At the time of year known as the Winter Solstice, when
the harvest is over and Christmas celebrations begin, Reba Davis Williams died
at her home in Newport, Tennessee, on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, at the age of
101. She had plans to celebrate her 102nd birthday on January 14, 2013.
Williams was born on the family farm off Goodwater Road,
which is now part of the Parrottsville community. She moved to the village of
Parrottsville in 1919 with her family. Her parents were William Lee Davis
(1871-1933) and Lelia Easterly Davis (1877-1967).
She received her degree in the spring of 1932 at
Asheville Normal Teachers College and began teaching the first grade in the
fall of that year at the old Parrottsville School. She taught fifth and sixth
grade at Parrottsville before teaching in Tuxedo, North Carolina for one year.
She then moved back home to Newport and continued her
teaching career at Newport Grammar School, where she taught for 36 years.
"I expected an honest effort from my students and
generally got it," said Williams. "When you stimulate that 'something
special' in a good student, you switch on a twinkle in the eye that will last a
William declared that for generations teaching and
learning were a part of her family, because her father and her brother (William
Liston Davis (1907-1977) were also teachers. The three together taught for more
than 100 years in Cocke County.
Williams' grandfather, Francis Marion Easterly (1820-1903),
was a co-founder of Parrottsville Academy in 1875, and her great-uncle taught
in that school which later became a public school in Parrottsville.
In 2009, this award-winning educator helped dedicate the
Tennessee Division of Forestry Natural Resource Center located in Cocke County.
To recognize her financial contribution to the Center, the Reba D. Williams
Classroom now exists.
Williams credited a life-long study of trees, wild
flowers, and birds that live in our forest to adding a richness to life. She
believed that teaching is a calling, a bit similar in nature to a religious
"Earth's natural resource base sets us apart from
the sun, moon, stars, and other planets in our solar system. Nature possesses a
degree of orderliness that serves as a model for living, and educators must
deliver this lesson," commented Mrs. Williams. She considered all her
students as 'family' and attempted to keep up with their children and
In 1937, she married Floyd W. Williams, and they
celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on June 27, 1987. Floyd's death
occurred December 31, 1987. They were both avid University of Tennessee fans.
Reba D. Williams was a member of First United Methodist
Church, sang in the church choir, and taught in the Junior Department of Sunday
School for many years.
Mrs. Williams was a charter member of the Newport Music
Club for 65 years and enjoyed her piano at home and performed in the nursing
She is survived by a niece Mary Ann Pirozzoli (Charlie)
and a host of students.
Services will be at 7:00 p.m., Friday, December 14, 2012,
at First United Methodist church with burial at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, December
15, 2012, at Oven Creek United Methodist Church Cemetery. Friends may gather at
the church an hour before the services on Friday.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to First United
Methodist Church, 212 Washington Avenue, Newport, TN 37821.
Family and friends may sign the guest register online at
Manes Funeral Home in charge