Mrs. Melba Weaver Little passed away Saturday, June 15, 2019, at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro, N.C., following a long battle with lung disease. She was 85.
Mrs. Little was born on April 12, 1934, in Bagley, N.C., a crossroads community in Johnston County home to her family farm. She was the fourth child of Christopher and Daisy Weaver—a family that eventually would include 11 children (six girls and five boys). The Weaver siblings grew up among a bounty of farmland with all its usual characters: cows, chickens, pigs and as many garden vegetables as one could eat. These became welcome commodities standing in the face of the Great Depression, of which Mrs. Little was five years old by its end. Later in life, after Mrs. Little married and left the farm, she and her older siblings would return on most Sundays for a meal with the younger ones. These reunions continued, in some part, for the next 50 years. The location changed, but the Weaver siblings kept coming back—to share a meal, to recap recent goings-on, to give each other one more hug until the next time.
Fiercely independent, Mrs. Little wasn’t looking for a husband. But when she met Harold Little in 1949, things changed. On their first date they discovered they had the same birthday, five years apart. The stars aligned, and the two would share the next 70 years together, marrying after Mr. Little’s deployment to South Korea in 1951 and rarely spending a day apart from that day on.
When Mr. Little and his brother Francis opened a gas station in Tarboro, N.C., in the 1960s, the city became a permanent home for Mr. and Mrs. Little for the next more than 50 years. Mrs. Little worked first in a shirt factory, steaming shirts to wrinkle-free perfection, and later Mayo Knitting Mill, where she earned a reputation as the fastest employee to fold and box a dozen pair of socks. (For years, her grandchildren, as children do, disgruntledly opened a box of socks at Christmas along with all of their other holiday gifts.)
Mrs. Little devoted her life to her family. Beyond her husband, the great loves of her life were her two children, Donnie Little Holder and David Ray Little, her three grandchildren, her six great-grandchildren and her four great-great-grandchildren.
Her children recall an idyllic childhood—family trips to the beach and the mountains, the drive-in theater on Fridays, home-cooked meals. Ever-ready to be present for life’s important moments, Mrs. Little made the rounds to see her children and their families during the holidays, could be spotted in the audience at piano recitals and college graduations, and taught her fair share of lessons on how to make the perfect batch of peanut brittle, cheese straws or chicken pastry.
Her productivity was unmatched: When her daughter had her two children, Mrs. Little showed up with farm-efficiency to work. She cooked and cleaned. Channeling her days working in the shirt factory, she pressed everything in the house that had a wrinkle, including the sheets and her son-in-law’s T-shirts. And when every meal had been cooked, every dish washed, every wrinkle lifted, she packed up and went home to wait to be called on again.
In April of this year, however, it would be time for others to call on Mrs. Little—this time at a birthday party organized by her children. She was turning 85 to Mr. Little’s 90. Feeling especially energized that day, before her lungs would take a turn for the worse just weeks later, Mrs. Little looked out among all of her family members and felt overwhelmed with gratitude for such a grand reunion. “My family is so wonderful,” she said. “I’m so happy today.”
Preceding Mrs. Little in death are two sisters, Lillian Liles and Nettie Lou Wainwright, and three brothers, Leon Christopher Weaver, Jasper Talton Weaver and Paul Roosevelt Weaver. Surviving are three sisters, Mina Gray Tarkington, Christine Narron and Josephine Davis, and two brothers Sammy Kay Weaver and Russell Lee Weaver.
Mrs. Little also is survived by a husband, Harold Ray Little; a daughter Donnie Little Holder and husband Thomas; a son David Ray Little and wife Teresa; three granddaughters, Christina Holder Brewster and husband Jon, Bobbie Holder Robinson and husband Kyle, and Mandi Little Smith. Also surviving are six great-grandchildren: Thomas Brewster; Samuel, Lincoln and Olivia Robinson; and Jessica and Crystal Armstrong, as well as four great-great-grandchildren, Michael Sergeant, Brantley and Lily Sparks and Kinley Williams. In addition, the family wishes to express gratitude to April Scott Joyner for the lifelong friendship she shared with Mrs. Little.
A visitation will be held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, at 2 p.m. at First Free Will Baptist Church in Tarboro, N.C., followed by a memorial service at 3 p.m. After the service, a graveside burial will be held for family members at Holly Springs Free Will Baptist Church in Kenly, N.C.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to:
Free Will Baptist Church of Tarboro
3150 Western Boulevard
Tarboro, N.C. 27886
American Lung Association in North Carolina
401 Hawthorne Lane
Suite 110 #298
Charlotte, N.C. 28204