Etta Mae Rouse, 86, of Clayton, formerly of Fayetteville and Hope Mills, passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 2, 2018, surrounded by her loving family. She fought a long and brave battle with Leiomyosarcoma, with the first diagnosis in 1999. Her family surrounded her with love and compassion, and during her final days, she was constantly cared for by her sisters and nieces.
Etta Mae was the second daughter of Joseph and Margaret Budd Rouse who predecease her. She was also predeceased by her older sister, Peggy Rouse Lawrence, and brothers-in-law Jerry Swanson, Bill Lawrence and Ray Freeman.
Etta Mae was born on February 3, 1932 in Hope Mills. Her family moved to Raleigh for several years where she started her elementary school education. Upon returning to Hope Mills, Etta Mae completed elementary school and graduated from Hope Mills High School in 1950. She earned her Associate’s Degree from Peace College and subsequently completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Fayetteville State University, graduating summa cum laude.
Etta Mae worked for several years in Fayetteville with the Home Extension Curb Market prior to becoming employed at Fort Bragg as a US Civil Service employee. She retired in 1990 after working over 35 years at Fort Bragg. Her career spanned increasing levels of responsibility serving as the executive assistant to Major Generals leading the JFK Special Warfare Center and School. Over the years, she was fortunate to work with many military leaders who helped ensure the safety of our country. After her retirement, she became active in many clubs and service groups. She was an honorary UDC Division President, former President of J.E.B. Stuart UDC, member of the Woman’s Club of Fayetteville, the Fayetteville Pilot Club, and was a long-time member of NARFE. She was a member of Hay Street United Methodist Church.
Etta Mae was a warm and caring person with many fine qualities. She was a gourmet cook and always enjoyed entertaining her family and friends, especially around the holidays. Her nieces fondly remember Christmas Eve dinners ‘at Aunt Mae’s house’ where they were always treated to delicious foods and desserts. She enjoyed traveling and was able to see more than 40 states in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, while traveling with her sisters, friends and extended family. One unique talent she had was the ability to complete the NY Times crossword puzzles in ink. She read religiously and her wealth of knowledge was impressive.
Etta Mae is survived by her two remaining sisters, Elizabeth Swanson and Cama Freeman, both of Clayton, NC. She is also survived by five nieces, Sharron Swanson Bryant and husband Dale; Lynne Swanson Parrish and husband Charles; Deanna Swanson Carter and husband Chris; and Jill Swanson Clark and husband Andrew, all of Clayton, NC; Robin Swanson Register and husband Dallas of Dunn, NC and one nephew, Hylton Lawrence and wife Phyllis, of Dunn, NC. Also surviving are great nieces Elizabeth Major and husband Jason; Ashley Muirhead and Alexandria Clark; and great nephews David Lawrence, Jonathan Byrd and wife Nicole, Jerry “JD” Bryant, Ryan Carter and wife Victoria, Dylan Carter, Matthew Muirhead and wife Amanda, and Aaron Clark. She is also survived by one great-great niece, Paige Byrd.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Rogers & Breece Funeral Home Chapel on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 2pm with Reverend David Blackman officiating. Visitation with the family will be held prior to the service from 12:45 pm to 1:45 pm. Etta Mae will be laid to rest at Cross Creek Cemetery #4.
In lieu of flowers, Etta Mae’s family requests contributions in her memory be sent to Hay Street United Methodist Church, 320 Hay Street, Fayetteville, North Carolina 28301 or to Liberty Hospice Services, 3200 Spring Forest Road, Suite 201, Raleigh, North Carolina 27616.
The family wishes to thank Liberty Hospice of Raleigh for their caring and support during the last three months of Etta Mae’s life. Their kindness and compassion enabled Etta Mae to remain in the comfort of her home surrounded by her loved ones. Nicole Simmons, RN, Melissa Collins, RN, and Melanie Blakeney, Medical Social Worker, became great friends and beacons of support for Etta Mae and her family. We will be forever grateful for their support.