Gladys Byers Combs

Published 10:06 am Monday, November 17, 2014

Gladys Byers Combs, 96, of Elizabethton, Tenn., went home to be with her Lord on Saturday, November 15, 2014, from Sycamore Shoals Hospital. She made this eternal decision, years ago, as a young woman. She was the first of four children born to Dulcie Fox Byers and Theodore Byers. On Dutch Creek, in Valley Crucis, N.C., Gladys greeted the world on August 22, 1918. She was preceded in death by her husband, Tom Combs; her three siblings, her brothers, Claude and Clay Byers; and her only sister, Violet Byers Collins; and one great-great-grandson, Shawn Michael Potter.
She is survived by six children, eight grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, three nieces and a nephew.
Little Mama had six children: Marshall “Bo” Combs, Dollie Harris, Molly Taylor, Sam Combs, Dora Cable and Georgia Combs. A part of her lives on, always, through us….her children. She will continue to contribute to society and the world through her children’s contributions in the following areas: 1) a welder (retired), 2) a book-keeper for a private company (retired), 3) HR employee for a large corporation (retired), 4) a professional chef (retired), 5) an Army Major, commercial airline pilot, currently Department of Defense employee, 6) a nurse (retired), currently, President, founder and author of “The Baker’s Dozen Ministry.”
Mama’s not finished, as there is another generation coming along through which she will contribute … her grandchildren. They are secretaries, power plant technicians, nurses, home health providers, realtors, communication experts, beauticians, teachers, mechanics, photographers and some are still preparing for the career through which Mama will contribute. With Little Mama’s determination and drive, they will make it.
She was a very innovative little woman and would try, or attempt, most anything. It was not uncommon for her children to come home from school and find an interior wall in the house moved or torn out. “Can’t” was not in her vocabulary. She spent most of her working years in retail sales. At one time, however, she had her own taxi cab service. She learned to drive a car at a time in history when that was not very common for women. The motivating force for her taxi service was her husband’s illness. His doctor had ordered one year of bed rest because of his heart condition. She knew the bills had to be paid and the family needed to be fed. Her taxi service took flight when she made telephone calls to people in the community. Both men and women needed transportation to their jobs. Three times a day, seven days a week, she picked up and delivered workers to the Rayon plants in her town. As a small child, I can remember her working on a schedule book to make sure she didn’t forget anyone and leave them stranded. At night, when she made her “shift run,” as she called it, we children were tucked into two, old iron bedsteads in one bedroom.
Mama loved to go to school when she was growing up. Sadly, she was unable to graduate from High School with her class. But, that didn’t make her give up the idea completely. After her children were grown and gone from home, she studied hard, took the GED test and earned her High School diploma. She even proudly sported a class ring. Next, she enrolled in a local business school and earned her degree there. In the late ’80s, she traveled to Germany, to visit a daughter. While there, she and that daughter participated in a 10K run. She proudly displayed her award.
Little Mama had a lot of friends. Most people in Elizabethton knew the little, white-haired woman when they saw her on the street. Especially, if she had her little pickapoo dog with her. “Sweetie” was often seen riding in her car seat in Mama’s little red Honda. Mama had many friends at the Siam Baptist Church, where she was a member. Her newest friends were the ladies at Court Yard Apartments, where she had lived for the past few years. They were truly Angels, who adopted her into their family. One came each morning to put in her hearing aids, and another frequently brought her fried potatoes and cornbread, which she loved. Another brought her chicken and dumplings from Kimbo’s. They all visited with her at the “gossip bench” in the atrium. A granddaughter faithfully came to help her shower and styled her hair. And there were two friends that came every other week and brought hamburgers and onion rings, her favorite.They said they came to clean, however, we knew better…they really came to visit with Little Mama.
Little Mama has been wanting to “go home” for awhile now. Her girls spent many hours at her bedside, keeping watch and occasionally taking a sentimental journey through times past. We saw her snow-white head as it rested on the pillow, her chest as it lifted and fell with each breath, her fail, pale, veined hand as she reached out for one of ours, and we wondered, and we wondered about so many things!
When fall, with all its brilliant color, comes to the Appalachian Mountains, and we see the first snowfall in Winter, her two favorite seasons, we’ll wonder no more. In our memories, we’ll hear her in the call of the whippoorwill, and we’ll see her in the beautiful, colored foliage and Winter’s first snowflakes. (Contributed by Dora Combs Cable)
A service to honor the life of Mrs. Gladys Byers Combs was conducted at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 16, in the Chapel of Peace at Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton, with Rev. Jack Roddy officiating. Music was under the direction of Mr. Bill Anderson. The family received friends in the funeral home chapel from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, prior to the service. The graveside service will be conducted at 1 p.m. Monday, November 17, at Caldwell Springs Cemetery. Active pallbearers will be Wallace Cable Jr., Wallace Cable III, Wallace Taylor, Micky Kyte, George Lilly and George Payne. Those wishing to attend the graveside service are asked to meet at 12:50 p.m. Monday at Caldwell Springs Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Siam Baptist Church, 2414 Siam Road, Elizabethton, TN 37643. Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting and signing the guest book.
Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton, is serving the Combs family. Office: (423) 542-2232. Obituary Line: (423) 543-4917.

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