A Life Lived: Gladys Webb packed a lot of living in her 91 years

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Gladys Webb was 91 years old when she died Oct. 4, and she had packed a lot of living in those years.

Her daughter, April, described her as a very “adventuresome” person, who enjoyed traveling, bowling, and deep-sea fishing in her younger days. “My father was in the military, so my mom traveled all over. She lived in Panama for a stretch and during my dad’s service time, she became acquainted with a lot of cultures,” April shared.

Gladys also lived in Lakeland, Fla., for a time before moving back to Elizabethton some eight years ago.

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Her daughter shared that Gladys was 40 years old when she received her last college degree. She had a degree in the Arts from East Tennessee State University.

As well as being a life-long learner, Gladys was a “doer.” She had read over 1,000 books in her lifetime. Her favorites were mystery crime novels and histories. Gladys donated many of her books to libraries and to charities. In addition to reading, she enjoyed watching the history channel and reading newspapers. “Mother was always up on current events,” April said.

Gladys saw most things as both a challenge and joy. She enjoyed cooking, especially Southern recipes. Among her favorite dishes to make were potato soup, and gravy and biscuits.

She was also a seamstress, and April was quite proud of the fact that her mother taught her to sew as well. “Mom taught me to do so many things — to sew, to drive, and I remember her taking me to the bank and setting up a saving account for me. She taught me to how to be independent and to save. Mom handled the money in our family. She could save, and it was something she passed on to me and my siblings.”

Gladys was the daughter of the late Paul Simerly, Jr. and Mamie Lewis Simerly, and grew up on Nanny Goat Hill in the Valley Forge Community. “I recall her talking about working at the local rayon plants when she was 16 years old. So, she had worked and been a doer and learner all her life,” April shared.

“My mom was a very smart person, strong-willed, and an optimist. She taught herself how to play the guitar. There was not anything she wouldn’t tackle.

“My mom was a very classy person and always looked good, whether it was just around the house or if she was going out. She was very intelligent, caring, and giving. Her friends and family knew her as ‘Sug,’” April shared.

The daughter recalled that her mother enjoyed working with school children and doing art projects. “Once she and the students painted the fire hydrants when we were living in Florida,”April said.

She was also active in politics. “Both in Tennessee and Florida, she was active in the Democratic Party. She fought hard for what she believed in,” April shared.

Gladys was preceded in death by a son, Randy Eugene Webb, and the father of her children, Eugene Mack Webb.

In addition to her two daughters, Gladys is survived by a daughter-in-law, Sharon Webb of Woodbridge, Va., a granddaughter, two great-grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Few people live to be in their 90s, and even fewer lived the jam-packed life that Gladys Simerly Webb lived. Life was an opportunity, and she captured it. Even the little things became big things.