Obituaries week of April 6
Martha Jo NeSmith Byrd
Funeral service for Martha Jo NeSmith Byrd, 78, was held April 1 at 1 p.m. at Peck Funeral Home Chapel with Gary Beam officiating and Peck Funeral Home directing. Burial was in Salem Cemetery.
Mrs. Byrd passed away March 27 at Hospice of North Alabama.
She was born Feb. 14, 1944, in Cullman County to Addliee E. NeSmith and Florence Moody. She was an accountant and office manager for Advanced Manufacturing prior to her retirement. She loved her family dearly.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Karl Byrd; a sister, Margurite Powell; and brothers, Gerald NeSmith, Benton NeSmith and John Ray NeSmith.
Survivors include her son, Stafford Byrd (Jennifer); grandchild, Rebecca Byrd; stepgrandson, Jones Tyler; stepgranddaughter, Sarah Chambers; and three step-great-grandchildren.
Pallbearers were Shane Byrd, Mark Byrd, Perry Byrd, Kenneth Vinzant, Gage Galbreath and Jimmy Galbreath.
Morrow Reece Murphy
A graveside funeral service and interment for Morrow Reece Murphy, 80, was held March 31 at 11 a.m. at New Friendship Baptist Cemetery with Bro. Earl Holt officiating and Peck Funeral Home directing.
Mrs. Murphy died March 28 at Decatur Morgan Hospital. She was born March 8, 1942, in Mississippi, to Robert Alvin Perry and Opal Agnes King Perry. She was a homemaker for her family and a member of the Friendship Baptist Church.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
Survivors include her husband, Herschell Murphy; sons, Robert Murphy (Jan) and Alvin Murphy; daughter, Shelia Hill (Jimmy); and grandchildren, Dwayne Murphy and Ethan Murphy.
Pallbearers were family and friends.
Dara Dianne Carnell
March 28 Dara Dianne Carnell, mother, Nana and GNE, passed from this life into the home prepared for her in heaven. She was 75 years of age.
She was born in Hot Springs County, Arkansas, July 20, 1946. She was the eldest of three children born to Harold Haun Aldridge and Alma Dean Hampton Aldridge.
Dara Dianne graduated as part of the Class of 1964 at Danville High School and went on to graduate from Calhoun Community College.
Dara Dianne is survived by her husband, Gale Gregory; her two daughters; Mechelle Carter Smith and husband Bill of Gurley and Johna Cole Junkins and husband Tim of Meridianville; four grandchildren, Hunter Johnson, Holli Johnson, Laurin Smith and Cody Smith; and one great-grandson, Kamdyn Matthews. She is also survived by her two brothers, Gary Aldridge and Doyne Aldridge; two stepchildren, Joe Gregory and Sarah Hamilton and husband Sam; and six step-grandchildren, Erik Wisniewski, Benjamin Hamilton, Jordan Gregory, Leah Bradford-Gregory, Madison Gareri and Joey Gareri.
As the utmost people person, she made fast friends with everyone she met. She was quick to offer a kind word and always gave others a reason to smile with her quick-witted jokes. Even though she went through many long years with physical disabilities, she always had something with which to keep herself busy and was quick to offer encouragement to others, many of whom were in much better condition than herself. Her many hobbies included sewing, cooking, gardening, reading and traveling.
Although in her later years she was physically unable to attend church, she was a believer, enjoyed studying God’s Word and was part of a Sunday morning virtual Bible study with some of her family.
She was a proud member of the Transportation Security Administration’s first wave of airport security personnel, protecting Americans following the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. As a lasting reminder of the 9/11 tragedy, she created a historical scrapbook for the Huntsville International Airport. The compilation memorialized the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s initial TSA operations and was publicly shared with TSA personnel from across the country.
She will be sorely missed by her many family members and friends.
Funeral for Dara Dianne was held April 3 at 3 p.m. in the chapel. Interment was held at Johnson Chapel in Danville.
A graveside funeral service and interment for Russell Reeder, 81, was held March 30 at 11 a.m. at McKendree Cemetery with Bro. Phillip Hardin officiating and Peck Funeral Home directing.
Mr. Reeder died March 29 at his residence. He was born May 6, 1940, in Morgan County to Ruby Edgar Reeder and Agusta Dutton Reeder.
He worked as a farmer and was the former owner of Valley Stockyard. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather.
Preceding him in death were his parents and three siblings, Ed Reeder, Mrytle Davis and Edith Garner.
Survivors include his wife, Jane Penn Reeder; daughters, Daphne Roberts (Mitch) and Dana Garrison (Frank); sister, Rachel Self; grandchildren, Meagan Terry (David), Russell Roberts (Madison), Jaclyn Thompson (Josh), Hana Foote (Damian) and Brock Garrison; 16 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Pallbearers were Russell Roberts, Brock Garrison, Ryan Garrison, Damian Foote, David Terry, Wes Archer and Josh Thompson. Honorary pallbearers were Dewayne Prater, Billy Don Ryan, Mitch Roberts and Frank Garrison.
Lillian Gilbert Evans Whitney
Lillian Gilbert Evans Whitney, 93, of Hartselle died peacefully in her home March 25.
She was preceded in death by her parents, James Paul Gilbert and Henry Lela Taft Gilbert; two loving husbands, John E. Evans Jr. and Ray Whitney; son-in-law, Hal Roberts; and stepdaughter, Linda Thompson.
She is survived by her children, Lela Roberts, Alice Evans and John E. Evans III (Cammy); grandchildren, Shelly Thompson, Alison Roberts, John E. Evans IV (Tessa), Ben Evans and Andrew Evans; great-grandchildren, Lily Evans and Liam Evans; special friends, Sharon Bryant, Jane Clark and Tina Flowers; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and others she adopted as family.
Lillian’s life was one best described as one of service. At 15, she learned to drive with a large, flatbed truck, receiving her hardship license. She used that license and flatbed truck to deliver groceries to the Sumiton community for her parents’ business, Gilbert’s Mercantile. It was a manual transmission, and she was so small she had to stand on the clutch with both feet. She delivered groceries for Gilbert’s Mercantile from the time of earning that license until she left home.
She graduated from Dora High School with honors and continued her post-secondary education at Birmingham Southern College. She was the first and only college graduate from the family, earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a double minor in English and social studies. Her parents instilled the importance of service and education, having only a fifth- and sixth-grade education between the two of them.
She was raised in the Sumiton Methodist Church, where she was in the church choir and developed her love of singing alto.
While in college, Lillian was on the tennis team and was a pitcher for the girls club softball team. She pitched at least one no-hitter game. John E. Evans Jr., who eventually became the love of her life, first saw her while she was playing softball. He relentlessly pursued her until she accepted his fraternity pin.
Upon graduation, she accepted a job at the new Decatur High School while he finished his last year of college. She taught there a year before returning to Birmingham to marry John.
Lillian taught physical education, social studies and English in various schools in the Birmingham/Jefferson County area. She also served as a cheerleading sponsor, coached girls athletics and helped with other school activities, such as the Annual Staff and beauty pageants.
She kept an eagle-eye on her brother-in-law, who was one of her physical education students at Robert E. Lee. She also served as an adjunct instructor at Alabama Christian College’s Birmingham campus.
In 1958 she and John welcomed Lela Ann and soon after Alice. Aug. 9, 1964, together she and John were baptized and began a lifelong commitment to the church.
As the girls grew and got involved in Girl Scouts, Lillian served many years as Girl Scout leader or co-leader. Her Scouts affectionately called her Mama Lil. She spent countless hours taking the troops through various nature experiences.
They were surprised with the arrival of their son, John III. Soon after his birth, Lillian left public education and, after substituting in many schools in the Jefferson County area, began teaching at Jefferson Christian Academy, where she taught English, math, typing, social studies and any other subject they needed someone to teach. She also drove the school bus.
Former students at JCA have expressed that her influence on their lives continues to this day. They talk about how she was tough but always fair. Her own son knew how tough she was as a teacher. She didn’t want to be too hard on him but also didn’t want to show favoritism, and he almost failed her eighth-grade English class. His sisters agree that when she substituted in their classes, she was tough on them, as well.
Later she and John, by faith and out of a desire to help children who were too young to help themselves, sold their home, left their jobs and moved to Cullman to become the administrator and executive director of Childhaven Children’s Home. Lillian was working on her master’s degree at the University of Montevallo, but because of the move was never able to finish. Even though she was an administrator, she spent countless hours assisting “her kids” with school assignments and college admissions and providing them the safety and security many of them had never experienced before.
Before retirement, she welcomed her first granddaughter, Alison.
After they retired, she and John moved to Smith Lake and began working part time at Clear Creek State Park. Together they made significant improvements to the hiking trails there, and Lillian, using her lifelong love of wildflowers, gardening and plants, helped locate, identify and tag flora along the trails.
John passed June 26, 1991, and she later married Ray Whitney, adding many new members to her family. During their marriage, they enjoyed traveling and camping in 40 of the 48 contiguous United States. She also welcomed her first two grandsons, John IV and Ben.
Every summer, Lillian made a special point of bringing all her grandchildren together at the lake and taking them camping. After Ray’s passing, she remained very close to Ray’s daughter Linda and granddaughter Shelly. In 2004 her last grandson, Andrew, was born.
While living in Curry, she became active at Curry church of Christ, where she met and befriended a group of ladies that included Miss Jane. Their friendship was one of those rare adult friendships that seemed to have encompassed a lifetime. They were like sisters.
Even as Mother began to lose her health, the women who helped care for her and their families became part of her family. Plumbers, yard keepers, pest control professionals – even the guy who delivered the gas – and all their families became part of her family.
Over the past few years, she welcomed two great-grandchildren, Lillian (Lily) and William (Liam).
Lillian was famous for never meeting a stranger. She advocated for those she loved and those she barely knew. All who knew her will remember her infectious laugh, sharp wit, brilliant sense of humor and alto singing voice. She expected the best of those around her and did what she could to help them achieve it. Her service to God manifested as service to others.
Graveside funeral service was held Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham April 2 at 3 p.m.
Funeral service for Steven Childers, 55, was held March 31 at 7 p.m. at Peck Funeral Home Chapel with Bro. Phillip Robinson, Bro. Dustin Smith and Bro. Zack Scott officiating and Peck Funeral Home directing.
Mr. Childers died March 29. He was born April 7, 1966, in Morgan County to Milton Burl Childers and Patricia Ann Wallace Childers.
He was formerly employed by Parkway Medical Center as an X-ray tech.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Aldridge and Dora Childers and William and Edith Wallace.
Survivors include his wife, Tina Childers; parents, Milton and Patricia Childers; daughters, Jessica Lanford (Cody), Jennifer Sutton (Derek) and Emily Childers and stepdaughters, Erin Christina Reeder and Celina Danielle Lawson; brother, David Childers; sister, Amanda Childers Campbell (Paul); grandchildren, Raelynn Lanford and Corbin Lanford; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
Twana Gail Clemons
Twana Gail Clemons passed away March 30 at her residence.
She was born May 12, 1958, in Morgan County to David Thigpen and Mary Pratt. She was a homemaker for her family. She loved cats, especially Midnight Max, but loved her grandbabies more. She enjoyed watching horror movies, cooking shows and Andrew Zimmerman Bizarre Foods and listening to country music by Conway Twitty, Reba McEntire and many more artists.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
Survivors include her daughters, Alicia Clemons and DeeAnna Wilson (Michael); grandchildren, Isaiah Roy Clemons and Charlie Grace Hall; one stepson; one brother; and two sisters.
A funeral service was held at Peck Funeral Home April 2 at 1 p.m.
Virginia Ann Johnson Stewart
Funeral service for Virginia Ann (Johnson) Stewart was held April 3 at 3 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Hartselle with Bro. Bobby Ray Halbrooks officiating and Peck Funeral Home directing.
Mrs. Stewart died March 31. She was born May 29, 1934, in Morgan County to Cecil Eugene Johnson and Julia Belle Johnson.
She assisted her husband Frank Stewart III in the ownership and operation of the Western Auto Store in Hartselle for more than 30 years. She was a loving mother, grandmother and Nana.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband of 53 years.
Survivors include sons, James Barry Stewart, Hartselle, and Stephen Johnson Stewart (Cindy), Hoover; daughter, Suzanne Stewart Anders, Hartselle; sister, Mary Cecil Wilkinson, DeFuniak Springs, Fla.; grandchildren, David Stewart (Mary Grace), Danville, Laura Solley (Sawyer), Danville, Allison Stadler (Andrew), Auburn, Forrest Anders, Hartselle, Reid Stewart, Daphne, and Lane Anders (Sarah Ellen), Hartselle; and great-grandchildren, Wylder Solley and Wheeler Solley.
Pallbearers were David Stewart, Reid Stewart, Forrest Anders, Lane Anders, Sawyer Solley and Arthur Peck.
Special thanks from the family to all the loving caregivers who provided for our Nana over the past two years. Also, special thanks go to the team at Hospice of the Valley.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Hospice of the Valley or the charity of your choosing.
A graveside service for Fayteen Cryer, 83, of Decatur will be held April 6 at 10:30 a.m. at Somerville City Cemetery with Bro. Carl Shaddrix officiating and Peck Funeral Home directing.
Mrs. Cryer was born Nov. 25, 1938, in Morgan County to Gene and Myrtle Shaddrix. She died April 3 at her residence.
Mrs. Cryer was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Betty Jean; three brothers, Truman Shaddrix, Dwight Shaddrix and John Shaddrix; and granddaughter, Tina Cryer.
Survivors Include two sons, Michael Keith Cryer and Terry Alan Cryer; two brothers, Dwayne Shaddrix and Carl Shaddrix; five sisters, Maydean Montgomery, Marveline Rusk, Geraldine Smith, Carol Carden and Vicky Steele; six grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.
Pallbearers will be Caden Cryer, Chad Cryer, Travis Cryer, Mathew Cryer, Nathan Cryer and Ryan Cryer.