Summary: Eulogy for a Christian woman
I want to thank Rhonda and Chris for the opportunity to remember and celebrate the life of Nan. It was a year and a half ago that we gathered for Eugene’s funeral and home going and now to be able to do the same for Nan is an honor. Like for so many, Nan had her difficulties late in life. She suffered from dementia, losing her short term memory. She dealt with the frustration of a loss of independence and she missed Eugene greatly. But now to celebrate her life and her long awaited reunion with Eugene is a joy and an honor, even in the midst of grief and loss. I think we can say with her: “It’s a beautiful day the Lord has made!”
One of the blessings of Eugene’s life was Nann. Eugene met Nan’s sister Bobbie Bailey at church, and formally introduced himself. Bobbie was not interested but Eugene asked if she had a sister and she said that Nan worked at a store called, “My Shoppe.” He went there with a letter of introduction. Eugene had already made his list of what he wanted in a life partner and he spent his courtship time wooing Nan. She fell in love after she realized he was genuine. Eventually, Nan brought home her foreign boyfriend who grew to love the farm and Nan's large family of siblings. Eugene and Nann were married in Mississippi in 1953 and later moved to Chalmette. They eventually moved to Gretna where they lived for over 40 years. Their favorite Scripture for their marriage was Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” They celebrated 60 years of marriage before Eugene’s death, a feat by anyone’s account. They had an enviable and dynamic partnership of communication and collaboration. They were best friends and partners. They never said a single bad word to each other. They kept disagreements between themselves. Nann was Eugene’s world and Eugene’s was Nan’s world. She was his princess. You never saw them share affection publicly but they had precious love which lasted a lifetime and was evident just by looking at them in the presence of one another. Nan was devoted to caring for Eugene and their children.
Nan was a life long learner always reading the paper and keeping up on politics and world events. She loved gardening, baking cookies and pies, and family celebrations. She was quite an athlete in her day and later in life loved listening and watching LSU football, pro football, and college basketball. I would be remiss if I didn't also mention her love of Pete Maravich. She loved great fashion and colorful styles and encouraged her daughters in this as well. Her life though simple was filled with wonderful small things that helped change people's lives or make it easier for them- praying for others, donating to missions, giving groceries to the needy, and making sacrifices great and small to send her daughters to college and even paying for Eugene’s younger brother. She never took people in the service industry for granted and thanked them for what they did. She was a proud and dedicated American and viewed voting at elections a privilege and a duty since she realized how many lives had been sacrificed on freedom and democracy.
Nan’s life was filled with surprises and adventure. Born into rural farm life in the hills of Mississippi, she was blessed with ordinary and unusual living. She survived a sickly childhood having a country doctor tell Nan’s mom not to bring her back because she’d never see her 7th birthday. She grew to be strong and able for the U.S. Army, where she served from January 1949 to September 1952, ending her career as a corporal. Her duties included food supervision and marching in special parade details. While stationed in Yokohama, Japan, she worked in intelligence statistical collection of military gains/losses during the Korean War. She received the Korean Medal of Honor and United Nations Service Medal. She never thought she’d live long, be in the Army, end up on a ship headed for Japan, marry an Indonesian man, live in the New Orleans area because she’d heard it was sin city, or even travel to Europe to spend time with Eugene’s family. Taken together, all of these things would make for an amazing life but these weren’t the most important things in Nan’s life not did they define her. But she ended up having an extraordinary life because of two things.
First, Nan was a dedicated, caring and loving mother and wife. She lived her life by example. She taught Chris and Rhonda that they were precious children of God. She lived by the Golden Rule, despised gossip and negativity, and believed it was important to always say, " I love you." She provided examples of self confidence and free thinking, and instilled a strong sense of right and wrong. She was a free spirit and continually pushed Rhonda and Chris to go outside their comfort zones through their clothing and by visiting museums and exhibits. Sports were always an important part of Nan’s life and they became important to her daughters as well. She taught them to play basketball and took them to their basketball, softball and volleyball games. She them drove them to the pool almost every day in the summer. She made time to get them to church activities like youth group and choir. She sewed for them, even though she didn’t like to sew. She never missed a school conference or event. She cooked dinner every night, and was involved in every aspect of their lives, bonding with her girls, teaching them by example and sharing experiences and making memories which would last a lifetime, like working in garden with flowers, making cookies, or watching old movies with all three of them laying on a small “loveseat” sofa (changing positions when one of them lost circulation or had a leg cramp, going through a box of Kleenex, crying together for every sad moment or broken heart, or laughing until they cried at every funny moment.