|These words from the second book of Timothy best sum up the life and heart of this gentle giant of a man – my “Yankee” preacher:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:7
Gary Lee Elliott was born March 20, 1940, in Elmhurst, Illinois, to Gladys Mary and Grant Norris Elliott. The family spent his growing-up years in Wheaton, Illinois. He attended St. Michael’s parochial school, graduating in 1954. During these formative years he served as an altar boy and considered the priesthood.
After entering Wheaton Community High School, he began his hobby in Ham Radio – a hobby he enjoyed for over forty years. In the last decade of his life, Gary published several technical articles in Ham Radio magazines and journals, detailing his expertise in antennae design.
Gary graduated from high school in 1958, worked in television and radio repair, then entered the United States Air Force in 1962. He served his country with pride and great responsibility. He was trained as an aircraft environmental systems technician – his “cover” for his involvement in covert intelligence. This intelligence work as a member of the elite Air Commandos took him all over the world and included him in many international events of 20th century politics.
While stationed at England Air Force Base, Gary began attending First UMC Alexandria. He then became engaged to Anne Moore Kittrell of Pineville, and formerly of Jena. On Palm Sunday, 1968, Gary joined Pineville’s First UMC while attending church with his bride-to-be. They were married June 21, 1968. Eighty years later Gary entered the candidacy program for ordained ministry from this church. At his memorial service the current pastor of Pineville, Rev. J. Roddy Taylor, read the Gospel lesson, John 14—scripture which had been a lifeline and source of comfort and guidance through the years of Gary’s studying for the ministry. In doing so, J. Roddy represented not only this pivotal congregation in Gary’s career, but the church of Anne’s childhood.
While stationed in Athens, Greece, T/Sgt. & Mrs. Gary Lee Elliott proudly welcomed home their son, Jason Andrew, age thirteen months, on April 25, 1972. After leaving the mili-tary and returning to Louisiana, they welcomed their daughter, Megan Kay, nine days old, on Valentine’s Day, 1975.
Gary graduated from Centenary College, Shreveport, in May 1980. He received his M. Div. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in May 1984. He was ordained by the late Bishop J. Kenneth Shamblin as a Deacon in the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in June 1982. Gary faithfully served these churches until his untimely disability in 1992: Ball, Clear Creek and Springhill; Loranger and Cooper’s Chapel; Glenmora, Fellowship, Forest Hill and Melder; Carpenter’s Chapel; and Epps, Pioneer and Old Floyd United Methodist Churches. Rev. Elliott joined the church Victorious and Triumphant June 15, 1998, at his home in Delhi, Louisiana.
Rev. Robert Burgess, Gary’s friend and one of his mentors, introduced Gary to the transplant surgeon who ultimately performed his heart transplant September 25, 1994. It was only fitting that Bob lead the service of praise and thanksgiving held June 18, 1998, in the Delhi UMC, celebrating Gary’s life and ministry. Rev. William Peeples, another friend and mentor, along with Gary’s then District Superintendent, Rev. J. Philip Woodland, had already lead a service of healing and thanksgiving at the time of Gary’s disability in 1992. His earthly body was donated to the LSU Medical School in Shreveport for transplantation research.
Gary is survived by his wife of thirty years and partner in ministry, Anne Moore Kittrell Elliott; one son, Jason Andrew Elliott of Winnsboro; one daughter, Megan Kay Elliott Wilson of Monroe; a grandson, Hunter Lee Wilson of Monroe; and one brother, Philip Paul Elliott of Del Ray Beach, Florida. His extended family includes numerous cousins, nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces.
The extra time here on earth afforded by the heart transplant further strengthened the Elliott family’s faith in Almighty God and His amazing grace which surrounds us all, if we but reach out and wrap ourselves in it. Praise God for His mercy and majesty as He continues to care for His children!
The family of Rev. Gary Lee Elliott wishes to thank the members of our Louisiana Annual Conference for their love, support, and powerful prayers all these years we have walked through the “valley of the shadow.” Thank you for waling this road with us as we have journeyed to meet our Lord.