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Elaina Spradley Skinner "SweetPea" Scholarship


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Elaina Renee' Spradley Skinner
November 27, 1990 - February 8, 2014

Every now and then someone special enters our lives, and we know that we will never be the same. Elaina Renée Spradley Skinner is one of those people.  Those who know her best call her “Sweetpea.”  It is a name that has stayed with her since she was born. Some may have resented being called that as they got older, but Elaina never let it bother her.  She has a smile that lights up the room, and the personality to match. She is and always will be a source of great pride to all of us who know and love her, and here is her story.

Elaina was born Nov. 27, 1990 in Ft. Sill, OK.  She was born while her father was deployed overseas in Operation Desert Shield/Storm.  She has an older sister, Jena, who would become her playmate, partner in crime, and best friend over the course of their childhood.  Many times while they were growing up they would disagree and fight over toys, but only amongst themselves. They always had each other’s back.  Once when Elaina was being punished for not doing well on a test, we took away her Nintendo Gameboy.  Jena promptly came into the living room and gave us hers. She didn’t want to play with it, if her sister couldn’t join her. And then there was the time that I tried to sneak Elaina a cookie, and she wouldn’t take it if I didn’t give Jena one too. 

These were our girls.  They loved deeply and fought passionately, with each other and for each other.  Elaina grew up and became a beautiful young lady, and boys quickly came in the picture.  While stationed in Oklahoma, Elaina had a very young little boy who would bring her special gifts.  They were in preschool together.  It didn’t stop there. It seemed like she was never without a companion.  She had many friends too. A member of the Oak Grove Jr. High and High School Band, Elaina met many people and no one was a stranger. She met and befriended almost everyone that she came in contact with.  Her friends made her smile and laugh, and I know that she did the same for them.  

Elaina also has a strong work ethic.  She has had a job since she turned 16 and got her driver’s license. She started as a hostess for a local restaurant and eventually moved to a local pizza shop where she worked until she moved to the coast to be an intern for a coast casino.  It was while at the pizza shop that she met her future husband Aaron.  Aaron and Elaina were inseparable.  They started dating before Elaina started college and were married two months before she graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi in December of 2013. 

The wedding was beautiful and later Sweetpea told me that it was everything that she could have hoped for and so much more.  That is a memory that I will cherish forever.  To make your child’s dreams come true is every parent’s dream.  In January of 2014, Elaina was nominated for employee of the month at the casino where she had done her internship.  They had hired her after the internship ended, and she kept moving up from there.  Her bubbly personality and quick smile charmed everyone that she met, and she quickly moved from one department to the next.  She was being interviewed for a management position before the accident.

On her Facebook page that month, Sweetpea posted that she knew that this would be her best year yet, and she was right. Sweetpea went to her heavenly home on February 8, 2014.  She continues to be a bright light to all of us that had the joy of calling her daughter, sister, friend and wife. We celebrate her life by remembering her in everything that we do.  Elaina’s scholarship will help other’s pursue their dream, and just as she was the recipient of several scholarships while at USM; I know that she is happy to help others get the same type of financial assistance. 

For a brief moment, we held one of God’s own angels in our arms.  We continue to hold her in our hearts and memory, and we take comfort in the knowledge that we will be together again in eternity.  Until that time comes, we will always remember Elaina and the happiness that she brought to so many lives; and for those of us who are fortunate to have been in her presence, we thank God for the time that we had.

Recent donors

Date Name Amount
Feb 02 Kaitlyn Nguyen $100.00
Feb 02 Patricia Lutz Undisclosed amount
Feb 01 Trish Lewis-Clark Wish I could be there in person! Sending lots of love & hugs! ?? Undisclosed amount
Jan 25 Paula Thrash $100.00
Jan 23 Jane Kersh Undisclosed amount
Jan 13 Hattiesburg Orthodontics $250.00
Jan 13 Hattiesburg Endodontics $500.00
Dec 18 Anonymous $25.00
Dec 06 Ben Calhoun State Farm Insurance $750.00
Dec 05 Mindy Altermatt $100.00