(US ARMY RET.)
AUGUST 1, 1955 - AUGUST 17, 2008
Rea was a man that you either liked him or you didn’t like him but either way he was a man you would never forget. He was a brave and courageous man who fought for our country with pride and honor. He was haunted by the war and its senselessness and tragedies but he did what he had to do to protect each and every one of us. Today we are here to honor the man, the husband, the father, the grandfather, the friend, the soldier and the Hero and to give him the full military honors he so rightly deserves.
He had the biggest heart of any man and it was made of pure gold. A few years ago a friend asked him to play Santa Claus in his restaurant. Rea tried to act like it was no big deal but he was so excited to do it for the kids. He spoke of this one little girl who came up and jumped up on his lap and she ran through a usual list of things she wanted for Christmas and she hopped down off his lap. A little while later she came back and jumped back up on his lap again and said to Rea, “Santa, I have changed my mind. I don’t want any of the toys I asked for; I only want a pair of shoes for me and my brother to wear that fit”. Rea became so emotional that he had a hard time continuing to play Santa Claus the rest of the evening. He came home that evening and proceeded to try and find out who the little girl was and where she lived. He found out that these children were living with their grandmother who was having a hard time making ends meet. On his own he started taking a collection of money around the neighborhood and matched that along with adding more of his own money to buy toys, clothes and SHOES for the little girl and her brother. He made sure they had them by Christmas morning but he didn’t want them to know they came from him.
Rea loved all children with all he had. Years ago while living in Arkansas he met Alex Bishop who was 12 years old at the time and he asked Alex to mow his yard. Rea handed him $30 when Alex finished the work. Alex would not take the $30 because he said it was only a $14 job. Rea saw in this young boy a chance to be a friend, a mentor and a father figure. From then on Rea took Alex into his heart as his own son. Alex is now a handsome 22 year old man who is grieving as we all are for the “father” he has lost. There are so much of Rea’s qualities such as caring, honesty, courage and bravery in this young man. Rea will live on in Alex.
Rea loved his wife Monna’s daughter, Teri, her husband Jeff and the grandbabies, Cameron and Gavin as his family. He loved all of them but he was especially close to Gavin, whom he called “Bubba” because he was able to spend more time with him. Each day when Teri would bring “Bubba” to the house and if Rea was able he would take Bubba out for a ride around the neighborhood with his “Big Wheel Bike”. He would also make sure he had a pocketful of change to throw out in front of Bubba when he wasn’t looking. He loved to see the look on Bubba’s face when he would find the coins and shove them in his pocket.
Sometimes in anticipation of Cameron coming over Rea would go out and buy a “face painting kit” for the two of them. He would sit down with Cameron so they could paint each other’s faces. Somehow Rea was the only one with paint on his face but he didn’t care. He would sit patiently until Cameron was finished, no matter how long it took.
Do we have to remind anyone of Rea’s obsession with Sci-Fi? Everyone who knew him knew not to interrupt him when he was watching Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis or Battlestar Galactica. He may or may not answer the phone but if he did answer the phone the conversation would be very short. He would say “gotta go my show is coming back on”.
Mrs. Rea B. Ellithorpe (Monna’s words to her husband)
Rea, you are my life, my love, my soul and my heart. You showed me what true love, trust and companionship really is and I felt it every moment we spent together. We stood by each other through sickness and in health even before we said our wedding vows to each other. You always made me feel so special; you gave me roses all the time for no reason, you held me when I cried, you listened when I complained and no matter how bad you felt you always tried and succeeded in making me laugh. You protected me and loved me like I have never known before and I thank God for every day we spent together.
Early Sunday morning I prayed so hard for God to let me keep you here with me but this was not to be and as hard as it was I had to let you go that morning but I did not leave your side for one second. I promised you I would not leave you and I was with you, holding your hand until the end. I am still with you and hold you in my heart and my soul forever.
I am Mrs. Rea B. Ellithorpe. I am proud to say that and for everyone to know it. I will carry your name proudly as your wife for the rest of my days. Death may have parted us too soon but nothing can break the love, friendship, respect and commitment we had for each other. The only comfort I find in this is that I know you are no longer in pain.
I love you my sweet Darling. Rest easy and peaceful my love for I am with you today and forever. Your Loving Wife Forever.