Elsie M. Watts, 91, of Lykens, passed away in the comfort of her home on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, surrounded by her loving family.

Born Dec. 6, 1927, in Chambersburg, she was a daughter of the late Amos and Mary (Hinkle) McLaughlin.

Elsie was united in marriage with Gerald D. Watts on Oct. 29, 1949. Gerald and Elsie enjoyed 52 years of marriage before his passing on April 10, 2002.

Elsie lived to serve others, and she dedicated herself to that passion. At 15 years old, Elsie began working as a dishwasher at the Molly Pitcher Restaurant in Chambersburg. A devoted employee, Elsie would work waitressing shifts before and after school, even including her lunch hour. After graduating Chambersburg High School in 1946 with perfect attendance, she became the first in her family to attend college. Elsie graduated from Eastern Bible Institute in 1949 with a teaching certificate. She budgeted her waitressing tips and proudly completed her college career for $1,000 total, including the occasional popsicle treat. Elsie often spoke of the many friends and influential church services from her college days.

Helping others continued to be the theme of Elsie’s life, as she joyfully spent 72 years serving her customers at Mongold’s Restaurant in Hershey, the Elcentro in Harrisburg, and the All-American Diner in Frystown. She retired in 2016, at the age of 87, from the R&K Diner in Lykens, where she worked for 26 years.

A faithful Christian, Elsie served alongside her husband. Together they ministered to congregations in Enola, Hollentown, West Fairview, and Hegins. Though she greatly enjoyed the role of minister’s wife, her primary focus remained on her family. Elsie loved being a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Elsie is survived by her daughters, Elaine K. VanLierde, of Pine Grove, and her significant other, Robert Barinas, and Emily L. Peters, of Palmyra, and her husband, Michael. She is also survived by her granddaughters, Dr. Tonya Y. Miller and her spouse, Karen Palmer, Rev. Stephanie L. Martinez and her husband, Eloy, and Rev. Stacy L. Holmes and her husband, Jonathan. Elsie’s greatest joys were her three great-grandchildren: Sophia A. Holmes, Livia Q. Holmes, and Josiah M. Martinez.

In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers, Amos and Thomas McLaughlin; and sisters: Ruth Forester, Betty Fickes, Kathryn Yeager and Janet McLaughlin.

Her Funeral Service and Life Celebration will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, at River of God Church, 747 Wertzville Road, Enola. Granddaughters, Rev. Stephanie L. Martinez and Rev. Stacy L. Holmes, will officiate. The family welcomes guests to attend a luncheon following the service. Interment will be in Chambersburg Mennonite Cemetery.

A viewing for family and friends will be from 10 to 11 a.m., prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to either River of God Church at: www.riverofgodchurch.org, or PA Vent Camp (co-founded by Dr. Tonya Miller) at: www.paventcamp.org.

Those wishing to share memories or offer condolences may visit: BitnerCares.com.

Arrangements are entrusted to the Ronald C.L. Smith Funeral Home, Duncannon.


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