Marie Hawkins Wofford passed away Thursday, June 4th at Oakview Health and Rehabilitation after a brief illness and a long battle against the devastating and corrosive effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. At 89 years of age and a long-time resident of Menlo, she always considered herself a child of Lookout Mountain and longed to return home to Cloudland. She is survived by her sons Steve and his wife Barb of Berlin, Maryland and their four children Beth, Katie, Sarah and Joe as well as Mark and his wife Kim of Tucker, Georgia and their two children John and Erin She is also survived by three additional grandchildren: Josh, Jeremy, and Justin.as well as numerous great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
As the youngest daughter and tenth of the twelve children of Riley and Susie Chisolm Hawkins, family was the driving force in her life. Given the opportunity to attend college through the generosity of a teacher, she returned home to help care for her mother when she became ill.
She married Willie Matt “Bill” Wofford at the age of 27 and became mother to his two young children Bettye and Dennis. She and Bill then had three children of their own, William David,Steven Maxwell, and Mark Franklin. She learned the value of hard work early in life on the family farm and took to heart the words of her father that “any job worth doing is worth doing well.” She worked hard her whole life to support her family until her retirement from Riegel Textile Mill. Even after a difficult evening in the weave room as she finished the second shift, she carried her head high as any proud child of the mountain would.
As a mother, she had no equal. She loved her children more than anything and told them so every chance she could. She was proud of them and instilled in them the importance of hard work and love for family. After the difficult end of her marriage she once said that “the only good men in the world were the ones she raised.” It is safe to say that this was one occasion on which she was mistaken as her sons took the lessons she gave them and with their wives raised good men of their own as well as fiercely strong and independent daughters who have so far chosen their own good men with whom to share their lives.
Throughout her life she experienced many losses as she lived to see three of her children die well before their time. The loss of her sons Dennis and David followed by the death of her only daughter Bettye was a cruelty no mother should experience. Thankfully, the onset of Alzheimer’s,which took so much from her, never erased the memory of her children and the love she had for them.
Despite the many difficulties she faced and the slow and devastating effects of the disease that has affected so many of her family, Marie lived a good and full life. Even with so much taken from her, she could still hear a song that would awaken memories of her youth and growing up on the mountain and the good times she had with her sisters and brothers. Sadly she outlived them all but she recalled them fondly. As she became lost in time from the cruel effects of Alzheimers, she worried about her mama and wanted nothing more than to return to the mountain and make sure she was being cared for as she should be.
Though her death is a terribly painful blow to her family, it does not define her nor does it end the story of Marie and her love for family. We will carry her memory and the lessons she taught us for the rest of our lives. She set a high bar as a parent and we will honor her for that and for the values she instilled in us. She was a beloved grandmama to her nine grandchildren and she was proud of their accomplishments. She will be missed by her great grandchildren that were fortunate to know her and for those who had not met her, great stories will be told and embellished about her. She was and will remain the beloved “Aunt Ree” to her many nieces and nephews. She loved her family and in return was loved by them. She was a child of the mountain and she has finally gone home.
A memorial service will be held for family and friends at a time when it can be done so safely. In lieu of flowers we ask that donations be made in her name to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation https://www.alzinfo.org/donate/donation_form/
The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation
FDR Station, PO Box 220
New York, NY 10150