What better day to write a memorable tribute to Uncle Berley than his birthday? I write this in celebration of the man who left behind a host of those who adored him.
Berley Alton Powell, the son of Berley Arlo Powell and Letha Marie Bedwell, was born 74 years ago today, on 10 April 1938, in Marion County, Mississippi.
He served in the United States Army. He married Gertrude Simmons, daughter of Woodrow Wilson Simmons and Susie Johnson, on 20 June 1959 in Columbia, Marion County, Mississippi. From their union, two daughters were born- Pamela Kay and Deborah Gay. The daughters resided with him after he and Gertrude divorced in 1967.
In October 1968, Berley married Melonee Ratliff, the daughter of Marshall Ratliff and Ouita Terrell in Columbia, Mississippi. Together they had one daughter, Lucretia Fay. Berley and Melonee divorced in 1974.
As a young adult, Uncle Berley was diagnosed with Chrohn's Disease. He underwent multiple surgeries due to the crippling effect of the disease on his gastrointestinal tract and other body systems. Later in life, Uncle Berley was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He went through more surgery followed by chemotherapy with successive results. Through it all, Uncle Berley always maintained a positive outlook and heroic attitude. His declining health forced him to retire early yet he wasn't one to sit in a rocking chair and allow his life to pass him by. He stayed active as much as possible and enjoyed taking trips on his motorcycle. Uncle Berley loved life. He loved the outdoors. He would take a sudden notion to get on his motorcycle and just ride.... nowhere in particular, just wherever the road took him. In his younger days, he enjoyed camping, boat riding and skiing.
Uncle Berley also enjoyed playing card games, board games and yahtzee. My husband, my father and I have played Mississippi Rummy with Uncle Berley on countless occasions. We had so much fun being together-eating, drinking coffee and acting goofy.
Uncle Berley was such a jewel in our family. Not only was he a frequent visitor at our home, but Uncle Berley attended birthday parties for our children and grandchildren, attended baby showers and wedding showers and family dinners. His sense of humor captured audiences wherever he went. I remember this all so well. A couple of his favorite lines were "I'm glad you got to see me today" and "I know it's hard, but ya'll try to be as good as me". I believe that Uncle Berley's sense of humor and zest for life is what kept him going all those years.
Above all else, Uncle Berley loved his family dearly. His children and grandchildren were the gems of his life. He was there for his daughters from their childhood, through their teens, their marriages and the birth of their own children. He was a strict disciplinarian when they disobeyed him, yet he was their best friend when they needed a shoulder to cry on or some wise advice. He forced them to learn how to do housework, the laundry and cook- and they were grateful for those lessons when they grew up.
The culprit responsible for claiming Uncle Berley's life was an exacerbation, or flare up, of his Chrohn's Disease following a cardiac bypass. I am saddened by the misery such a great man faced during the final days of his life. He did well after the bypass surgery and was looking forward to coming home soon, then he fell ill when the Chrohn's disease flared up and led to respiratory complications.
Uncle Berley passed from this life on 28 March 2006 at the age of 68 years. He was laid to rest in the Pleasant Hill Church Cemetery in Foxworth, Mississippi. He left behind scores of people who adored him and a family who loved him deeply and still feel the pain of his loss.
I am encouraged to imagine that Uncle Berley retains the same jolly spirit he was well known for in his new journey. One thing is certain, there is more laughter in heaven now :)
Tombstone Tuesday: Berley Alton Powell
Tombstone Tuesday: Berley Alton Powell
A photo journal of Uncle Berley:
Berley & Gertrude, early 1960's
Berley & Gertrude with daughter Pamela, c. 1961
Berley with daughters Debbie (left) and Pam (right), Christmas 1977
With grandchildren Meichelle and Dewayne, 1980
With daughters Pam, Lucretia and Debbie, 1990's
"Try this on for size"-
goofing off with one of the ladies bonnets
"I've got the winning hand, try to top that!"
"I'm here, ya'll can start the party now!"
Uncle Berley, 1990's
On his "trike", November 2005
We Love and Miss You, Uncle Berley!