A Life Lived: Claudia Ensor made life a song worth living

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, November 23, 2021

BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Editorial Director
rozella.hardin@elizabethton.com
The late Johnny Mathis used to sing the song: Life Is A Song Worth Living. Among the lyrics were “You control what you do with your life. You’re a fool if you think you’re helpless…Life is a song worth singing…why don’t you sing it.”
Life wasn’t always easy for Claudia Nell Ensor, but she always had a melody in her heart and she cared for others. Claudia died Nov. 16 at the age of 87.
Her son, Jeff, said his mother was raised during a time when life was hard, “but she would tell you that life, although it was hard and sometimes disappointing, had been good to her.” Claudia was the daughter of the late Blonnie Blanche Alford and was raised in the Carter Community. She was a graduate of Unaka High School, where she was a member of the girls basketball team. “That was when the team had six players and they played half-court. Mom took advantage of every opportunity that came her way to be with friends. Later in life she was a faithful member of the choir at Unaka Baptist Church. She loved to sing and especially enjoyed attending singing school every year with her good friend, Ann Hardin,” Jeff said.
Throughout her life from the time she was young to her last birthday, Claudia found an outlet to be with people whether it be to sing, play ball, show kindness to a client at work or to her caregivers, or just be a good neighbor. On the guestbook entry of her obituary page, Taylor Grindstaff, a great-granddaughter, wrote: “Mamaw Claudia, I remember so long ago when I sat at the piano in your house and you taught me to play a simple song. I remember the days you’d always cheer me on as I practiced throwing and catching with a tennis ball against your house.”
Claudia knew what kind words and a soft touch could do to the human heart.
For more than 30 years, Claudia was office manager for Dr. Doug Cole, a local dentist. Many of his patients remember her smile and kindness to them when they visited the office.
Claudia was a charter member of Unaka Baptist Church. In fact, she was one of the last remaining charter members. “She is the reason that I and my siblings are in church today. She took us to church every Sunday morning and Sunday night when we were growing up. We went to Sunday School and Training Union as well as preaching. I always had to wear a bowtie, and I hated it. But, two things I knew — I was going to church and I was going to wear a bowtie,” Jeff said with a chuckle.
“Mama loved music. She sang alto in the church choir, and during the last weeks of her life I would take a tape of the Chuck Wagon Gang to the nursing home and play if for her, and she would sing along with it. Mama always had a song to sing, and she taught many of her nieces and nephews how to play the piano,” Jeff shared.
Claudia not only loved music, but she loved people. A trip to the grocery store was as much about seeing people as it was buying groceries. “She always found dental patients, neighbors, and church people to talk to. She knew someone in about every aisle of the store. So, you planned to be there awhile when you went,” said Jeff.
He noted that her job at the dentist office was as much her social life as it was her means of financial support. “She wrapped her life around the patients and Dr. Cole. And, they were very kind to her, and very caring,” her son shared.
Jeff also noted that his mother was a great cook, and especially enjoyed holidays with her family. Claudia was the mother of three children. In addition to Jeff, she was the mother of Jennifer Grindstaff and Alan Ensor. She had five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Claudia was married to Ralph Ensor for over 30 years before he was killed in a tragic accident. “Life was never the same for her, but she kept singing and kept the faith,” said Jeff.
Claudia had spent the last three years in the nursing home after suffering a broken hip, which left her unable to function alone.
Claudia Ensor was among the best, and no doubt, she is singing in a Heavenly choir today. She made life a song worth living.