Maurice and Nola Ethridge

The following is one of several Collegeside member profiles written by Donna Smith over a period of several years. They tell the personal stories of some of our long-time members, some of whom are living and some of whom have gone on to be with their Lord. Their personal stories are an important part of the historical fabric of Collegeside.

“A passionate giver” is how Mona Ethridge Copeland describes her dad, Maurice Ethridge.

From his preaching and working with congregations in Florida and Texas through his teaching at Pepperdine to his tenure at Tennessee Tech, Maurice has given of himself to his world. Working in Nigeria through a Lipscomb outreach was possibly his last time to give globally, but he still gives in a big way by continuing to be his family’s rock, according to Mona.

If Maurice is the family’s rock, Nola is the embodiment of a Bible passage dear to the family: I Corinthians 13. “Mom continues to show us the meaning of enduring love,” says Mona.

Maurice and Nola met in Tampa, Florida, where Maurice was leading singing at a tiny church. The couple married in 1956 and worked with various congregations in Florida and Texas while Maurice completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Texas University, his doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin, and his degree in Bible from Florida Christian College.

The couple adopted Becky while Maurice was teaching high school in South Hill, Virginia. They then moved to Dallas, where Maurice taught at Preston Road School of Preaching. While he was preaching in Florence, Texas, they adopted Mona and Monty. Dean became part of the family in Colorado when Maurice was preaching at Glenwood Springs.

Next came two years of teaching at Pepperdine when the campus was still in downtown Los Angeles. It was while they were at Pepperdine and while Nola was working on campus that they came to know the Morales family from Mexico. Elva Morales and son Edgar have been close to the Ethridge family through citizenship struggles and moves to new towns and raising children since that time.

After one more move to Texas, the family came to Cookeville in 1972. Maurice preached at Jamestown and Cherry Creek congregations, and he taught at Tennessee Tech until he retired 25 years later to enjoy his “family and be a grandfather.” A bumper sticker on his car reads, “If I had known grandchildren would be so much fun, I would have had them first!”

Nola and Maurice have nine grandchildren. Becky, who is a nurse, has three boys. Mona has three girls and one boy. Dean, who lives in Harriman, has one boy and one girl. Dean’s sweetest memories of his dad are of his coaching Little League and watching all of Dean’s sports games. Dean also treasures the times he played golf with his dad and says he is trying to raise his children “the way Dad raised his.”

Monty, who moved back to town and opened Mauricio’s restaurant four years ago, speaks of good memories of Collegeside and growing up here. He particularly remembers Teenside retreats at Fall Creek Falls, the skating trips, and good Bible School teachers like Lorraine Maddux.

Nola and Maurice rarely get out of the house now because of Maurice’s health, but she says that “God has blessed us here with friends, caring elders, and remarkable people like Kelly and Patty Campbell.”

Nola speaks lovingly of what Collegeside has meant to her family through the years, including memories of James Murphy with candy in his pockets, Lee and Pat Long inviting families into their home, and preachers from Harvey Arnold to Kelly Campbell.

Another of Nola’s dearest blessings in the church is hearing from friends from all the places they have lived and worked.

“As he was beginning to get sick, Dad once told me that he was not afraid, that he was ready,” remembers daughter Mona. “He knew that God would take care of him even in trying times. He always said that if a burden is too heavy, we should give it to God. We should just tell God that we can’t carry the burden by ourselves.

“Dad continues to show us the way to live. He is our rock.”