Eric Jernigan, Sr. Profile Photo
1933 Eric 2021

Eric Jernigan, Sr.

January 29, 1933 — September 21, 2021

Eric Cooper Jernigan, Sr., 88, departed this world to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, after a lengthy illness, with his loving wife, LaDora, at his side. Eric was born January 29, 1933, in Goshen, Alabama, the seventh child of Joseph Edward Jernigan, Sr., and Emma Rosa Cooper Jernigan. Since his father was in the education field, Eric moved quite often throughout south Alabama, attending different schools. Eric was promoted two grades while in elementary school, resulting in his being one of the youngest of his 1950 graduating class of Enterprise High School. Eric worked throughout his life; one of his early jobs was working in a local candy factory. He threw newspapers and worked in a grocery store, also. In high school, Eric played football, joking his position was "deodorant", or right guard. Eric's father, Joseph Edward, passed away while Eric was still in high school, leaving only brother Ralph and Eric home to help their mother. After high school, Eric enrolled in the University of Alabama to study Chemical Engineering. Having no funds to attend, he needed to work. Dr. Eric Rogers, for whom Eric was named, head of the University Physics Department and a close friend of Joseph Edward Jernigan, helped Eric secure a job that would give Eric free room and board, working at Tutweiler Dining Hall. Eric later worked in the lab at a local paper mill, which paid better and gave him time for his labs and studies. Eric was selected for the prestigious Tau Beta Pi organization based on his scholastic record. He also joined the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE), being a member for over sixty-five years. The first day at Tutweiler, Eric met the love of his life, LaDora Foust, who had been working at Tutweiler for a year. It took six months, yet Eric finally asked LaDora out on a date. Neither had money, yet spending time together led to a lifetime of love. They became engaged and LaDora had graduated and taught school for a year, Eric graduated in May, and they were married at the home of the bride in Blountsville, Alabama, on June 10, 1954. After a brief honeymoon at the beach, Eric and LaDora set out by train to a new life in Houston, Texas, where Eric had accepted a job with Shell Oil Company. With no car, no furniture, and only a few essentials, Eric and LaDora began their married life. Within five years, the family had grown with the addition of two girls and two boys, Ramona, Eric, Jr., Donna, and Larry. With Shell, Eric started at the research center, at the time located at Deer Park Refinery; Eric soon moved into a headquarters position. Eric became a headquarters expert in the field of alkylation, and co-wrote two papers on this refinery process, which are still referenced today. Eric's headquarters assignment relocated him to New York City. The City was quite a change for a man from rural Alabama. He also made presentations at the Shell Oil Company Headquarters in the Hague and was influential in catalyst selection that took him to Versailles, France. While the children were growing up, Eric served as Church Treasurer, Church Deacon, a Scoutmaster, a little league baseball coach, escort for Father-Daughter Banquets, and a dear friend and neighbor to those in need around him. Family vacations were by car, with Eric doing most of the driving, and the family playing games and singing songs along the way. Eric provided the mental math calculations when the family played games with counting and multiplication. Moving back to Texas, the family joined Tallowood Baptist Church, which became a gathering place for the family for decades. Eric and LaDora served in various positions within the Church. In 2016, Eric was elected as a Deacon Emeritus by the Tallowood Baptist Deacon Board. Even before Eric's retirement, he and LaDora started on a quest to walk a 10K planned walk in all fifty states and each of the fifty-one capitals through the American Volkssport Association. LaDora would plan the trips, and they successfully completed this goal. The couple also walked a series of the thirteen original colonies, the states along Route 66, the states of the Lewis and Clark expedition, colleges and universities, rivers, and walks associated with U.S. Presidents. They also completed Elderhostels/Roads Scholar classes in forty-six of fifty states, each being a one- to three-week educational course. Eric and LaDora have traveled throughout Europe, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and Canada. They drove the Alaskan Highway to arrive for one of their two trips to Alaska. One of the last trips was a detour after an Elderhostel to see the waterway locks at Sault Ste. Marie between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, reminiscent of the locks on the Warrior River Eric had traveled while working for the Tuscaloosa Alabama paper mill lab. Eric and LaDora's sixty-seven-year love story has resulted in not only the four beloved children and their spouses: Ramona and Steve Ackman, Eric (and Sandy) Jernigan, Jr., Donna Lee Jernigan, and Larry and Pam Jernigan, Eric was very proud of his seven grandchildren: Julie and Andy Sparkman, Jenny and Ryan Stueber, Jeremy Jernigan, Jonathen Jernigan, Kelli Jernigan, Kyle Jernigan, and John Ackman. Eric always had a smile for his seven great-grandchildren, also - Rebecca, Daniel, Madison, Mason, David, Mack, and Annalise. Eric was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Edward Jernigan, Sr., and Emma Rosa Cooper Jernigan, all six of his brothers and sisters, John Milton, Joseph Edward, Jr., Virginia Sanders, Juanita Pitts, Frances Golden, and Ralph Benjamin. He was also preceded in death by his beloved daughter-in-law, Sandy Elliott Jernigan. Following a family celebration of his life, Eric will be laid to rest at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Kerrville, Texas. Serving as pallbearers are Eric's grand-sons and grand-sons-in-law, Jeremy Jernigan, Jonathen Jernigan, Kyle Jernigan, John Ackman, Andy Sparkman, and Ryan Stueber. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Eric Cooper Jernigan and LaDora Foust Jernigan Endowed Scholarship at the University of Alabama, providing help for those students in the College of Engineering or the College of Education that have to work to attend the University. Sign Guestbook>> 2 Condolence(s) Anne Golden Borman Chelsea, AL Friday, September 24, 2021 I cherish many lovely memories of Jernigan Family reunions and the love and commitment shared by those seven Jernigan kids. What a generation that was! I will miss Uncle Eric as I miss all my aunts and uncles who partnered with my own dear parents to provide such a strong sense of family. Their influences are alive and well in the lives of their children and their children's children. Aunt LaDora, you are in my prayers. We love you all. Anne Kathy Haynes Enterprise, AL Thursday, September 23, 2021 I will miss Uncle Eric, and I grieve with you Aunt LaDora and cousins. This obituary was beautifully written, and it brought tears and smiles. I love you and will be praying for the comfort only our Father God can give.
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