Four score and one year ago, an extraordinary first-born son arrived to blessed parents Robert Lee Sr. and Edna McCurry Elam. On Monday, June 17, 1940, in Gibson County Tennessee, Robert Lee Jr. was born on his parents fourth wedding anniversary. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” (Eph. 6.1) Robert’s early childhood was spent on Pa Pa Edgar’s (West Point veteran) farm of many acres of fruits, vegetables, and animals; and Robert attended a neighborhood grade school. Under the leadership of Bishop Rogers, he faithfully attended Sunday School, Epworth League and evening services at Parker Chapel C.M.E. church. During this time, Robert learned family and core values, work ethics, and even memorized scripture verses to share during dinner. After the death of Pa Pa Edgar (II Cor. 5:8) shortly thereafter the family home burned down.
In 1956, the family relocated to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Robert continued his education at Urbana Jr. High School. On February 18, 1958, when Robert was 17 years old, his father died which overwhelmed him. However, by God’s grace and mercy, he graduated from Urbana Sr. High School while caring for his mom and younger siblings.
While still grieving the loss of his father, Robert met the love of his life Madie B. Sanders. They united in Holy Matrimony and from this union, three wholesome and beautiful children were born. To provide a better life for his family, Robert relocated to Racine, Wisconsin.
Special cousins, Leamos and Lucille Williams, provided support to Robert and his family. Robert was hired at J.I. Case as an air conditioner technician. Robert continued weekly trips back and forth to Champaign in order to provide support to his mom and siblings. Robert and Madie were married for seventeen years. Shortly thereafter, Robert received an associate degree in Human Resources from Gateway Technical College. In addition, he traveled to Africa and started a business, “The Elam’s II” with his brother James. After seventeen years of service, he retired from J.I. Case.
Soon thereafter, Robert returned to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Under the leadership of Bishop, Clarence Buchanan, Robert surrendered his life to Jesus Christ, (II Cor. 5:17), and served diligently in the capacities of “Door Keeper,” (Ps. 84:10), Trustee Board Member and volunteered in the food pantry. Bro. Elam loved the Creator, moreover, of the Beauty within the Creation, (Gen. 1:1) and family. Bro. Elam enjoyed gardening with the proceeds being distributed to his neighbors and the church’s food pantry.
Robert was also an auto mechanic who owned and operated many cars and motorcycles and enjoyed racing them. He had impeccable taste in fashion and loved to travel. Most importantly, he enjoyed the time he spent reading the scripture (Psalm 84:10, The Holy Bible, KJV). His favorite songs of praise were Draw Me Nearer, Going Up Yonder To Be With My Lord, and Never Alone.
On February 3, 2021, Brother Elam was admitted to Carle Foundation Hospital. Prior to admission, sister Deborah provided healthcare for Bro. Bob; however, his health regressed rapidly and painfully. On February 12, 2021, he was transferred to the University Rehabilitation Center for extended care. On Tuesday, July 13, 2021: “His Lord said unto him,” Robert Lee Elam, Jr., Well done, thy good and faithful servant, thou have been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: “ENTER THOU INTO THY JOY OF THY LORD” (Matthew 25:23). Robert Lee Elam Jr. also known as Brother Bob, Brother Elam, Jack Benny, Junior, KAW Killer, Robert, and Daddy “WE ARE MISSING YOU, WE LOVE YOU, AND YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN. WEEPING MAY ENDURE FOR A NIGHT, BUY JOY COMETH IN THE MORNING.” Someday we will understand it all, for now, we have to rely on faith. We WILL remember that God, in His infinite grace, will be with us and will guide us through this time. May we find strength and peace in His wonderful love.
Loved ones preceded in death: Parents, Robert Sr. and Edna McCurry Elam; Grandparents: Edgar and Irma McCurry, Ernst and Geraldine Elam; Sister: Mary E. Clark, Urbana, IL.; Brother: Malcolm B. Elam, Battle Creek, MI; Brothers-In-Law: Jimmie Brown, Champaign-Urbana, IL, Willie Blanton, Champaign-Urbana IL, Charles Clark, Champaign-Urbana, IL, Willie B. Franklin, Champaign-Urbana, IL, Rhea Parrish, Champaign-Urbana, IL; Aunts: Annie M. Lockett, Champaign-Urbana, IL, Lavern Wilson, Lovie D. Seward; Uncles: Booker T. (Ernestine), Ernest (Ezell), L.D. (Willie); Great-grandchildren: Devontae Summers, J’Nyla Jean, Adrianna Westland.
Robert leaves to cherish his memories, Daughter: Valerie D. January, Woodbridge, VA., Son: Robert Elam, Danville, IL, Son: Anton Elam, Lithonia, GA, Daughter: Margaret Byrd, Milwaukee, WI; Siblings: Edna Maxine Brown (Jimmie), Champaign-Urbana, IL, Annie L. Elam, Atlanta, GA, Rev. Edward McCurry Elam (Dorris), Flint, MI, Deacon James T. Elam (Cynthia), Clio, MI, Deborah Ann Elam Lane, Champaign-Urbana, IL; Grandchildren: Valerie, Robert (Sherita), Adrian, Ashley, Robert (Isabella), Johnathan, Antionette, Antaneya, Antaneshia, Alexandria (Lloyd), Daniel, Joshua, Jalyn; 19 Great-grandchildren; 1 Great-great-grandson; Many nieces, nephews, and cousins; special friends: Bruce Green and Ronald Lewis.
Service will commence at 12PM, Friday, July 23, 2021 at St. Luke CME Church. A visitation will begin at 10am Until the start of the service. Officiating Dr. Perrico Robinson
Burial Mt. Hope Cemetery
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