Food Culinary 08

       


Eloise Rodgers Waterhouse

October 27, 1921 ~ February 26, 2019 (age 97)

Mamie Eloise Rodgers was born on a warm Thursday, 27 October 1921, at home in Avera, Georgia.  Being the first born, it was her job to initiate her parents, George Lloyd and Lucille Rodgers, in parenthood.  Eloise never liked the name “Mamie”, and always insisted being called “Eloise”.

Eloise learned good principles from her family and applied those principles later in life.  She credited her loving parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts for teaching her to love her family and her Lord, to strive for what was important, and to appreciate what she had.

Her niece Valerie McNair says that Eloise knew the importance of each day with family and she looked at life with the utmost gratitude and seriousness.  Valerie recalls a time her mother and Eloise had gone shopping.  As Aunt Eloise showed Valerie the new wardrobe, she said, “Now Val, this day will never happen again and I’m so grateful for it”.

From Lloyd, Eloise inherited frugality which served her well as she managed the limited finances of a pastor’s wife in the 1960s.  Son Woody remembers, “Mother kept envelopes for each budget item on the top of the piano.  When an envelope was empty, there was no more for the rest of the month”.

Lucille taught Eloise to love the beauty of nature.  Daughter Lisa Massey recalls, “Mother’s love of arranging flowers came from her mother.  She loved to bring a splash of nature to church each Sunday with a custom floral arrangement.  Many Saturdays she and I would scout out wild flowers in the countryside or visit a member’s yard to get some cut flowers.  Her arrangements were always the talk of the church each week”.  Daughter-in-law Helen adds, “She always had a knack for decorating her home” during each season of the year.

Eloise learned the importance of good food, its preparation and health-giving qualities from her grandmother.  Later, Eloise chose dietetics as a profession because as she often said, “It satisfied my intellectual curiosity, helped my family be health, and was a good career choice for a woman in the 1940s.

Being a professional dietician was a big part of her life.  She excelled in school and progressed through her beloved profession.  She was rightfully proud of the program she set up at the New Britain Hospital for cardiac patients.  Son-in-law Charles Massey said, “People often sought her advice or help when they needed help with their diet”.  In October 1993, Eloise was recognized by the American Dietetic Association for celebrating 50 continuous years as an ADA member.  Indeed, she was one of the original members of the ADA.  She kept up her membership with the ADA and kept up with the latest dietetic developments in her professional journal.  Over the years, she enjoyed sharing articles from her journals with her family.

 

After she married seminary student Norwood Waterhouse{“I’ll never marry a preacher”, Eloise vowed.) and had Woody, Deb and Lisa, Eloise put professional dietetics aside to serve her family at home and her Lord at church.  Daughter Deb Davis says, “She was always kind and thinking of others”, and as a pastor’s wife, “She always had a knack for making guests feel welcome”.  And daughter-in-law Helen recalls, “ She was effortlessly gracious to people.  She was always good at listening”.  She never sought the limelight, and as Deb put it, “She was not comfortable receiving compliments”.

In 1966, the family moved to New England, where Norwood began work as a church starter with the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board.  In addition to caring for three teenage children and helping her husband in the mission field, Eloise returned to work as a dietician at a local hospital.  And she and Norwood started numerous churches in Western Connecticut, becoming the subjects of a book written to inspire young readers to become missionaries.  Those were busy years for Eloise.

She was extraordinarily organized.  As Deb says, “I never saw her without a small spiral-top notebook and yellow mechanical pencil”.  She put these skills to great use in church.  Charles recalls that, “Eloise was always good at teaching Training Union”.  As Woody remembers, “When she would teach a Training Union class or lead a WMU meeting she’d really get into it, and enjoy the challenge, researching with the fervor and acumen of the scientist she was and producing maps, flip charts, tables and handouts, all this before and without computers”.

As their retirement approached, Eloise and her husband explored where to live their next phase of life.  They settled on a beautiful 40 acres (more or less”) in northeast Vermont.  In the years prior to their move, they transported a carriage house from Connecticut to Vermont and transformed it into a chalet.  This cozy chalet was the site of many church retreats and social gatherings where Eloise’s gift of hospitality shone.

When the deep winter snows of Vermont became more difficult, Eloise and Norwood traded the mountains of Sheffield, Vermont for the mountains of Hiawassee, Georgia.  Besides setting up a new home, Eloise resurrected her role as pastor’s wife when she and Norwood assisted churches that were between pastors.  She also added genealogical author to her resume, writing and publishing biographies of her father and mother.

She expressed her love for her family in very specific ways.  Niece Lynne McCorkle said, “The one thing that stands out to me was how your Mother and Dad always looked at each other with so much love!  You could see it in their eyes”!

Woody, Deb and Lisa remember Eloise’s practical love in the 4-ounce (Four ounces provides all the Vitamin C you need.  No more because that’s too much sugar”, insisted Eloise.)  glass of orange juice every morning, or the beautiful dresses for Deb and Lisa at Easter.  There were also the unpleasant but needed switchings (Woody, go get a switch, but not too small”) that Eloise administered because their father didn’t.

There was also a lighter, funnier side to Eloise.  Her son-in-law Julian Davis could always draw out giggles from “Miss Ellie” as he called her.  Lisa also got “Ellie” to laugh when she would imitate her mother folding her arms, while holding her chin and gently twisting back and forth.

To outsiders, Eloise looked only prim and proper, but Deb remembers her mother getting giggly after drinking some wine at a family dinner.  And Eloise herself wrote a very funny story about the time she took a shower with her parrot Cricket looking on.  We still laugh about that story. 

Eloise also had her own way of expressing things.  Charles reminds us that she called curvaceous roads “pig trails”, saying that to drive from LaGrange. Georgia to Dearing, Georgia, she went from the “belly button of the state” to get to its “backbone”.

In 2006, five years after Norwood’s death, Eloise moved to LaGrange, Georgia, to be close to Deb.  A year later, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, beginning the biggest challenge of her life.  She faced that challenge head on, just as she had with the many other challenges during her lifetime: with intelligence, determination, humility, creativity, organization, originality and love.

Eloise passed away on Tuesday, February 26, 2019, at home in Birmingham, Alabama, surrounded by people she loved and who loved her.  She leaves behind her three children, Woody, Deborah, Lisa and their spouses, her brother Billy Rodgers, owner of Hillcrest Farms in Dearing, and her sister Joyce Luckey in Augusta.

We will miss this elegant Georgia peach who remains in our minds and memories as Intelligent; Determined; Loving; Humble; Creative; Organized.  She is indeed in a better place.  Eloise, you gave us so much!

Graveside services will be held at 1:30 PM, Friday, March 1, 2019 in the Dearing United Methodist Church Cemetery. 

Curtis Funeral Home is in charge of local arrangements.

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