Nelda Petree McElrath, 88, passed away on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. She was born in Forsyth County on May 28, 1927, (the fourth of five children) to Claude Rufus Petree and Sarah Norman Petree. She grew up on a farm on Petree Road, a road that was filled with siblings, as well as aunts, uncles and cousins. When she married John McElrath, they built a house right beside where she grew up and she lived there until she died. It was exactly the way she wanted it.
Nelda graduated from Old Town High School in 1944 and attended Women's College (now UNC-G) for one year. She retired from Sara Lee Corporation from the Accounting Department. In 1992, Mom and Dad built a log cabin near West Jefferson and were so happy spending half their retirement there - working in the yard, taking hikes and driving the Parkway. She was of the Methodist faith and a life long member of Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church where she was a Sunday School teacher, member of the choir and Tabor Troopers.
Mom was a great cook - not a gourmet chef but a good ol' Southern cook, serving meat, fresh veggies, rolls, homemade desserts and iced tea every night and according to her grandchildren, she made the best green beans and vegetable soup in the state. She loved being busy and active, working in her flower beds and vegetable garden for many years. She sewed and taught her daughters to sew as well. She belonged to the Extension Homemakers.
Nelda will be remembered for her gentle, shy smile yet spunky nature, her incredible work ethic and her love of family. Her best friends were her family - her sisters and "her girls", Molly and Marian. Family surrounded her.
She was predeceased by her husband John Marion McElrath, her sisters: Marjorie Petree Jones, Norma Petree Shaver and Nancy Regina Petree and a brother, C. Royce Petree. Survivors include two daughters: Molly McElrath Bland (David) of Cary and Marian McElrath Bell (David) of Raleigh; one sister-in-law Lorene Petree; grandchildren: Lee Graham Bell (Jenny) of Greensboro, NC, Josephine Kathryn Bland of Durham, NC, John Tabor Bell of Boone, NC and Sarah Grayson Bland of Brooklyn, NY.
A funeral service will be held on Friday, August 21, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at Salem Funeral Home Main Street Chapel officiated by Rev. Mark Key. Interment will be at Salem Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 1- 1:45 prior to the service.
Memorials may be made to the Nature Conservancy-NC Chapter 334 Blackwell Street, Suite 300 Durham, NC 27701 or Old Salem Museums and Gardens, 600 S. Main St., Winston-Salem NC 27101.
Online condolences may be sent to www.salemfh.com