OBIT, OBITUARY EARNEST JAMES PAULK, JR
In Memory of
Earnest James Paulk, Jr
Earnest James Paulk Jr., a cherished husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend peacefully passed away on March 25, 2023, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, at the age of 79. He was surrounded by his loved ones and leaves behind cherished memories for his family and friends to hold onto forever. His greatest love was the family that he created with Liz. Whether it was on the farm, playing games, reading stories, swimming in the river and springs, snorkeling the rivers of the Suwannee and Withlacoochee for artifacts, he fiercely loved his family and he found his greatest joy in simply spending time with them.
Everyone who knows Earnest knows he was a man that was larger than life and a supreme storyteller. He loved to spin a tale and share a story of adventure and daring with anyone that would lend an ear. And, to everyone else as well. Earnest had a deep passion for the natural world, cared for his menagerie of animals throughout the years, and tended his various massive garden plots. He loved and appreciated the natural beauty of Florida and Suwannee County and spent as much time as possible in it. Kind-hearted and generous, Earnest always extended a helping hand to those in need, no matter the time of day, no matter the cost to him. His selfless nature touched the lives of many and knew no boundaries. His absence will be felt by all those who knew him.
In 1963, Earnest began his distinguished military career with the Navy on a 4-year tour in the submarine force. He was assigned to the USS Chivo, a Balao-class submarine, fittingly named for the “chivo” or big-scaled goatfish. During Earnest’s time aboard Chivo, she continued to specialize in her role as an opposition force submarine, including specialized mine planting exercises, and was later tasked with servicing warships and submarines out of Guantanamo Bay. Earnest transitioned from his four-year tour with the Navy to Naval Reserves and later to The Army National Guard’s 269th Engineering Company in Live Oak, FL. Earnest served with the 269th for 22 years, during which he served his country during numerous disaster responses and was deployed overseas while our Country was at war. Earnest was a proud veteran, a proud patriot, and humble about his service to this Great Nation. When reflecting on being thanked for his service and sacrifice, he would explain that “A real soldier knows…we don’t serve for the thanks or praise…we serve because it is what we must do to protect our Country and our hard-fought freedoms.”
Born on April 17, 1943, in Ocala, Florida, Earnest was the second oldest of 11 children. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Mary “Liz” Paulk, Live Oak, FL; his two children, Lauren (Philip) Howell, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL & Earnest “Jay” Paulk III, Live Oak, FL; seven sisters, Dixie (Parker) Fagg, Manchester, TN; Mary (Elwood) Bembry, Jasper, FL; Crystal (John) Robinson, Live Oak, FL; Melinda (Charles) Bean, Live Oak, FL; Hazel (Tony) Sanders, Live Oak, FL; Melissa (Waldo) Moseley, Live Oak, FL; Ida (Don) Cribbs, Ocala, FL; one brother, David (Carolyn) Paulk, Madison, FL; his sister-in-law Bonnie (Bill) Paulk, Clarksville, TN; his brother-in-law Curtis (Susan) Hilton, Mayo, FL; numerous beloved nieces & nephews; and his pride and joy, his best buddy, his grandson Hawke Howell. He will always be that Hawk flying high watching over his grandson.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, April 1st to celebrate the life of Earnest at a casual, family reunion-style gathering at Jay’s home at 13989 CR 136, Live Oak, FL 32060. The family will receive visitors from 11:30-3:30 and a brief message from the family and honor of his military service will occur at noon. Lunch will follow.