Sunday, January 31, 2021

Linda Josephine Simmons Upchurch, 1948 - 2021, Rest in Peace.

Linda Upchurch
by Rod Williams - My aunt, Linda Upchurch, passed away on January 28th.  Although she was my aunt, she was a year younger than me. We were always close.

When we very young, maybe three and four, my family lived with Granny and Linda and her older siblings, Sonny and Aunt Lila, for a few months.  I have one memory of that period.  Momma told me I was too young to remember it, but I do.  Mom had a beautiful blue flowing dress that had applied polka dots. Linda and I would get in the closet and if you bent the applied dots, they would break and you could peal them off.  We did.  I must of got a spanking for that because it sticks out as one of my earliest memories. 

As children, Linda and I usually saw each other a few days in the summer and a couple days around Christmas.  We lived in Seymour, Tennessee and they lived in Sparta Tennessee and that was as about as often as we could visit.  Despite the distance and infrequency of our visits, Linda and I remained close and getting to visit was an exciting time and something I always looked forward to.  

When I reached my preteen years I started almost annual summer stays with Granny and Linda of a week at a time.  We had so much fun.  Seymour was a rural community, a suburb of Knoxville.  Sparta was a small town.  Even as pre teens we could walk the few blocks to town by ourselves. I remember going to the drug store and getting ice cream floats.  

My life at home was more restrictive than when I visited Granny. My family was of modest income and frugal.  We were also very religious and did not believe in dancing or going to movies and certainly did not have trashy magazines.  

Granny and Linda lived just a couple doors down and across the street from a little neighborhood store.  While at home, soda was a treat, but when visiting with Linda we would frequently, daily as I recall, go the store and get a Dr. Pepper and a candy bar and just put it on Granny's account. We also went to movies which was the only time I ever got to see a movie, and Linda had trashy magazines like Redbook and True Romance and Movie magazine.  It was so much fun visiting Linda.

As we entered our older teen years, Linda would come visit me and stay with us also.  I had free use of my mothers car and we run all over Seymour and Sevier County and had fun as teens and double dated some. 

As a young adult Linda moved to Nashville and a few years later after, I got out of the service, I moved to Nashville also. I frequently ate at her house and we went places together, including going out to listen to music.  She was the only family I had in Nashville and we enjoyed doing things together and sharing what was going on in our lives and confiding in each other.  

My daughter, Rachel, was born in October 1982 and Linda's only child, Thomas, was born six months later.  With children only six months apart, we often did things together focused on children, and Rachel and Thomas were close. Linda lived in a big house on Richland Avenue with her husband Richard and Thomas.  Richland Avenue makes a big deal out of Halloween with lots of homes going to great lengths to decorate and the people of Richland Avenue hand out good candy.  Several Halloweens Rachel and Thomas went trick 'er treating together and I spend Halloweens with Richard and Linda. 

We went camping together some and  visited extended family together and I joined them for the Whitland Avenue 4th of July events most years and spend New Years Eve with them at a big party my sister Becky and her husband Dale threw each year.  Other than my immediate family, Linda was the person I was closest too in the whole world.  When I went though a messy divorce and then child visitation issues, Linda was always supportive and a sympathetic ear. I miss her. 

Below is her obituary.

Linda Josephine Simmons Upchurch, 1948 - 2021

Linda Josephine Simmons Upchurch of Nashville, TN, passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her loving family on January 28, 2021. She was 72 years old.

Linda was born on May 15, 1948 in Anderson Co., TN, to Martha Lena Carter and Willis Simmons. Linda was a 1966 graduate of White County High School and attended college at Tennessee Technological University. Linda worked as a gifted administrative assistant for many years at the Kennedy Center at Peabody (now Vanderbilt). Her true passion, though, was children; she was a foster parent for several children, and after becoming a mother herself, cared for a total of 15 children over the years in her home.

Linda was a true southern lady with fiery red hair, a sharp wit, and a mischievous sense of humor. She was the consummate hostess and her home was the epicenter of family life. From wedding and baby showers to eating beans and greens on New Year's Day, no event was too small to be celebrated with gusto and the perfect appetizer.

Linda was preceded in death by her mother and father; sisters Ouida Faye Williams and Lila Jane McCalman; brother Basil Carroll Welch, II; and infant daughter Martha Leah Upchurch.

She is survived by her husband of 40 years, Richard Leon Upchurch; her beloved son, Thomas Carter Upchurch and daughter-in-law Elizabeth Janette Upchurch of Memphis; grandchildren Asher Andrew, Annelise Leah, and Eleanor Nicole Upchurch; a host of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and great-great nieces and nephews; as well as many devoted friends and family.

The family would like to thank all of the friends and family who reached out during Linda's final days to express their love. Due to COVID-19, a memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Susan Gray School, Peabody College, 230 Appleton Place, Nashville TN 37203.

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