Laura Strickland Denton passed away peacefully on Wednesday, April 15, at the age of 96. Laura was born in rural Nash County on February 23, 1919, one of 12 children to Eddie and Pattie Strickland. She spent her childhood farming with her family and the love of the earth never left her. After graduation from East Carolina Teachers College (ECTC) in 1941, she accepted her first and only teaching assignment in Whitakers where she met her future husband, local dentist, Dr. Ernest Cicero Denton. They were married for 12 short years until his death leaving her with four daughters when she was only 36. This moment defined her life and from that point in time her guiding purpose in life became to raise her four “girls” and to “get them a college education.” She farmed the family farm for one year and then went to work for Watson Seed Farms as office manager for many years. Later in her career she became a case manager for Edgecombe County Department of Social Services. During this tenure she was elected to the Whitakers Town Council and subsequently became Mayor of Whitakers, a role in which she served for 8 years.
Aside from countless hours spent supporting her family in their endeavors, Laura was a faithful member of the Whitakers United Methodist Church, an avid gardener and a superb seamstress. In her later years, her grandchildren and great grandchildren became the focus of her time and energy and two more generations were blessed to benefit from her strength and wisdom.
Surviving are daughters, Emily Denton Vann (Ed) of Rocky Mount, Lynn Denton Templeton of Durham and Rebecca Denton Henry (Pat) of Rocky Mount. She is also survived by eight grandchildren: Laurie Vann, Katie Butler (Chris), Carey Smouse (Scott), Mark Templeton (Jennifer), Lauren Templeton, Anne Henry, Tracey Brinkley (Dave), Sarah Henry and ten great grandchildren: Tyler Smouse, Harrison Smouse, Taylor Templeton, Hunter Templeton, Peyton Templeton, John Tyler Trefil, Travis Brinkley, Tiffany Brinkley, Lane Butler and Alex Butler. Also surviving are sisters Melba Crowder of Houston TX and Jackie Thompson of Stanhope NC. She was preceded in death by her youngest daughter Eolyn Denton Jenkins of Durham and seven brothers and two sisters.
A memorial service will be held at Whitakers United Methodist Church on Saturday, April 18 at 2 pm. The family will greet friends and relatives in the Education Building next to the church one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Whitakers United Methodist Church, PO Box 276, Whitakers, NC 27891 or to The Center for Volunteer Caregiving, 1150 SE Maynard Road, #210, Cary, NC 27511.
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Arrangements entrusted to Wheeler and Woodlief Funeral Home, 1130 N. Winstead Avenue, Rocky Mount NC 27804