On May 25, 1979, when American Airlines flight 191, headed for Los Angeles, crashed moments after takeoff from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, 271 passengers and crew members perished in the deadliest aviation accident on American soil. Among the fatalities was the Rev. Edwards E. Elliott, who was returning home from the General Assembly that concluded days before at Geneva College. As the Presbyterian Guardian noted, “the Lord was calling his servant home. Mr. Elliott had made been making plans for his retirement, had drawn up a will only a few months before, and had even held a family reunion before leaving for the General Assembly.”
Following his graduation from Wheaton College (1939) and Westminster Seminary (1942), Elliott ministered in Orthodox Presbyterian congregations in Baltimore, San Francisco, and Garden Grove, California (the last for 23 years). He served as moderator of the Presbytery of Southern California as well as chair of its Candidates and Credentials Committee for long tenures.
On May 5, 2014, Elliott’s daughter, Nancy Mehne, wrote the following note: “100 years ago today my father, Edwards E. Elliott, was born in Changsha, China, to a Presbyterian-minister father and a medical doctor mother serving as missionaries. EEE was known for his warm ‘Hi, friend’ greeting, his pastoral heart, his scholarship and writing, his memorization of Scripture, his continual prayer life (his lips often moved when he walked alone to the embarrassment of his children), and his strong love for the church (nearly every day Pastor Elliott went door-to-door calling, inviting folks to church—keeping careful records of the growing neighborhoods of Orange County, CA). Not seeking attention, he was quick to laugh, he was known for his smile, he was witty and given to puns even in Greek (his college major), and he was a great storyteller at the dinner table. As his children left for school each day, his parting words were ‘Ora et Labora.’ He loved California, played volleyball three times a week over lunch at the YMCA (with a vengeance), body surfed, and was dean or speaker at too many summer church camps to count. EEE’s active involvement at OPC General Assemblies and Presbytery made for many family educational and visits-with-cousins road trips across the country.”
Picture: Ed and Doris Elliott, 1969