Pastor Merline Hammonds Gupton, 77-years-old, went to be with the Lord on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Her strong will to live, unwavering faith in God, and the love and prayers of family, friends, and many supporters carried her through her last three months as she struggled to recover from an acute stoke.
Merline was born on Nov. 6, 1939, in Bladenboro, North Carolina, to the late William R. Hammonds and Ethel Lee Gooden. She was one of eight beautiful children. Five brothers and two sisters preceded her in death – Robert Hammonds, Bobby Hammonds, Roy Lee Hammonds, Billy Hammonds, Donald Ray Hammonds, Nelva Dell Hammonds and Josephine Potter.
She is survived by her beloved sister – Carolyn Whitley.
Merline was preceded in death by her only son, Layton Kelly Jr.
She is survived by her husband of 48 years – Donald Gupton; three daughters – Brenda Meshaw, Donna Smith, Shermane Parker, two sons-in-laws – Tom Meshaw and Mike Smith; 11 grandchildren – Garrett Meshaw, Michael Smith, Blythe Bowker, Kohl Smith, Amanda Ward, Andrew Parker, Abigail Parker, Austin Parker, Ayden Clowdus, Addison Clowdus, Allison Clowdus, Emmalee McMahan; and five great-grandchildren – Jayden Packer, Trace Bowker, Brielle Bowker, Titan Packer and Jeremiah Parker. She is also survived by countless extended family, too numerous to name.
Merline loved her family and looked forward to reunions and gatherings where she would cook family-favorites including liver haslet, chicken and pastry and potato salad. She’d smile proudly as her nephews would line up by her pots as the prayer was recited.
Her favorite holiday was Christmas and she would start planning her gift giving in January every year. Each holiday season would begin with a road trip with her sister, Carolyn, to Sasser’s farm in Bladenboro because “only the best sweet potatoes would do” for her pies. Her holiday feasts were planned so that each child and grandchild had their favorite item on the table.
Merline was the pastor of Solid Rock Pentecostal Church for over 30 years. She loved her church, but above all she loved and supported many churches in and around Wilmington. She traveled many times to spread the love of God to others and she was most proud of her mission work in Haiti.
There will be two memorial services led by the Rev. Bobby Wilson on Saturday, Nov. 19, at Solid Rock Pentecostal Church, 118 Rockledge Road, Wilmington, NC. A service open to all from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a private service for the family from 2 to 4 p.m.
Consider a memorial donation to Solid Rock Pentecostal Church by visiting tmcfunding.com.