Community mourns the loss of local hero Eldon Jamison

Emergency Responders throughout the southeast paid homage to Eldon Jamison at his funeral on Saturday. Eldon lost his life last week while on a recovery operation at Whitewater Falls. He was a 40-plus year member of the Glenville-Cashiers Emergency Medical Service and the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad.

Pictured above is the escort of Eldon’s body from the funeral home in Sylva to the GCRS station by emergency responders from throughout the southeast. Video courtesy of Johnny Parris.

Hundreds attended the viewing and burial on Saturday at Stewart Cemetery off Yellow Mountain Road, which was so packed from the funeral procession it had to be shut down and people walked from their cars or rode shuttles.

Eldon’s Daughter Amanda accepts a folded flag that covered Eldon’s coffin from JCSO Sheriff Chip Hall.

Eldon’s daughter Amanda Blanton said her father disliked crowds and would hide in a corner or sneak out of a party before ever becoming the life of one. She said he would be the first to get up to go on a call or stay with a sick friend, and the last to mention that his back hurt.

Eldon’s body laid in state at the GCRS station on Saturday for visitors to pay their respects. 

She said he loved to collect coins and build things with his hands, especially using wood. And more than anything else, he loved helping others.

“Helping people was his life, it meant everything to him,” she said. “It didn’t matter what the task was. He wasn’t concerned about what it took to take care of people, he just did it. It didn’t have to be a call. Someone could be sick or grieving for a family member, and he would visit and stay overnight. Whatever it took.”

Emergency responders and law enforcement lined the walkway and saluted as Eldon’s body was carried to the burial site at Stewart Cemetery.

Amanda said the support from the community since Eldon passed on May 5 has been incredible.

“I don’t know that I can even put it into words,” said Amanda. “It’s been overwhelming, the outpouring of love from all over the southeast and thousands of comments from throughout the world. We are so blessed and are forever grateful.”

Senna Sherrill, 5, stands alongside the road on the way to the cemetery showing her support for Eldon and all first responders.

GCRS Captain Chip Sherrill worked with Eldon in various capacities at the Squad for over 20 years. He said Eldon’s willingness to help others was unfailing, no matter the circumstance, and he was definitely one of a kind.

“His level-headedness, his knowledge, his morals; those things cannot be replaced,” said Capt. Sherrill. “He brought a sense of calm to every rescue. When I saw Eldon on scene, it always gave me the sense that, no matter what, everything was going to be okay.”

A memorial in honor of Eldon at The Village Green over the weekend where visitors left flowers and notes.

Eldon served as a paramedic for over decades, he would sometimes get teased by the younger generation, but that didn’t faze him one bit.

“There was a lot of lighthearted teasing among he and other members in reference to him being older,” said Capt. Sherrill. “The jokes were there, but we all knew he could hold his own with the young guys any day. I can’t count the times we were on calls where young guys were struggling with the cold, weather or terrain; and Eldon as always, was standing there with a smile on his face, ready to go.”

Mountain Area Medical Airlift conducted a flyby during the funeral in honor of Eldon.

Emergency responders from throughout the southeast payed their respects on Saturday, including a 21-gun salute from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

JCSO Deputies stand ready to perform a 21-gun salute in honor of Eldon.

JCSO Major Shannon Queen said the 21-gun salute and flag-folding ceremony were organized through a coordinated effort with Eldon’s family, funeral service, and Sheriff Chip Hall.

Eldon was honored with a bugler playing Taps and a 21-gun salute from JCSO.

Eldon was a veteran and additionally a member of the first responder family. Graveside rights such as these are commonplace for veterans, and at times for first responders.

JCSO also performed a flag-folding ceremony to present to Eldon’s daughter Amanda.

“Deputies with the JCSO work closely with first responders throughout Jackson County,” said Maj. Queen. “Particularly the JCSO south substation used to be housed in the GCRS building and friendships beyond work had been made through the years with Mr. Jamison and other GCRS members.”

Eldon Jamison passed away while serving his community on May 5 and will forever be remembered as a local hero.

Eldon Jamison Obituary

Eldon Jamison, age 71, of Cullowhee, NC passed away unexpectedly while serving his beloved community on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. He was the son of the late Edgar and Hilda Jamison. Eldon was a fifty-year member of Yellow Mountain Baptist Church.

It was an emotional scene for those in attendance, listening to the reverends officiating telling story after story of Eldon’s strong character and morals.

He served forty plus years as a paramedic with the Glenville-Cashiers Emergency Medical Service and with the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad. After his retirement from Glenville-Cashiers EMS, he worked at Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club. Eldon was an avid coin collector and a leader in the community that he loved and served.

Emergency vehicles lined Yellow Mountain Road because it has to be shut down given the attendance at Eldon’s funeral.

In addition to his parents, he was also preceded in death by two wives; Vieta Jamison and Arquilla Jamison and two sisters; Ann Webb and Wilba Jean Curtis.

Eldon is survived by three children: Richard (Amy) Baumgarner, Scottie Jamison and Amanda (Brad) Blanton as well as six grandchildren; Taylor Baumgarner, AshLynne Baumgarner, Tristan (Amber) Jamison, Charles (Kathryn) Davis, Haylie Moody and Charlie Blanton. He is also survived by two stepdaughters; Carrie Bowen and Crystal Henderson, three sisters; Minnie (Javan) Bryson, Jessie Griffith and Mary Vachon, one brother; Lonnie (Linda) Jamison along with several nieces and nephews.

A bagpiper played Amazing Grace at Eldon’s funeral.

Eldon was laid in state on Saturday, May 9 at the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad in Glenville, NC. A graveside service followed at the Stewart Cemetery with Rev. Carl Stepp, Rev. Keith Ashe, and Rev. Eddie Stillwell officiating.

Emergency responders and law enforcement salute as Eldon’s body is taken to the burial site.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made in Eldon’s memory to the: Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad, PO Box 919 Cashiers, NC 28717 An online registry is available at: Appalachian Funeral Services of Sylva, NC is serving the family.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William Jamison, please visit Tribute Store

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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