God called Ernest Thurman Hanner, Jr., (E. T.) to his heavenly home on December 8, 2019, at the age of 92. He passed away peacefully at First Health Hospice House in Pinehurst, NC. He was born on July 23, 1927, and was one of twelve children of the late Evie and Ernest Thurman Hanner, Sr. of Chatham County, NC. He attended local area schools and was a life-long resident of Bear Creek. He married Alene Dorsett on August 7, 1945, and was a devoted husband to her for 67 years until her passing on April 19, 2013. Out of their union were born five children, Ernest (deceased), Clarence, Roy, Celatris, and Deborah.
E. T. lived his life looking for the positive and taking on challenges and opportunities without hesitation. In earlier years, he was featured in the local newspapers for being the “first black tree farmer in Chatham County, NC” and before retiring, he expanded this self-employment to become an Independent Forest Contractor. He loved to sing and will forever be remembered for breaking out in song anywhere and at any time. He often reminisced about the enjoyment of singing with his brothers (The Friendly Brothers) on the radio in earlier years.
He was a faithful member of Centennial AME Zion Church and he expressed his love for God through his singing and willingness to serve. E. T. was a member and the Vice-President of the Senior Choir. He served on the Trustee Board and was a former member of the Steward Board, the Building Fund Committee and a former Leader of the Class Leaders.
He was a dedicated member of the Light of the World Lodge 711 in Siler City, regularly attended Tuesday night meetings until his illness. He served as Worship Master of the lodge for many years. He advanced within the organization becoming a member of the James T. Diggs Consistory No. 308 and the El Jebel Temple 97 in Burlington, NC.
E. T. was passionate about his community and his public service to Chatham County. The travels and experiences he shared with others in the community, while he served as a former President of the Bonlee-Bear Creek Savings Club, was a source of pleasure for him. He has won numerous awards including the Chatham Catalyst Award, presented by the Chatham Economic Development Corp., the Social Service Award, an award from the Black Historical Society of Chatham County, and a NAACP Humanitarian Award. He was a former County Commissioner and served on various boards including the Council on Aging, Department of Social Services, Chatham- Lee Credit Union, and the Goldston Medical Center.
E. T. left his earthly home with the same strength and dignity that he lived his life with. The Hash-tag (#ETStrong), being used by his grandchildren, is a testament to his impressive strength. He is survived by his children Clarence Hanner, Roy Hanner (Phyllis), Celatris Hanner and Deborah Smith (Larry) and two sisters, Lucille Johnson and Bonnie Reaves, all residing in Bear Creek, nine grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews, other relative and friends.
We, the family of E. T. Hanner, Jr., thank our loved ones and friends for being here for us during this time of transition. The support that was shown through each prayer, kind act, visit and telephone call has touched our hearts more than we could ever express. We pray God’s richest blessings on each of you, now and forever.
Special Thanks to: Covenant Christian Church, Asheboro, NC for their support, and to Joetta Taylor, Vance McDonald, Sharon Nettles and General Waddell for lovingly watching over “Uncle T” through the night.
You may have seen me struggle
but God never let me fall
No matter if I was weak or not
He helped me to stand tall.
Even though I have to leave you now
and you may struggle through it all
Hold on to God’s unchanging hand
He will never let you fall.
Family being serviced by Knotts and Son_Siler City, NC.
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