the internal workings of a company just work better.
Well before her professional career started, her leadership by service and example was evident in her education. She was Valedictorian of her graduating class at Catawba Valley Technical Institute (now CVCC), earning an Associates Degree, and Salutatorian for the 1959 graduating class of Fred T. Foard High School. Edna’s service and example started before she was even eligible to start school. On his first day of school at Banoak Elementary her older brother Billie came home insisting that he would not go back unless his little sister Edna could go with him. Beeler and Pauline had to appeal to the school board. Edna started school a full year early.
With her scholastic success being but one instance, Edna continued to set the example by living a “life of kindness” always serving others. Banishing her child to the couch to bring a sick friend into her home to care for them for weeks at a time, visiting shut-ins, talking to strangers at the hospital, volunteering for hospice and simply serving as “the glue that kept her and her brothers so close long after losing their parents,” are but a few more examples of The Example she set.
A long time member and supporter of the Arbor Day Foundation, Edna loved trees as well as gospel music, gardening, reading, cooking and generally helping others. She will be sorely missed by her family and friends, both those friends she knew and the ones she had yet to make.
To continue her Example and Serve others Faith-fully during these times in this tragic pandemic, a private funeral service will be livestreamed from 4-5pm on Wednesday, April 21 st .
(https://bethelchurchhickory.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/bethelchurchhickory). The memorial service will be followed by an informal receiving of friends and wider family from 5:00pm-7:00pm outdoors. Both events will be at Bethel Evangelical and Reformed Church (4547 Bethel Church Rd.
Hickory, NC 28602.)
Arrangements will be handled by Jenkins Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Newton 828-464- 1555. Please sign the online guestbook, read this extended obituary and find further information at www.jenkinsfuneralhome.net.
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