Edward Freeman Little, 85, passed away at Uniontown Hospital on Friday, December 18, 2020. He was born in Uniontown on October 21, 1935, the only child of Hiram A. and Roxie Virginia (Pierce) Little. They provided him with an incredible foundation for life including honesty, a strong work ethic, and faith in God, traits he would demonstrate and teach throughout his life. When he was young the family built their home together, blasting the foundation from solid rock. His parents continued to live in that house in Uniontown well into old age.
He was a 1954 graduate of Uniontown High School and involved in many activities including hunting with his father, and running track. He was perhaps best known for his prowess on Uniontown’s football field where he started every game, and lettered in the sport every year. He was known by his coaches to be the most fierce 178-pound center they had ever coached. His sporting activities continued into adulthood. He played hoops in local basketball leagues, with many practices and games being held in the gym of the old South Union High School. He was also a .350 slugger, a wide base runner, and played roving shortstop in the Coolspring slow-pitch softball league under the lights.
After high school he went to work for Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania, steadily ascending the ranks to lineman, then splicer, right-of-way buyer, and finally working as a company-trained field engineer. His career spanned 30+ years; he was so very proud of his climb to success within the company, and the friends he made while working there. Those very friends that remain still gather at local eateries for lunch, or sometimes just coffee, and share stories of their working days, and what their families have been up to since.
In his 20s he spent time in service to his country as a Staff Sargent in the Army Reserves, and was involved in various stateside military maneuvers. He carried those experiences into his exemplary personal life and conduct as well.
He met his first wife, Arlene Yvonne Bruno, when she was marching in a local parade as a drum majorette. The two fell instantly in love, even though she attended South Union (a rival high school), and were married in 1955. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to Connellsville where their son Bruce was born. Connellsville did not hold them long, and soon they were drawn back to family in Uniontown. Both were always busy, working and raising their young family, and yet Arlene simultaneously attended post-graduate school. Her education brought them to the Pittsburgh area, and Ed transferred his employment with Bell there while she completed work on her Doctorate in Education. She lost her life at age 30 in an automobile accident, and Ed and Bruce moved back to be near family again in Uniontown.
Ed met his second wife, Shirley Ann Youger, in 1969 through mutual friends. They enjoyed an active dating scene, and were soon married. They made their home with Shirley’s parents on Route 40 in Uniontown. They made steady (and many!) improvements on that home throughout the years. Utilizing Shirley’s nursing background, and his business acumen, they created several successful businesses, including personal care homes, and 2 franchises of Western Sizzlin’ Steakhouse. Ed retired out of those businesses, even as Shirley continued on in nursing. Ed and Shirley also adopted 3 children to raise as their own, giving each love, care and guidance to carry out into the world with them. Together, they worked on the improvements to the family home, as well as those of the children.
For his whole life he was a passionate follower and expert in all things John Wayne. He could name every movie and every actor in it, and often acting as a script consultant, would recite line after line of dialog. In so many ways, he was as big, if not bigger, than The Duke.
To say that Ed was an active member of Third Presbyterian Church is an understatement. He was an Elder, and cared very deeply for the Church and its future. He served on many committees including finance, and he chaired the committee that championed the search for the Church’s current beloved pastor, Reverend Ron Johnson.
He is survived by his wife Shirley Ann (Youger) Little, of Uniontown; aunts Naomi Whoolery and Chris White; uncles Jack Pierce and Vern “Mugs” Pierce; brother-in-law James Bruce and Sandra (Gallagher) Bruno of Brunswick, Ohio; children: Edward Bruce Little (Adrienne) of Norway, Maine; David Allen Little of Uniontown; Michael Wayne Little (Amanda) of Dunbar; and Melinda Mae Little-Rudisell (Patrick) of North Bend, Ohio; grandchildren, upon whom the sun rose and set: Samuel Freeman Little, Colin David Little, Eric Paul Bell, James Michael Bell, George Albert Beal, Nathan Lee Beal, Bethany Ann Little, Michael Wayne Little Jr., Richard Eugene Henry, Chad Ryan Henry, Eric Edward Henry; extended family Amber (Chris) Horn; and many, many great-grandchildren. He is survived by other loving family members both near and far, and by his faithful and adoring dogs, Tucker and Skeeter, and cats General and Cali, who were never far from his side.
He was predeceased by his parents, Hiram A. and Roxie Virginia (Pierce) Little; his first wife, Arlene Yvonne (Bruno) Little; fathers- and mothers-in-law Jack and Irene (McGurk) Bruno; Willard and Bessie (Mickey) Youger; brothers- and sisters-in-law August Samuel and Mary Lou (Bruno) Marotta, Jack and Dee (Sundberg) Bruno; Willard and Jeanne (Riley) Youger; daughter-in-law Mary Kathryn (Hosier) Little; and many aunts, uncles and cousins. While many have gone before, none have left our hearts.
Ed’s family would also like to express their thanks and deep gratitude for all that have helped care for him. They include, but are not limited to: the medical professionals and staff at Uniontown Hospital, Jefferson Hospital, and J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in West Virginia; and all of the therapists, nurses, and others that have visited and helped him be comfortable at home. You have all held our family up in trying times. Thank you.
Well done, Peace to you Pilgrim. We’ll see you soon.