A Life Lived: Arvella Greenwell ‘danced as if no one was watching’

Published 8:36 am Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Arvella Greenwell’s priorities were simple: Love God first and everything else will fall in its proper place.

Arvella died April 11 at the age of 95. She had enjoyed a full life, marrying the love of her life, Sandy Greenwell, when she was 18. She was a World War II bride. Arvella and Sandy had met while attending school at Watauga Academy in Old Butler, although their families had long known each other.

Her daughter, Deborah Jones, said her mother and father were as much in love when they grew old as the day they were married. One could say life was a waltz for the couple as they found joy in working together, raising two daughters, traveling, and always, dancing. They stayed in step with each other.

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For a long time, Arvella and Sandy were members of a square dance club. “They also enjoyed classical dances, too,” said Arvella.

“My mother had a kind, gentle, loving spirit, and she enjoyed her family, friends, and especially, her church family. She was a very upbeat person, and almost everything made her happy. She always looked on the bright side of things, refusing to be discouraged. I think that was because she had a strong faith and loved unconditionally,” said Deborah.

“The simpler things were, the more my mother enjoyed them. She enjoyed a stimulating conversation, a cup of tea, and a good book. As long as I can remember my mother enjoyed reading, and she enjoyed different kinds of books — from historical to romance. Almost everything, if it was good, made her happy,” said Deborah.

Arvella was a long-time member of First Baptist Church, Elizabethton, and was a former Sunday School teacher in the children’s department.

She worked in the family business at Nor-Well Plumbing for probably 50 or 60 years, Deborah shared. “She always had my daddy’s back and was at his side, always supportive of him. There was a genuine love between them.”

Arvella enjoyed being with friends. She was a member of a birthday group, which enjoyed getting together when one of them had a birthday and celebrating the occasion.

“I think my sister, Sharon, and I were blessed to have had the wonderful parents that we did. My mother made every day count, and she especially taught us the importance of family and friends. She often would say, ‘Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless,’ meaning they can come back to bless over and over again,” Sharon shared.

Her final years were spent at Sycamore Springs Retirement Center, where she had a host of friends.

Perhaps Arvella Greenwell knew well what it means: “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching. Love like you’ll never be hurt…” And, she did just that, endearing herself to her family and others.