Mr. Gilstrap went to be with his Lord and Savior at Embracing Arms Hospice on Jan. 3, 2014, surrounded by his family and friends.
Earl was born Dec. 19, 1924, in Gainesville.
Earl was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many. He began working at the age of 14 to help provide for his family. Earl worked for many years for the Big Star Grocery Chain and in 1964 moved to Cumming to manage Parson’s Department Store. In 1976, Earl opened his own grocery store in downtown Cumming, Gilstrap’s Food Store. He retired in 1986 and spent his retirement years traveling to 48 states with his wife, Lucille. Also during his retirement, Earl worked at various grocery stores in Forsyth County and McDonald and Sons Funeral Home. He was a dedicated deacon for his church, Antioch Baptist Church of Cumming. He traveled to many foreign countries on mission trips. He was actively involved in the Gideons and prison ministry and affectionately known as “Mr. Gideon.” He was involved with the Georgia Silver Hair Legislature. Earl volunteered with the Ten Commandments campaign, in which he helped distribute more than 600 signs. Earl’s greatest love was his love of Christ.
Earl is survived by his wife of 34 years, Lucille; son, Ben Gilstrap (Dianne) of Gainesville; daughter, Connie Wilbanks of Clarkesville (Tom); daughter, Shirley Varnado of Duluth; daughter, Mary Fouts of Ball Ground; sisters, Sylvia Cooper and Nell Norris, both of Gainesville; sister-in-law, Eura Mae Gilstrap of Mississippi; grandchildren, Daniel Gilstrap (Mandy) of Cleveland, Kelly Burgess (Tommy) of Clarkesville, Katie Stafford (Jonathan) of Jacksonville, Fla., Shawn Fouts (Karyn) of Ball Ground, Brandon Fouts (Crystal) of Holly Springs; 11 great-grandchildren; special family friends Wei, Fan, Charles and Margaret Zhao of Fairfax, Va.; and extended family.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 35 years, Irene Loggins Gilstrap; brothers, Boyd and Bill Gilstrap; and his father and mother, John and Mattie Gilstrap.
A special thank you to the doctors and staff at Northside Hopsital Atlanta, as well as the loving care and support provided by the staff of Embracing Arms Hopsice.
Condolences may be expressed online at mcdonaldandson.com.
Arrangements by McDonald and Son Funeral Home & Crematory, Cumming.
The Northeast Georgian
Wednesday, January 8, 2014