A Life Lived: Edna Lusk spread much joy, laughter in her lifetime

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, May 24, 2017

When I moved to Elizabethton almost 19 years ago, Edna Earle Lusk became one of my favorite people. She was my neighbor across the driveway on Race Street, where we lived in condos.

While Edna was the principal caretaker for Mrs. Ann Black, she practically looked after everyone in that small area of condos. She became a very good friend to my mother, who looked forward to her daily visits — sometimes two or three times a day. My mother quickly gave her the nickname of “Tippy Toes.” It was as though she danced on her toes as she waltzed back and forth across the driveway, taking small steps, but very fast ones. It was a name that stuck, and from then on, Edna was “Tippy Toes” to us.

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Edna died May 9 at the age of 105. A long-time Elizabethton resident, she had been a nursing home resident the past few years. When she was a resident at Asbury Center, Edna was the main greeter. When my neighbor and I visited her at Asbury, Edna was never in her room, but was always out and about visiting with residents, seeking to cheer them up, or greeting visitors to the facility.

She always wore a smile and had a hug which embraced the whole facility. And, she always said goodbye with both a kiss and a hug. For several years — when she was in her 80s — Edna worked at McDonald’s as a hostess. She kept the tables wiped, the floor swept, and made sure the condiment counter was filled. And, of course she greeted customers and attended to their every need. Hospitality was just one of her many virtues, among which were kindness and love. Not to mention, she was a bundle of energy.

Edna was a lot of fun. Once she came across the street late on Christmas Eve with a sprig of mistletoe. “I’m trying to find someone to share my mistletoe with,” she shared with a girlish grin. She left our house and went next door to my neighbor’s house sharing her holiday cheer. At the time my neighbor’s uncle lived with her. A good-hearted man, who enjoyed “Tippy Toe’s” visits as well, he took her kidding in jest. This particular evening, Edna held the mistletoe over his head and then planted a small kiss on his cheek. She continued on, spreading her holiday cheer. However, “Pappy, (my neighbor’s uncle)” who was a diabetic, suffered a low sugar before morning and had to be taken to the emergency room…and soon after he got to the emergency room went into cardiac arrest and had to resuscitated. From then on, we joked with Edna about how dangerous her kisses were. She never forgot it, and would remind us often of that almost “deadly” kiss.

Edna was full of knowledge, having grown up in Elizabethton when it was a bustling town. She grew up on Hattie Ave., the daughter of Jesse B. and Bonnie R. Crowe. Her late husband, Ralph Lusk, was a local movie theater projectionist, and was the last of Elizabethton’s union-affiliated projectionists. What stories Edna could tell about living on Hattie Avenue and going downtown on Saturdays and to the movie theaters.

She had attended Elizabethton High School, Watauga Academy, and East Tennessee State University. She was a very polished lady, and never left the condo in the morning until she had put her makeup and jewelry on and made sure her beautiful white curls were neatly coiffed. Edna enjoyed people and being involved in activities at First Baptist Church, where she was a long-time member, and when younger had been involved in women’s circles and Vacation Bible School.

Edna was a very talented person, and her favorite pastime was knitting and crocheting. She also enjoyed cooking and was always bringing some tasty morsel across the driveway to sample.

Edna during World War II had worked as a stenographer/secretary at the local rayon plants.

After Mrs. Black died, Edna moved to the Harvey House Apartments off F St., but she occasionally came back to Race Street to visit.

We missed her when she moved away, as she brought so much joy to those around her. Hers was a welcoming smile every day.

Not many people by their very presence can bring warmth and joy to a room, but Edna could. I will always remember Edna for her many kindnesses to me and my mother.