Barbara “Gram” Wilson, 76, passed away on February 20, 2023. Gram was the matriarch of a small army, which is why she adorned the secret nickname of “Sarge”, it being a secret because none of her soldiers were brave enough to say it to her face. She ruled her roost not with an iron fist, but a wooden paddle.
Her “wheels” kicked into gear on August 13, 1946, but it wouldn’t be until 1966 that the most impactful part of her life began. Her surviving husband of 56 years, Joel Ellis “Grandy” Wilson, tells of their first encounter: “She wore a floral shirt tied at the waist, blue jean shorts, curlers in her hair, and a scarf tied atop her head. She was mowing the front yard when I turned my ’55 Chevy around to say hello. Barbara wouldn’t give me the time of day.” She would later seek Joel out at church, and their relationship would blossom months later. Her established family is incredibly grateful for this change of heart.
Barbara was an avid hiker, and would often whisk her family away on explorative “excursions” across the United States. It was her idea to cook a whole chicken in her husband’s backpack while they scoured the hills of Mt. Laconte. Her other culinary delicacies included biscuits, spaghetti, hamburger steaks, chicken noodle soup, and tuna fish sandwiches. She was a firm believer that too many cooks spoil the broth, and would escort you out of Her kitchen with her signature Look. She’d then serve you a plate with all the “fixins” like the gracious host she was. If you were lucky, she’d even give you a fair warning before loading your plate up with seconds.
Gram loved her Lord and Savior, grandkids and great grandkids, dogs, and the Ole Miss Rebels, in that order. She was a fixture at just about every ball tournament in the tri-state area, often adorning homemade popcorn in her signature Gram Bag. She was a lot of things: the family photographer, weatherwoman, librarian, chauffeur, and news source. You never had to watch ESPN because Gram already had, and she would happily give you an update in the world of sports (whether you asked for it or not).
Her life was lived best described by a quote from one of her most cherished boos: “Love is the most practical thing.” Her heart worked just like that, on the standard that everyone was deserving of her love, time, and energy. No one ever accused Gram of being too fancy, and she never expected you to be, either.
In addition to her husband, Barbara is survived by her sister, Betty Stoupe, of Asheville, NC. She also leaves behind four children, Tracy (Stephen) Christian of Lawrenceville, GA, Shannon Wilbanks of Nesbit, MS, Danny (Cylinda) Wilson of Atoka, TN, and Quin (Jennifer) Wilson of Saunton, VA. From those children, she had 14 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers to the family, she asked that donations be made to the Tunica Humane Society, an organization whose story she adamantly followed and donated to.
The world shines a bit dimmer every day she isn’t in it. With this knowledge, she would encourage everyone to look for her in the quiet moments – a cardinal in the yard, a family of deer in the tree line, or a tree with leaves turning in the fall. Her family will continue on it this trying time just how she would have wanted – together.
We love you, Gram. Hotty Toddy.