If you are a Greenville or Madison native, at some point, you have probably come in contact with a small, sweet lady with a smile on her face serving her community diligently. Her name is Elesta Pritchett and, at 84 years old, she is still relentlessly working to make her church and community a better place.
Elesta Mae Clemons was born to Berton Clemons Sr. and Mary Smith Clemons of Greenville on Aug. 31, 1930. She has been in and around Greenville ever since. Elesta has five children. Her eldest, James Brown, Jr, born in 1947, passed away in 2001 after being on dialysis for 18 years. The rest of her children are Johnny Lee Brown, Dorothy Pritchett, Juanita Pritchett and Johnny Beryl Pritchett, Jr.
“God has blessed me with wonderful children,” said Pritchett. “We have a lot of fun together.”
From her childhood, Elesta has possessed a go-getter spirit. At an early age, she had a passion for reading and learning.
“We didn’t have much to read,” said Pritchett. “So I would read everything I could get my hands on. Books, magazines, anything.”
To this day, Elesta hasn’t lost her drive. Over the years, she has remained active wherever she is needed. She is a member of New Zion Missionary Baptist church where she serves as President of the Ladies Ministry, President of the Deaconess Ministry, chairperson of the Budget Committee, chairperson of the Pastor’s Aid Ministry and chairperson of “Hymn-o-rama,” a special music service which is held every second Sunday in June. Mrs. Pritchett is also active in her church’s association, First Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Association, where she has served as Vice President and President of the Women’s Department a total of around 17 years. In fact, she doesn’t stop there. She has filled many positions all over Madison County including serving on the Board of Trustees at NFCC, as well as serving on the board at Madison’s hospital. In Greenville, Pritchett is currently on the town council, Country Christmas committee and she is co-chair of the Country Christmas bake-off, and has been for many years.
At 84 years old, Mrs. Pritchett is more active than most. On Nov. 14, she fell, breaking three ribs. However, this hurdle hasn’t stopped her from remaining active.
“I have something inside of me that drives me to push on,” said Pritchett. “I can’t stop.”
Elesta’s favorite hymn is “Father I Stretch My Hands to Thee.” When asked about her favorite hymn, she began to laugh and proceeded to tell a story.
“I was at an Association-wide service,” said Pritchett. “After my favorite song was played, I told the congregation that if that song was played at my funeral, I’d sit up from my casket and stretch my hands as high as I could. They didn’t take that very well,” said Elesta with a chuckle. “They assured me the pews would be emptied as fast as I could sit up!”
All humor aside, Mrs. Pritchett lives out her favorite hymn. She serves God to the best of her ability and never ceases to stop doing his work. She asserts that she seeks to make things better.
“What drives me to serve is trying to make things better for everybody,” said Pritchett. “When I see things that need change, I put forth all that I have to make things better. I always want my efforts to bring forth positivity.”
Pritchett continued with some excellent advice for Madison County’s youth, “Begin to work hard so that when you make your exit, you leave the world better than it was when you arrived.”
One of Elesta’s favorite pieces of scripture is Psalm 100, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the Earth.Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lordis good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
It is certain that Elesta has taken some cues from this psalm, as she does everything with a joyful heart.
“I don’t worry about how long something will take or how much work it will involve,” said Pritchett. “I do all things to the best of my ability and I am a happier person because of it.”
The world could certainly use more people like Elesta. With her example and the examples of other elders throughout Madison County who have put forth a great deal of effort to make our homefront shine, it is hopeful that our youth will follow in their footsteps.