07/18/2024
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Wilmington, NC – Ella Gray Hester Huffman, 82, of Thomasville, NC, passed from this earthly life after a prolonged illness while holding the hand of her beloved daughter Christie.

A graveside service to honor her life will be held at Sea Lawn Memorial Park in Hampstead, NC, at 1 p.m. on July 27, 2024.

Ella Gray was born in Clarkton, N.C., in 1941, the seventh and last child of Byron Burney Hester and Ila Hayes Hester. Ella was a kind and loving soul with a tender heart for children and the elderly. From an early age, she lovingly assisted her sisters in raising their children and caring for many aunts and uncles in Bladen County, while helping her aging parents.

She graduated as Valedictorian of Clarkton High School Class of 1959. The following fall, she moved to Wilmington, N.C., staying with her sister Lucille, while attending what is now Miller-Motte College, earning her business degree with a concentration in accounting, in August of 1961. Having the personal recommendation of the School Dean, Mr. Miller, Ella accepted her first job with Linprint Company of Wilmington, NC. She was an active member of the Cape Fear Chapter of the American Women’s Business Association for decades. Initially joining in 1962, through the years she served as chapter Bulletin Editor, Treasurer, and Vice President.

As a young mother, Ella dedicated her efforts to her family and assisting her husband in growing their business, Huffman’s Auto Service & Towing. She joined Carroll Herring during the founding stages of Eldercare of Wilmington, serving as the bookkeeper and payroll accountant in 1973. Ella and the Herring family became close friends as both their children and the business grew. Eldercare provided the perfect blend for Ella’s love for accounting and helping the elderly, allowing flexibility for parenting.

Ella founded Huffman’s Accounting and Tax Service in 1979, which continues to serve the Wilmington, NC area, now owned by Sara Jolly, as Cardinal Accounting, Wilmington, NC.

Ella was preceded in death by her beloved husband Paul Eugene Huffman, her parents, and all her siblings: Ralph Hester, Lucille Daughtry, Doris McCall, Edith Clark, David Hester, and Currie Hester.

Ella is survived by her loving daughter, Christie Huffman Bennett (Michael), Step-daughters: Ellen Huffman Zechman, MD, and Paula Brown Huffman. She was blessed to have 7 grandchildren: Timothy Arehart (Shannon), Reese Arehart (Nina), Peyton Arehart Allen (Collin), Ryan Jones, Zachary Zechman, Zane Zechman, and Zebulun Zechman, and 3 great-grandchildren: Chandler Allen, Parker Allen, and Charlotte Arehart.

She also leaves behind a host of beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends who reside all over North Carolina and Virginia.

Burial arrangements are provided by Davidson Funeral Home, Lexington, NC.

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