Edith Kate Reeves Sims was born February 13th, 1929, 8 months prior to the stock market crash of 1929 that started the Great Depression. Her father, Gilbert "Gid" Reeves, came from a large family of six boys and two girls and later started a dairy farm. Her grandmother, Mary Elizabeth "Molly" Fowler, was an integral part of her childhood and was one of many strong, driven women who shaped her. After the death of Ameziah Rice Fowler ten years prior to mom's birth, Molly took charge of the Fowler estate of 960 acres, just south of Woodstock. Molly raised 2 sons and 2 daughters. Herbert- the oldest, went to UGA and became a medical doctor. Clyde was the postmaster of Woodstock. The youngest, Ruth Irene, was Edith's mother. Ruth had 4 boys and 2 girls. Mom's early childhood was filled with family gatherings with the Reeves and Fowlers. The small town life was filled with work and play with family all living nearby. Gid started growing plants and selling them in greenhouses he built. He later set up a network of connections with stores across north Georgia to provide funeral flowers and Reeves Greenhouses began. Mom was one of six children. She had an older brother, Tom, an older sister Lois, a younger brother John, and a baby brother, Bentley, 12 years mom's junior. Three years before Mom's birth, her parents had Gilbert Jr "Gil" born who died after 18 days of life.
Mom had one other family member that she considered as an older brother. Van "VJ" came to live with the young couple of Gid and Ruth Reeves in the 1920s. The Durham family parents had died and their children were taken in by various other family members. The youngest boy, VJ, was not taken in. Although never formally adopted, he acted as an older brother to mom. The strength of Ruth to do what was best and needed regardless of circumstance was evident, especially considering that the Durhams were an African American family.
Throughout mom's life, she faced many tragedies and tribulations. Through the good times and the bad, mom clung tightly to her family and her savior to endure with strength and grace.
Mom lived through many trying times in history, including World War II. She told of remembering a church service being interrupted by the announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mom's oldest brother Tom was wounded at D-Day and many prayers were given over at her church.
Mom idealized her older sister Lois. In October, 1933, Mom and Lois were standing next to highway five at the Fowler homeplace. Lois' clothes were caught by a passing truck, and she was tragically killed.
Mom's older brother Tom died from a gunshot in 1961.
Mom lost her younger brother Bentley to a car accident in 1979 and her younger brother John also died from injuries from a car wreck.
The strength exhibited by her grandmother Molly and mother Ruth was passed on to mom at a young age and was critical while navigating loss.
Mom had many friends at Woodstock Elementary School, which burned down during her time there, and they attended school at her church. She went to Canton High School, and there met her future husband, Pierce Sims.
On August 16th, 1942 at 13 years old mom met her Lord and Savior and joined Woodstock first Baptist church. Her faith led her throughout her life.
After high school, she went to Georgia State College for women in Milledgeville, Georgia, her mother's alma mata. After attending GSCW for one year, her eyesight failed her and she became legally blind due to a genetic eye disease (Best Disease). Returning home, Mom took up her time with Pierce. Not long after her return Pierce and Edith married on April 24th, 1948 when Mom was 19 years old. They lived a short time in Aunt Martha's house while they built "the brick house" next to Edith's parents house. Dad had worked as a typesetter for the Marietta Journal, but started working for the florist business. Like many young couples, they faced struggles while starting their life together including Mom's new car being stolen and never recovered. Dad worked at Baker & Son as a florist and they pinched pennies to make ends meet.
Just before her 21st birthday, a daughter, Deborah, was born. The I came 1 1/2 years later. Deborah and I remember how Dad had his own flower shop in Canton, and he worked hard to provide for his family, but as with many young couples, money was scarce. Deborah and I remember the times of growing up in a family compound. The neighborhood cousins and friends always at our house. The birthdays and Christmas at Grandmother Reeves. The swimming trips to Noonday Creek. Riding with Mom (who was legally blind) and navigating for her. The fish frys at Carl and Villa Dunn's, the huge meals surrounded by every kid in the area, making taffy, and how our Mom known as "Aunt Sissy" to our cousins and neighborhood kids make life fun and an adventure.
Mother often talked of visiting the elder women of Woodstock and helping with their needs. Mom was so oriented with Woodstock that she assisted the 1940s census.
Mother's grandparents had a house in Woodstock and one in Sarasota, Florida. Her parents continued with an annual pilgrimage to Florida. So, we always made our way to Flordia beaches on two lane roads in an un-air conditioned car with two or three extra kids tagging along. The radio did not pick up, so mom and dad would sing. We sang songs like "I wore a tulip and he wore a big red rose", "We take a leg from some old table, an arm from some old chair. I'll take a neck from some old bottle, from a horse I'll take some hair, and I'll put it all together with the aid of string and glue, and I'll get more loving from that gosh darn dummy than I ever got from you! Get out and walk!", "looking through a knothole in Grandpa's wooden leg" and a never-ending of "There's a hole in the middle of the sea".
She cooked and prepared large meals of wild game for Dad as it was his favorite. She even retrieved a large snapping turtle from Bank Hook's on Rube's Creek that provided ten pounds of fried turtle meat. Mom was rarely shaken when I had many trips to the Emergency room for injuries. I remember sitting in the kitchen and announcing to mom that I had cut off my finger.... again. And she said "oh" and threw me a towel and told me to go see Dr. Boddy.
Deborah remembers how clear it was from an early age that the gift God gave mama was "caregiver". If you listen to the examples like helping build churches, Meals on Wheels, running to the hospital every time one of the children were sick or hurt, caring for Miss Kate, our widowed neighbor for years, rocking all our babies while singing, "1 and a 2 and a 1 and a 2" , the list could go on forever.
But what was clearer than anything was our mama's love for our daddy. Everything she did , wore, cooked and bought was clearly to please and show her undying love for daddy. When mama and daddy were around us together all you could see was the respect, admiration, laughter and pure love they had for each other. This love gave our family and each of our own families a foundation of love for God and love for each other. There is no greater gift she could have given us.
Connie was born when Mom was 30 years old. Connie fondly remember how mother and dad were characters. From our earliest memories of mom to the most recent memories, she was always giving. Throughout our childhood mom cooked for and bought groceries for Miss Kate Hillhouse who lived across the street from us. Mama would even leave her window cracked at night because Miss Kate didn't have a phone and when Miss Kate was scared or needed something she would stand on her front porch and holler for my mama and she would take off running to make sure everything was okay. Then just this past Saturday, when mama was alert she was surrounded by her grandchildren who were singing, laughing and reading scripture together. Even in her last alert moments, she was lifting her families spirits by comforting her family. Above all, mama taught us to care for others and put God first
Mindy was born 3 years after Connie and she recalls being home with mom one afternoon when the pressure cooker exploded. Mindy thought for sure that mom was goner, and sat quietly listening for signs of life coming from the kitchen. When she finally got brave enough to look into the kitchen, mom was hopping around frantically and pulling roast from her hair.
Mindy, the baby, was known to be a bit of a handful, and when she would push her buttons and mom would say "Lord, if you had been our first, you would have been an only child".
Mindy remembers her greatest advice was mom always telling her that when you don't think you possibly can do something "you just back your ears and do it".
Dad moved his flower shop to Woodstock in the 1960s where mom continued to work with him, as she did in the Canton shop. Dad's shop was always a lively place and mischief was never far away. They built their new house on Hwy 92 and grand kids became the order of the day. Trips and gatherings and meals and birthday parties and gifts were constant happenings.
My name is Chelsea Sims Leming, and if you knew Grandma for any length of time, you have probably heard of my cousins and me. Maybe not by name but definitely by number. WE were the 11. The 11 grandchildren she told every cashier, waiter, and bag boy about...whether they wanted to hear it or not.
We, the 11 grandchildren of Pierce and Edith Sims, although vastly different, are bound together by our memories of and love for this precious lady we are here to celebrate today. She taught us all so many lessons. Many more, of course, then I'll be able to encapsulate today, but the 11 of us wanted to honor her by sharing some of those memories and lessons today.
One great lesson to learn from her life was of her optimism and fortitude in overcoming adversity. As you've heard, Grandma faced a seemingly unbearable amount of tragedy and hardship in her life. She lost every single one of her siblings tragically, was declared legally blind in her twenties and therefore could not drive, lost her beloved husband at the age of 62, and faced numerous health challenges in her later years. NONE of this stopped her or even slowed her down. Despite all these hardships- disability, loneliness, health problems, she never found those to be an excuse. Instead, she would always be quick to tell everyone that "she didn't see any use in giving up or slowing down and that "she was doing pretty good". When she returned thanks at our family gatherings, she always thanked God for her family and proclaimed thankfulness that she had lived a good life.
Grandma was a strong woman. She came from a long line of strong women, and she produced a line of strong women. The eleven of us could never identify with the picture of a grandmother in a rocking chair, wringing her hands or living in fear. For our Grandmother was likely somewhere in a canoe in the jungle ofNicaragua, or building a church in Alaska, or petting a baby elephant, or maybe riding a camel. I attended several mission trips to build churches with Grandma, and even in her 70s she could be found passing out drinks, picking up scrap lumber, and cleaning the job site. At an age when she could have chosen to stay at home cooking and cleaning, our grandmother was working on job sites keeping up with men half her age. She worked tirelessly at her church, Woodstock First Baptist, for as long as her body and mind would allow- making meals, singing in the choir, visiting shut ins, and helping in any possible way she was able to. Her heart lived to serve and we will never know how many lives she touched throughout her life.
Grandma was a generous person. Her refrigerator was always full of pictures of missionaries she supported. She helped fund the building of numerous churches across the world, traveled herself and served and gave, supported her home church faithfully, and personally changed many lives by her willingness to give freely of her resources. She was always there to help and support her children and grandchildren, helping in any possible way she could. Jesus said where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, and that was so true for Grandma. Her heart and treasure lied with her family and her faith in Jesus Christ.
Ours was not your typical Grandmother. She was the epitome of "she believed she could, so she did", and I know all our lives were changed because of that example.
Grandma, who actually went by many names: Grandma, Grandmother, Moo Moo, and Mudder to name a few, was a woman who loved and loved big. She loved her family and was so proud of every member of our large brood. She gave us all a very powerful gift, the gift of time spent together. So many memories of Grandma and our family flood over me as I look back at my childhood.
- Loud and crazy Christmases running with cousins through mounds of presents
- Spending the night with Grandma and raiding her dishwasher full of candy, watching wheel of fortune and eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast
- Way too many memories to include from our yearly beach trips, drip sand castles, riding the big kahuna waves, late night card games where Grandma would conveniently remember new rules when they were to her benefit, sea food feats, big breakfasts, dominos, spoons, and charades, roller blading and bike riding, the look of terror on the hostesses face when we would enter a restaurant and say “Sims party of 25”, late nights walking on the beach and just being together.
- Trips to Helen spent tubing, riding paddleboats and the water slide, pop its, and way too many Jolt Colas from Betty's Country store
- Hearing Grandma talk about Jesus, feeling the prayers she stored up for us, watching as she lived out her faith.
- Egg hunts and birthday cakes and Christmas eves, and shopping trips, and card games, and bumblegum, and thoughtful presents, and so many more memories made possible by one amazing woman wrapped up in a little 4'10" package.
Of course each of us grandchildren hold our own special memories of our Grandma.
Denise remembers that anytime she would ask Grandma about what she thought about what Denise or someone else was doing, she always said, "everybody is different and have different ways of doing things. The best thing you can do is let them do what they feel they should, because the only thing you can control is your decisions, not others."
Daniel fondly remembers when Grandma would take him to the hardware store to get pellets for his pellet gun, and also recalls when she used to chase him with a hickory to wear him out.
Jennifer remembers when Grandma told her all about Daniel when he was little and how much she and Pawpaw loved it when Daniel would spend the night.
Delaine said that Grandma was a role model and best friend to her and that she could absolutely tell her anything and Grandma would never pass any sort of judgement. She said Grandma always told her if you put God first in every decision, relationship, and situation that it will all work out. If she was upset, Grandma would say, “now honey...it's alright... it will all work out, Gods got it all handled.”
Amber said one of her earliest memories of Grandma was riding in the car with her, when Grandma could still drive, to deliver meals on wheels to elderly people. Amber remarked how appropriate that her earliest memory of Grandma was of her setting an example of serving others and giving your time. Amber fondly remembers staying at Grandmas house when she was sick, and how Grandma would fix a bed on the couch, bring her all her favorite treats and let her watch cartoons all day.
Amber also remembers all the mission trips she went on with Grandma to help build churches. Each mission trip was special and whether they were staying in army barracks, a church members home, or even a renovated shelter across from the church, getting to spend those times with Grandma was priceless. Amber says she will never forget all the places she got to see with Grandma and all the laughs they shared. Amber remembers coming home from college and Grandma insisting on going to the grocery store so that she could buy Amber some of her favorite things to bring back to school.
Above all, Amber says she will remember that in all her memories, Grandma was such an awesome lady. Grandma set an example of a strong woman, who loved God, loved to give to and serve others, and of course a woman who loved nothing more than to spoil her grandchildren.
Dusty remembers after one of our cherished weeks at the beach together, coming home and helping Grandma get her luggage into the house. He says, although he was pretty young, he vividly remembers Grandma getting tripped up and falling head over heels over her suitcase. He said she just yelled out, “oh dear” as she toppled over. Dusty says he always knew Grandma was serious about something if she said “oh dear” or “fiddlesticks”, and I don’t think any of us can ever hear those expressions without thinking of Grandmother.
Seth remembers how Grandma loved to spoil us with her treats in the kitchen and with our family feasts. From the best brownies you’ve ever eaten to Reeves ketchup and especially with her legendary punch tea, Grandma always had a treat to share every time you went to see her.
Autumn remembers when she was a little girl and would stay with grandmother that Grandma would make the best cheese toast she had ever eaten. No one could make cheese toast as good as grandmother. She also remembers when grandmother was having a hard time climbing backwards out of the backseat of a car on vacation. Autumn so wittingly started saying “beep, beep, beep” as she backed up. Autumn says grandmother got so tickled that she had to tell her to stop or she was going to wet her pants.
Grandma gave me an extra special gift because she was the one who introduced me to my husband when she took me along on a mission trip. She always loved to joke with me that she had known Jason longer than I had, and would exaggerate saying that she practically raised him. I think though, this was one of my favorite things about Grandma… everyone belonged to her and she never met a stranger.
One other moment I shared with Grandma that really impacted me was when I was in college and struggling with my decision to change my major to education. As a recovering overachiever, I was jealous of the reaction my friends would get when they would proclaim that they were studying to be a veterinarian or lawyer, and falsely felt like being a teacher was in some way small or insignificant. That summer, I took Grandma to the dermatologist, and as the doctor came in, she introduced me as one of her 11 grandchildren as she always did, then she told the doctor that I was going to “make a teacher” like it was the greatest thing she had ever heard. There was never any doubt that Grandma was proud of each of us.
One of Eden's favorite memories of Grandma was the first Christmas Eden brought her new boyfriend, now husband, William, to be with the family. A Sims Christmas is no small affair. Over 30 people crammed into one house giving presents and eating. The volume is enough that you have to shout to speak to the person sitting next to you. Eden described it as loud, happy, and full of love and chaos that is sure to be overwhelming to newcomers. The family had gathered around and Grandma said a sweet prayer, the food was served and it was dessert time. William had gone to get his portion and crossed paths with grandma. She was holding a new plate and silverware and as William walked passed, Grandma swatted his behind with the plate. When Eden saw it, her jaw dropped as she heard Grandma say, "Oh, you know, we do that around here." Side note: Eden adds, we don't really do that around here. You never knew what would happen with Grandma around. Eden will always remember Grandma's ready wit, ever present smile, sweet laugh and catchphrases. Grandma was loved by so many, especially by those blessed enough to be her grandchildren.
Molly said when she was 16, She was dating a boy She wasn't supposed to and fighting with her parents a lot. One night, Delaine, Mudder and Molly stayed up late talking and Mudder told a story about her and her friends stealing watermelons out of people's fields at night. She was the lookout while her friends would roll watermelons down the hill to the car. They all laughed, but eventually Molly asked her what this story had to do with her being in trouble and she responded with her typical mischievous look and said, "you can do a lot of fun things as long as your daddy doesn't catch you".
Molly also remembers, like her mother Mindy, that any time She faced anything challenging, from doing what she was told as a kid, to facing her parents divorce, to navigating finances as a very poor young adult, Mudder's advice on the situation always stayed the same. "Back your ears and do it." Molly says although she didn't get what Mudder meant for a long time, she finds herself repeating those words a lot these days and trying to face things with the same courage, grace and determination that Mudder always has.
Zach remembers how Grandma was always making us laugh. Whether it was a slightly inappropriate comment to a passerby or one of her hilarious stories. He says the hardest he ever laughed was when he was around Grandma and our family at our yearly weeks together at the beach.
Zach also said that he can't even count the amount of times she told him "you've got to make hay while the sun is shining." He says that although that didn’t mean too much to him as a kid, that now as a provider for his family, he couldn't be more thankful for those words.
What a legacy this sweet lady has left us, and perhaps the most wonderful thing is that her legacy does not end today. The Bible says in Exodus that God will show love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. So Grandma's faith and love for Christ will continue to be felt by our descendants for many, many years to come.
This principle lines up perfectly with Grandmas favorite verse Psalm 71:17-18
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.
Our matriarch may be gone from this earth, but we will carry all these memories and lessons with us throughout our lives, and honor her legacy by continuing to proclaim Gods power and might to future generations just like she always taught us.
Mom's life had always revolved around church, as a 75 year member, she devoted herself to church activities. When we lost dad in December of 1991 to lung cancer, she moved across the road to Cobblestone and her world travels began. She went all over the US with Builder's for Christ, often taking grand kids with her. She traveled to Africa, Thailand, Europe (where her purse was stolen in Paris), but her favorite was Nicaragua.
She talked of riding a jet, then a small plane, then a truck, then a canoe to get to the construction site.
Our unofficial and approximate count was 43 trips.
When she could no longer travel, she continued to serve from home. She sponsored many missionaries and paid for a student named Gay to attend nursing school in Nicaragua.
She spent the last 40 months of her life at Hidden Lakes Assisted Living where she was known for her Domino, Bingo and card playing, her smile and her speed run using a walker.
Mom has touched so many lives, she continued the traditions of a Southern woman, she loved her friends, neighbors, family and her savior.
Although she never moved very far from home to home she always took home with her where ever she was.
Welcome home mom, welcome home.