(MIDLAND,Ga.) Retha Nette Harris Edmondson, 85, of Midland, Ga., peacefully entered her eternal reward with the Lord on the evening of Jan. 29, 2021, with her daughter by her side.
A visitation will be Friday, Feb. 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. EST with a funeral service on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 11 a.m. both at Striffler-Hamby, 4071 Macon Rd., Columbus, Ga., officiated by Rick Martin. Burial will follow at Parkhill Cemetery, 4161 Macon Rd.
Retha was born April 24, 1935, in Randolph County, Ala., the daughter of the late Howard Ellis and Mamie Rudell Prince Harris and a granddaughter of Steven and Ruthie Prince and Robert and Ara Harris. In 1953, Retha graduated high school in Woodland, Ala., thereafter setting off to seek her fortune in Columbus. After moving to Columbus, she continued a relationship with a young man also from Woodland, Wendell Jackson Edmondson. In September 1954, Wendell and Retha married, setting off on a life that was always an adventure. In the same year, Retha began a lifetime career at Southern Bell Telephone Company, where she was a telephone operator, retiring in 1995. Retha possessed a strong work ethic, enjoying decades of work with Southern Bell. She was exceedingly loyal and dedicated to anything she set her mind to: church, family and work. She was a lifetime member of the Church of Christ.
As much as Retha derived fulfillment from her work, her true passion was her family. At home, Retha enjoyed cooking and sewing and delighted in brightly colored flowers. She took particular pleasure in the undertakings of her children and grandchildren. Generally quiet-natured, she frequently shocked other spectators with her echoing cheers of encouragement at the baseball games of her sons. She was similarly devoted to her daughter's pursuits. When her grandchildren were born, even though still working nights herself, she insisted on and treasured being their daytime caregiver. Among the family, she was renowned for her comforting and quieting the babies in her rocking chair, simultaneously delighting and astounding those children who may have thought themselves lucky to survive one of her rocking-chair adventures. She was always an integral part of her children's and grandchildren's lives. Nothing gave her more satisfaction than having all of her family in her home enjoying food together and laughing at stories of antics and anecdotes, some of which she already knew and a few she learned for the first time, but all from which she derived profound pleasure.
Retha was reared in a country community in Napoleon, but surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins too numerous to list. Her cousins were her friends and playmates. There were tight bonds formed with this extended family, a closeness that continued always, chiefly centered around and focused on the church. Over the years, she enjoyed being a part of her cousins' families, enjoying popular events, such as "the cousins' breakfast," gospel meetings with Sunday dinners following, and especially any type of gospel singing, most fondly a cappella gospel music. These gospel songs were sung at all times, whether at work or play. Her wisdom included the counsel that singing would always lift one's spirits. Singing was an attachment that gave Retha even greater joy as her health began to deteriorate: it was something she could always do.
Retha possessed a tender spot for those less fortunate. Her wisdom in that regard was often straightforward and clear, such as: they do not deserve that. She would proclaim she was going to "take up for" those who may be experiencing some type of injustice, and she did. She set her mind to these principles, was fiercely loyal to justice, much like that loyalty to her family, friends and church. Her friendships were those of a lifetime.
When Retha retired from the telephone company, she enjoyed reading and especially reading true-crime novels. This may have been triggered by her personal experience as a young telephone operator being called to give testimony in a murder trial as recounted in Margaret Anne Barnes' "The Tragedy and Triumph of Phenix City, Alabama." In retirement, she enjoyed her home, the flowers in her yard and being integrally involved in the lives of her grandchildren.
Retha displayed an outer demeanor of meekness and quietness while inwardly possessing a strong will and a tireless spirit of dauntlessness. She believed perseverance was often the determining factor in great success. She was always hopeful, no matter the circumstance or odds, and simply never gave up. She wished to pass this spirit on to her children and grandchildren and forever be remembered as a part of their lives.
In addition to her parents, Retha was preceded in death by her loving husband of 52 years, Wendell, as well as recently by her dear sister, Anne Harris Futral. Retha is survived by her three children, Joy Edmondson Hemphill (Robert), Philip Wendell Edmondson and Donald Howard Edmondson (Jackie). She is survived by five grandchildren, Lindsey Edmondson Wright (Brett), Emily Edmondson Sakakeeny (Jordan), Daniel Edmondson, Landon Edmondson Carter (Grant) and Sophie Edmondson. She is survived by one great-grandson, Jackson Wright.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
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