Esther Mae (Kleppelid) Jernigan, 88, died Nov. 13, 2013, at Carolinas Hospital in Florence, S.C.
Born in Circle, Mont., on March 25, 1925, to Albert and Rosemond (Palmerton) Kleppelid, she grew up in McCone County, Mont. She graduated from high school in Circle, and attended nursing school in Great Falls. While on a layover in Great Falls, as he hopped aircraft on his way to his hometown of Louisville, Miss., World War II Navy seaman Edwin Jernigan met and fell in love with Esther. When the war was over, she and Edwin married. They raised their two sons, Gary and Robert, while living in and near Nashua and Glasgow
She and her family moved to Columbus, Miss., in the late 1960s, where she continued her nursing career at The University of Mississippi for Women in Columbus as an infirmary nurse. After retirement, she volunteered at the food bank hosted within the First Assembly of God Church in Columbus. In 1995, she moved to Wilmington, N.C., to be closer to her granddaughter, Michele, and son Robert. She volunteered at the Wilmington Senior Center with the Meals-on-Wheels program. Elderhaus recognized and honored her with their Unsung Hero Award in 2001 for her dedication and service to senior citizens.
She was a devoted Christian. She was very active in the Assembly of God churches while in Glasgow and Columbus, where she sang in the choir, taught elementary Sunday School, and served as the president of the Women's Auxiliary for years. At Pine Valley Church of God in Wilmington, N.C., she enjoyed serving as a greeter.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Edwin Jernigan, of Columbus; a younger brother, Wilber Kleppelid of Weldon, Mont., and one older brother, Wayne Kleppelid, of Circle.
Survivors include a younger brother, Donald Kleppelid, and his wife, Dorothy; one sister-in-law, Jean Kleppelid, all of whom reside in Circle; two sons, Gary Jernigan of Hartsville, S.C., and Robert "Bob" Jernigan of Wilmington; one daughter-in-law, Jennie Jernigan; six grandchildren, Robbie, Jeff, Chris, Michele, Katelyn and Jonathan Jernigan; two step-grandchildren, Lisa and Daniel Brown; four great-grandchildren, Jordan, Casey, Trinity and Gage; and many nephews and nieces.
Those who knew and loved Esther are invited to make a special donation to the Church of their choice in her honor. We take comfort in knowing she is resting in the arms of her Savior, Lord Jesus.