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Obituaries for Jan. 11, 2018; William Martin Jr., Jerry Payne, Melba Holt, Bill Easterling, Gary Pearson, Adaline Cullen, Louise Clayton


William Martin Jr.

William Earl Martin Jr. (Nick), 79, of Waleska, Georgia passed away December 28. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Frances Eaton Martin; children, Jennifer McCloskey of Dallas, GA, Billy Martin of Waleska, GA, Brian Martin and wife Kim Martin, also of Dallas, GA, and his nine grandchildren, Jessica, Hailey, Conner, Tyler, Kyle, Garrett, Brandon, Jackson, Maggie, and many friends.

Mr. Martin was born into the Methodist faith to William Earl and Virginia Day Martin on November 26, 1938 in Pearisburg, VA. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering in 1961 and a Master’s in Business Administration in 1971, both from Virginia Tech. Mr. Martin began his career in Virginia, but eventually relocated to Marietta, GA with his family where he worked as a Beverage Base Plant Manager at Coca-Cola. He retired from Coca-Cola at the young age of 55. 

In his spare time, Nick, or Gick, as he was known by his family, enjoyed traveling with his wife and friends, golfing at Big Canoe, cheering on the Virginia Tech Hokies, and spending time with his kids and grandkids. 

A memorial service to celebrate the life of William Earl Martin Jr. (Nick) was held in the Big Canoe Chapel 226 Wolfscratch Cir, Jasper at 2 p.m., Friday, January 5, 2018. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Wellstar Tranquility at Kennesaw Mountain

White Columns Chapel & Cremations is honored to serve the family of William Earl Martin, Jr.


Jerry Payne

Mr. Jerry D. Payne, 76, of Ball Ground passed away Monday, January 8, 2018 at his residence.

Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, January 11, 2018 at Hopewell Baptist Church with Rev. Grant Wade, Rev. Daryl Bailey and Rev. Nathan Smith officiating.  Interment will follow in the church cemetery.  

Mr. Payne was a member of Hopewell Baptist Church.  He was  a problem solver who enjoyed gardening, tinkering and going to yard sales; but most of all he loved his family.

Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Floyd and Zonia Payne; brothers, Olin Payne and Cecil Payne; and sister, Viola Coleman.  Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Ruth Bishop Payne; son, Don Payne; honorary daughter and son-in-law, Martha and Paul Lossner; grandchildren, Aaron Friesen (Margeaux Commerford), Natalie (Joseph) Mortensen; honorary grandson, Andrew Lossner; brother, Grady Payne; brother-in-law, Charles (Dallas) Bishop; sister-in-law, Elaine Carver; special cousin, Mary Evelyn McLaughlin; several nieces, nephews and cousins also survive.

At Jerry's request, in lieu of flower arrangements, please bring one silk flower to be placed on a memorial cross  or donations may also be made to the Hopewell Baptist Church Cemetery Fund.

Sosebee Funeral Home, Canton, GA  is honored to serve the family.  770-479-2131


Melba Holt

Melba Taylor Holt died on January 3, 2018. Born in Leesville, South Carolina, on October 6, 1933, she was the younger daughter of William Kenneth and Ola Warner Taylor.

Melba graduated from Batesburg-Leesville High School in 1951.  She attended Winthrop College in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina, graduating from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1955. In 1955-56 she studied at the Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, while serving as chaplain for Lutheran students attending Duke. She was the first non-ordained person to serve in that capacity at Duke.

Melba was an excellent teacher. She taught at the Lutheran School for Girls in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1956-57. Always an advocate for justice, she considered it a call from God to teach during the initial years of racial integration in South Carolina, being the only white teacher in a totally black high school in Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina in 1969-70 and the following year when there was total integration. During the 1970's and 1980's as a certified Effectiveness Training teacher she taught numerous classes and workshops in Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) and Teacher Effectiveness Training.

Married to the Rev. Joseph Whitsett Holt in 1956, Melba's primary ministry  was to her husband and family. Being the wife of a pastor, she was always ready to serve where needed.  Joe frequently said, “Any church that gets me gets two for one.” No wife and mother was more faithful to her husband, her two sons and their families than “Mother Melba.”

Upon moving to Bent Tree in 1997 Melba was an active volunteer in several capacities in the Jasper Community.  She served with Don Russel and others in starting the Thrift Store and was its first Volunteer Coordinator. 

In the final 11 years of her life when suffering the debilitating Alzheimer Disease she continued to manifest gratitude, persistence, and love.  Truly she was a great lady.

Surviving are her husband of 61 years and their family, and her sister, Joan Taylor Caughman of Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina and her family. Members of Joe and Melba's family are son the Rev. Stephen Arnold Holt and his wife Elizabeth Perkins Holt of Colorado Springs, son the Rev. David Taylor Holt and his wife Deborah Carter Holt of Bishop, Georgia; eleven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Melba's body is being donated to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee, Georgia. Cremation follows.  

A memorial service will be held at Hope Lutheran Church, 3295 Old Highway 5 South, Ellijay, Georgia 30540 on Friday, January 19, 2018 at 1 p.m. with visitation at noon and a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers memorials are invited and encouraged to one's chosen charity.


Bill Easterling

Billy Ray Easterling, 86, of Jasper, Georgia succumbed to Parkinson's disease at his home on Sunday, December 31, 2017. The family wish to mourn their loss privately. There will be no visitation or funeral services at this time.

Bill was born July 3, 1931 in Laurel, Mississippi. He graduated from Mississippi State University in 1958 and married Barbara June Drennan in 1960. They were married 57 years. Bill began working for Southern Bell after college. His 35 year career culminated to head internal audits for BellSouth in Atlanta. In retirement, Bill and Barbara became missionaries, serving in Japan, Russia, England, Lithuania, and the U.S. Bill was an active member of churches where he lived and enjoyed singing in the choirs and playing piano. In addition to Laurel and Jasper, he was a longtime resident of Griffin, Georgia.

Bill is survived by his loving wife Barbara; five children: Carrie Easterling; Bob (Christine) Easterling, two grandchildren: Robin and Kim; William Easterling, Ray Easterling, and Burl (Terri) Easterling; two sisters: Barbara (Don) Smith; Alice (Harry, decd.) Glendenning; and many nieces and nephews.



Gary Pearson

Mr. Gary Michael Pearson, 74, of Jasper passed away Sunday, January 6, 2018 at his home.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Olie and Pauline Pearson and brother, Larry Pearson.

Michael is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Sylvia Pearson of Jasper; nieces, Selena Roland of Jasper and Marion Rinaldi of Chicago.

A graveside service was  held at 2 p.m., Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at Sunrise Memorial Gardens with Reverend Tim Pearson and Reverend Johnny McPherson officiating. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a memorial contribution be made in memory of Michael to Roper Funeral Home.

Arrangements are entrusted to the staff of Roper Funeral Home & Crematory in Jasper, Georgia.

Online condolences can be made at


Adaline Cullen  

Adaline Rose Harding Cullen died peacefully Friday, December 22, 2017 at 82 years of age. She enjoyed good health throughout her long and adventurous life. She was the only child of Samuel Voorhees Harding and Adaline Rose Gautier, born in Auburn, Indiana on August 19, 1935. She attended college at the University of Michigan and was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.  

She is survived by her three children and their families:  Gilbert “Bert” Charles Thurston and family of Decatur, Georgia; Kenneth Andrew Thurston and family of Jasper, Georgia and Margaret Adaline McGrath Swafford and family of Amarillo, Texas for a combined total of seven grandchildren.  

Besides her family, she loved her many dogs, playing the piano, boats and the water (she lived on a houseboat for a time, which seemed to fit her free spirit), travelling, playing bridge and socializing. She was an excellent cook but denied it. Besides Indiana and Saginaw, Michigan; she lived in Wheaton, Illinois; around St. Louis, Missouri; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; and Marco Island, Florida before settling in Big Canoe and then Jasper, Georgia.   

Besides the role of housewife, she worked for much of her life:  as an executive secretary, as a teacher (which she remembered fondly) and her favorite career as a real estate professional.  

There will be a memorial service for her at Roper Funeral Home, 206 Holly Street, Jasper; Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 2:30 p.m.  Refreshments will be served afterwards. 


Louise Clayton

Louise Franzoni Clayton, 95, passed away Thursday, December 28, 2017 at Grandview Health Care Center.

She was preceeded in death by her husband, James Clayton and son, Marvin Clayton. Survivors include her children, Leonard (Betty) Clayton, Juanita Dean, Mary (Donnie) Russell and Carolyn Bruce; 10 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, six great-great grandchildren; a host of other family.

The service was held at the chapel of Sosebee Funeral Home on December 30th, 2017 at 1 p.m. Rev. Horace Richards officiated.

Pallbearers: Josh Prince, Anderson Whittle, Jackson Whittle, Philip Holcombe, Chris Clayton, Drew Clayton, Chandler Clayton, Richard Burrell. Honorary pallbearers: Dale Clayton, Ryker Burrell.

Burial was at Sharp Mountain Baptist Church Cemeter, Ball Ground, Ga. 

Sosebee Funeral Home, Canton was in charge of the arrangements.