Obituaries: June 28, 2017


Elsie Sparks McKinney

June 6, 1923 – June 21, 2017

Elsie Sparks McKinney entered the presence of her Lord June 21, 2017, in Pahrump, Nevada, where she lived for the past three years with her daughter, Loretta, and her family. She fought the good fight to the end, keeping in touch with family and friends until the last few weeks.

Elsie Jewel Sparks was born to John and Minnie Sparks, of Estatoe in Mitchell County, June 6, 1923, the eldest of nine brothers and sisters. She took on responsibility early in life, helping raise her siblings as a young girl herself. At age 17 she married Howard “Buck” McKinney, of Estatoe, and they started their family in the Blue Ridge. Three children later, they set out to make a new life for themselves in southern California, where she and Buck took advantage of the opportunities it offered for hardworking people. She worked in the aerospace industry as an electronics assembler and built a property rental business that continues to this day.

Elsie is survived by her sister, Gladys Pittman; her brothers, A.G., Arvil and Arthur; her son, Richard; and daughter, Loretta Larsen. While she had seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, she enjoyed being known by a multitude of nieces and nephews as “Aunt Elsie.”

Visitation is 5-6 p.m. Thursday, June 29, at Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Estatoe. Funeral services are 6 p.m. at the church. Anyone who knew and loved Elsie is invited to come and share a few words about her in this celebration of her life. Burial will follow in the church cemetery, where she will be laid to rest next to her beloved husband of more than 67 years.

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Dillon Gilpin

Dillon Gilpin, 22, of Gilpin Lane, Newland, died Monday, June 19, 2017. His funeral service was noon Friday, June 23, 2017, at Johnson’s Chapel Baptist Church with the Revs. Bill Shoupe and Ken Staton officiating. A time to support the family, share memories and receive friends was 11 a.m. until time of service Friday at the church. Interment followed in the Gilpin Family Cemetery. Words of comfort may be emailed to the family by going to, selecting Dillon Gilpin’s name and signing his guestbook. Webb Funeral Home of Spruce Pine is assisting the Gilpin family. Dillon’s obituary has also been posted on Facebook.

The MItchell News

Mailing Address: PO Box 339 
Spruce Pine, NC 28777 
Phone: 828-765-7169
Fax: 828-765-1616