"Ersie Cordelia Self was born in the fall of 1920. Woodrow Wilson was
President of the United States. The first World War had just ended. And
she was born in the home of William Emery and Mary Eveline Self. She grew
up with four brothers and sisters and a special cousin, Lola.
Ersie attended Mount Zion Baptist Church almost her entire life. There was
one fellow that went there named Willard (Lee). He was friends with Ersie’s
two brothers. One day when Willard was visiting, he was 12 years old and
Ersie was nine, the Selfs were all sitting down at the breakfast. Lee
patted Ersie on the head and said, “One day I’ll marry this one.” 17 years
later at 29 years old, he did just that. They were married on December
21st, 1946. When Willard asked Grandpa Self for 26 year old Ersie’s hand
Grandpa Self said, “Well, I guess she is old enough to do what she
wants…you are just taking my good biscuit maker away from me.”
In a total of 16 years, Ersie and Willard had 9 children, with 8 surviving
childhood. Shirley, Peggy, Lovonda, Ronnie, infant son Randy Lee, Darlene,
Randall, Reece, and Donny.
On October 25, 1982, Ersie said goodbye to her husband. They had been
married for 35 years and 308 days. She was a widow for over 31 years.
Ersie’s heart always belonged to Willard. In fact, it was one of my
favorite past times to tease Granny, and everyone in here knows what a
great sense of humor she had. I teased her about every widower and elderly
bachelor in Vonore. Her mind was made up. Her heart belonged to two
Mamaw Ersie was a blood bought child of God. Not because she once said a
prayer, although she did profess Jesus as her Savior; not because she
attended a church, although she had years of perfect attendance at Mt.
Zion; but you knew that Ersie was saved not by these things, but because
she lived a life that was pure and acceptable unto Him. I John 3:4: We know
that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He
that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Was there a person that has
ever met Mamaw Ersie that was not loved by Mamaw Ersie? Mamaw was also the
embodiment of the fruits of the Spirit, what are these? Love. Joy. Peace.
Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control.
Mamaw was a lot of fun. She never ceased to surprise you. She was 89 years
old when she decided that she wanted to fly on an airplane for the first
time out to Nebraska to visit the Wilkersons--my sister and her family. So,
I was in charge with finding out how to get Mamaw her very first picture
ID. To get a picture ID, I needed a birth certificate, Mamaw had lost hers
years ago. So, we had to get her a new one. I spent at least three weeks
trying to find records of her and finally we got ahold of someone in
Nashville, and they looked through their computers and said we don’t have
anyone named Ersie Self ever having been born in Tennessee in 1920.
Frustrated, mom and I went to Mamaw Ersie and said, “Mamaw, there is no
record of an Ersie Self ever having been born!" She looked at us
nonchalantly and said, “Well, probably because that is not my name.” My
mother said, “What do you mean, mama!?” She said, “I was born Ersa, not
Ersie. I bet they’ll find me now.” Sure enough, we easily found her under
that name. Mom said, “Mom. Why has your legal name always been Ersie? It is
on your Social Security card and everything.” Mamaw just said, “Well, when
I was about 9, I just decided that I did not like the name Ersa and so I
have been Ersie ever since.” I get to now tease my momma that she was in
her 60s before she found out her mother’s name.
So eventually, we got Ersie on that plane. She was always up for an
adventure. Always up to go to Wal-Mart, to sit and visit with friends, to
go to a Revival meeting. She never met a stranger.
Mamaw Ersie lived on this Earth for 92 years, 361 days. She had 22
grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren. She has been cared for non-stop
by her daughters who for the past 2 years have cared for Mamaw Ersie hand
and foot. Almost all of her sons were also there daily, especially
Randall, who was a valuable help to the daughters. Ronnie, Reece, and
Mamaw's nephew JL would also take turns pushing Mamaw around Vonore in her
wheelchair. It was one of her favorite things to do. Thank you all for
sacrificing for her in this way. God is well pleased with all of you
Right when she was starting to go downhill, she pulled many of us by her
bedside and told us that she believed that God had given her a dream. She
said she dreamt that she died and she looked up and saw Jesus walking with
Willard and a small boy—their son, Randy Lee. They looked so happy. I
believe that this was God giving her a promise. Through the pain that Mamaw
endured in her later months, it is not worth comparing to the glory that is
being revealed unto her now. There is no doubt in my mind that our little
Mamaw is pain free. Reunited with her family-- her mother, father, Lawson,
Bill, Bessie, Lucy, and Lola, and of course Willard and Randy. There is
also no doubt in my mind, that our little Mamaw has touched the face of her
Creator, the one who made her, redeemed her, and prepared a place for her."
This eulogy was written for Ersie Self Cooper by Ersie's grandson, Kevin Fowler. The eulogy was read by Kevin at the funeral. It was also read at the 28th annual Self Family Reunion on September 28 at Pearson Springs Park in Maryville, TN by Rev. Tommy Self, Ersie's nephew.
Go to the website eye2sky.com to hear a song that was written and sung by Ersie's grandson, Micah Cooper, in honor of Ersie. Micah wrote the song the morning Ersie died and he sang it at her funeral. It is titled "Ersie's Song".