Born 9-3-1910 -- Died 2-22-2005
Glenna Hope Morton Garner, 94, died Feb. 22, 2005, at Ash Flat Nursing and Rehabilitation Center after being ill for several months.
She was born Sept. 3, 1910, to John and Hattie Booth Morton on her family's farm 3 miles east of Williford in the Martin Creek community. Her early education was in a one-room school (Oak Grove) located 2-1/2 miles from her home.
After completing 8th grade, Glenna was selected at age 13 to serve as a part-time teacher after passing the Teacher's Examination, a series of stringent written school exams that her dad, John Morton, fully expected her to pass. She thereafter received her teaching certificate and at age 18 upon graduation from Willow Springs (Mo.) High School she became a full-time teacher at the one-room schoolhouse in Oak Grove and later in the Caraway area. Willow Springs High School was chosen by her family because it was an accredited school where she ultimately could earn her teaching credential.
Garner began her long-term teaching career at Williford in 1935, serving in both the elementary and high school levels for 25 years. Most of her time there was spent in the business department. Her students were in great demand for hire in the surrounding communities once they graduated from Williford High School because of their superior skills earned under her tutelage. On Aug. 9 in that same year, she married Jesse Roland Garner, sharing many happy years with him until his death in 1954. Their son, Henry Boyd Garner, was born Oct. 16, 1936.
She continued to attend colleges at Jonesboro and Conway over the years, as time and money allowed, finally graduating with her bachelor's degree in 1955. She retired from the teaching profession in 1960, after a span of 30 years, and decided to direct her energy and abilities in a new direction. She joined Cooper Communi-ties organization in Cherokee Village as office manager in the sales department, where she served for 22 years.
During that time, her son met and married Kay Georgene Swanson, a fellow student at Arizona State University. Their children -- Lisa Diane, George Roland and Jess Andre -- became the lights of their grandma's life. They adored her and she never lacked for an opportunity to give of herself and shower them with praise and love. Her priceless gift was the wind beneath their wings as they grew up to adulthood and tried to become the best that they could be, taking her advice and knowledge as their own.
While at Cooper Communi-ties, she became active in several major community projects, serving on the Sharp County Library Board for 15 years. In 1985, she was named Library Board Member of the Year by the State Library Commission. She helped establish the Friends of the Library, an active support group for the county library. She was a charter member of the Sharp County Historical Society and served as its secretary. She held various offices in the County Retired Teacher Association, and remained a faithful and devoted member of the Church of Christ, where she conducted children's Bible study classes for over 60 years.
After retiring (once again) from Cooper Communities in September 1978, she pursued her interest in traveling. She visited Hawaii, enjoyed cruises with family and friends, and took bus trips to various points of interest in the southern and eastern parts of the country. While visiting with her family in Arizona and California, she accompanied them on trips to many places of interest, including the Grand Canyon and other tourist attractions. She was always energetic, fun to be with and interested in the history of the areas she visited.
She became a local author in her later years by supervising, researching and coordinating the printing of several journals telling the history of the area in which she lived and worked. Some of them were Yesterday's Williford, a story of the settlement and past history of this small town in the Ozark Mountains; Hilltop Memories, based on personal interviews with local residents; and a History of The One-Room Schools of Sharp County, a historical account of the county's principal contribution to Arkansas' sesquicentennial celebration in 1986.
Her reverence for life and the value she placed on each person that she came in contact with was apparent in every act of kindness she administered each day of her life. She was the eternal optimist, always thinking the best of others. She was the most self-reliant person imaginable, never demanding or expecting anything for herself.
Garner's years as a teacher affected and made permanent imprints on countless students' lives with her respectful attitude toward everyone. In her estimation, no one was a bad person, just misdirected and needing some guidance.
Everyone knew who Ms. Glenna was and would approach her on the street or in the grocery store with genuine gladness at seeing this person who meant so much to them.
Soon, their own children -- and even grandchildren -- would greet her with fondness and recognition of this person that made such an impact on so many lives.
She was vitally interested in the educational system, speaking up for accountability and respect in the classroom. She had a personal involvement with each student she had, making each one of them feel special and important. Many times, she would speak to fellow teachers, mapping out a plan to get a student requiring extra help on a subject the tools needed to learn and grow. Asked once how come she always seemed to be in a good mood, she replied, "When I walk up those steps to the school and I see all those beautiful faces looking up at me, I just get a smile on my face that stays with me even after the last bell rings."
The world has lost someone who truly loved the people with whom she shared her life, but Heaven has gained a gentle soul who lived her life in such a way as to make us all take a look at her own and know that she would love us unconditionally but yet expecting the very best from us. This legacy reflects the decent, sweet and good life that she led for over 94 years, living in this beloved land nestled in the Ozarks -- now richer beyond belief for having this wonderful lady live out her life here.
Some day we'll each hear the ring of our own final "school bell" telling us it's time to "go home" and she'll see our beautiful faces and greet us with her smile once again...
She is survived by her son, Henry Boyd Garner and his wife, Kay, of Oak Park, Calif.; her granddaughter, Lisa Diane Inglis and her husband, Bill, of Scottsdale, Ariz; her grandsons -- George Roland Garner of Phoenix, Ariz., and Jess Andre Garner and his wife, Karen, from Simi Valley, Calif.; and three great-grandchildren -- Cody James Inglis, Henry Cole Inglis and Molly Adair Garner.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Jesse Roland Garner of Williford; and her sister, Edna Morton Atkinson from Jonesboro.
The funeral was Feb. 28 at Heath Oak Hill Chapel with Dr. Charles Crawford officiating. Burial was at Williford Ceme-tery with arrangements by Heath Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the following organizations in Glenna Garner's name:
Sharp County Library Associa- tion, 201 Church Street, Hardy, AR 72542; Sharp County Historical Society, P.O. Box 185, Ash Flat, AR 72513, Dr. Audrey Thompson, President; St. Bernard's Development Foundation, Auxiliary House, 915 Wilkins Avenue, Jonesboro, AR 72401 (this organization provides low cost lodging for cancer patients); American Cancer Society, 1205 South Madison St., Jonesboro, AR 72401; or a donation to an organization of your choice.