WILMINGTON — Emma “Jean” Ellison Herchenhahn, 75, entered into the presence of her Lord and Savior early Tuesday morning, June 8, 2021, at Lower Cape Fear Hospice LifeCare Center. She had fought long and hard and in the end, she won! Though our hearts ache unbearably at our loss, we are confident she is safely home in the presence of Jesus, and we will see her again.
She was preceded in death by her father, Clyde Ellison; mother, Iona Ellison; and two brothers, Clyde Ellison Jr. and Michael Ellison.
Jean is survived by her husband, Jimmy Dale Herchenhahn; three children, Janna (Jeff) Attoe of Hampstead, Jay (Gina) Herchenhahn of Lancaster, South Carolina, and Joy (Brad) Barth of Kernersville; grandchildren, Jensen (Ray) Rivera, Jonah Attoe, Jayse Attoe, Kalli Herchenhahn, Kassi Herchenhahn, Khloe Herchenhahn, Caleb Herchenhahn, Cooper Barth, Colton Barth, and Copley Barth; great-grandson, Vincent Rivera; sister, Frances Brown; and many sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and friends.
Jean was born July 10, 1945, in Union Point, Georgia. She grew up there and loved to play hard — especially basketball. She attended Tennessee Temple College in Chattanooga and played for the Crusaders for two years. It was there on the basketball court that she caught the eye of her future husband. They were married Aug. 6, 1966, and began a lifetime of ministry together.
After Jim finished college, they lived in Trion, Georgia, for about two more years, where he pastored the Fellowship Baptist Church. Then in 1970, the Lord called them to Wilmington to work at Grace Baptist Church — first as assistant pastor, and then starting in 1971 as senior pastor. Jean was a faithful help-mate and pastor’s wife, a devoted mother and Sunday school teacher. She taught kindergarten at Wilmington Christian Academy for 15 years and was greatly involved in helping get the school off the ground. She complimented her husband in ministry and was well-loved by so many in the congregation over many years. She loved music and sang in the choir, as well as solos and small groups. She also had a great sense of humor.
In 2006, Jim retired from Grace Baptist, and he and Jean did some short-term mission work in Guam. He then began filling pulpits for preachers in Wilmington and Wilson. That ministry led them to Riley’s Creek Baptist Church in 2010, where he was called to be their senior pastor.
Jim recently retired from Riley’s Creek for the primary purpose of taking care of his beloved wife and soulmate who was declining in health. He wanted to spend as much time with her as he possibly could, and that he did.
The Herchenhahn family would like to give their heartfelt thanks to Joanna and Steve Groves for their many years of dedicated care to our mama. Joanna is a treasure to the family, and we will be forever grateful to her. The family would also like to thank David and Cathy Lane, Dan Inman, Edna Lancaster, Mark and Nancy Cramer, the Hospice Care Team and the many others that helped and loved Jean. Jim would also like to express his appreciation to Grace Baptist Church and Riley’s Creek Baptist Church for their kindness and support.
The family will receive friends for visitation from 3:30 to 6 p.m., Friday, June 11, at Grace Baptist Church, 1401 North College Road, Wilmington. A memorial service honoring Jean will immediately follow at 6 p.m. Longtime family friend, the Rev. Terry Coats, will officiate. A graveside service will be held at 3 p.m., Saturday, June 12, at Oleander Memorial Gardens.
Memorial donations may be made to Lower Cape Fear LifeCare Foundation, 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401.
Share online condolences with the family at Quinn-McGowen Funeral Home.