John Ellery Lancaster

Published 6:02 pm Friday, February 1, 2019

John Ellery Lancaster was born on Christmas Day, 1932, and he embodied the warmth and wonder of Christmas every day of his incredible life. John grew up in Chattanooga, graduating with honors from Chattanooga High School in 1951. While studying engineering at Georgia Tech, John met the love of his life, Rocio Rangel. Rocio was one of the first women to attend Georgia Tech, and it was the start of a 64 year love affair. John earned a bachelor’s degree in textile engineering in 1955 (graduating with highest honors), and he and Rocio were married that same year. John earned a master’s degree from the Institute of Textile Technology in 1957, and then he and Rocio began building a family together that included children John Milton, Millie, Rafael and Muriel. John served his country in the US Army, holding leadership roles in the military police and honor guard.

After the military, John held multiple management roles in textile corporations, and he became recognized as one of the foremost authorities in textile manufacturing. In the mid-1970s, John launched his own business in textile parts and supplies, and the family moved to LaGrange, Georgia. Starting from scratch, John build a business that served clients throughout the US, Canada, and Latin America. Civic leadership was a key part of John Lancaster’s life, and he served as president of the Chattanooga Exchange Club, active member of the Chattanooga Geology Club, and he founded the LaGrange Track Club. John was an amateur pilot, lapidary artist, master gardener, astronomer, geologist, musician, civil war historian, storyteller, and avid runner and he successfully completed 18 marathons. Always the mentor and teacher, John taught Sunday School for nearly 50 years, first at Jones Memorial Methodist in Chattanooga and later at LaGrange United Methodist Church. Music was another big part of John’s life, as he performed in the church hand bell choir and local dulcimer group and led countless sing-alongs while strumming his guitar. John storytelling skills were legendary, and every holiday dinner finished with family huddled around the huge dining room table listening to Granddaddy tell a story.

The words “juggerum juggeree, can’t catch me” will never be forgotten by anybody who was lucky enough to hear granddaddy tell his wonderful stories. Decades of New Year’s Eve parties were hosted by John and Rocio, and the parties always climaxed with a long line of revelers dancing to “When the Saint’s Go Marching in,” led by John holding an elaborately decorated umbrella at the head of the line. John Lancaster was a great mentor and friend to all who came in contact with him. Even in his final days, John was inspiring others with kind and supportive words. John went home to sit at the feet of Jesus on Feb. 1, 2019. Our hearts are broken, but we know we will all meet again.

John Ellery Lancaster is survived by wife of 64 years, Rocio Lancaster, of LaGrange, Georgia; children, John Milton (Debbie) Lancaster, of Denmark, Northern Europe; Millie (Tim) Sibbel, of Marietta, Georgia; Muriel L. Cochran, of LaGrange, Georgia; Rafael Lancaster, of Chattanooga, Tennessee; granchildren, David Moore, Rocio Seale, Zachry Lancaster, Hope Lancaster, Eli Lancaster, Brynn Cochran, Cullen Cochran, Katie Lancaster, Oliver Lancaster, Erica Poulus, Adam Moore, Allie Evasco; six great-grandchildren; former son-in-law, Craig Cochran, of Atlanta, Georgia.

A time of visitation and reflection will be held Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Hunter-Allen-Myhand Funeral Home.

A celebration of life will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, at 1 p.m.from the LaGrange First United Methodist Church with the Reverend Blake Trent officiating.

Arrangements for the Memorial Service of Mr. John Ellery Lancaster are by Hunter-Allen-Myhand Funeral Home, 506 Hill Street, LaGrange, GA 30241