Reba Davis Williams
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012
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 lifetime."
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 experience.
"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 grandchildren.
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 home regularly.
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 www.manesfuneralhome.com.
Manes Funeral Home in charge
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