A Life Lived: Barbara Pless was a strong, giving, and loving person
Published 1:07 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2022
BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Barbara Pless’ children described her as “classy, strong, stylish, admirably smart, graceful, giving, and loving.”
“She was tough, but she was a very caring person. She loved me and my sister to the utmost, and I am sure she gave up a lot of things so that we could have or do something,” said her son, Eddie Pless.
Pless said his mother and dad (Charles “Chick” Pless) were a great match and complemented each other. “They both loved music. He was a bi-vocational church music director and she often was active with children’s choirs. And, I learned from an old newspaper article that she also played the piano.”
Both, Barbara and Chick were originally from Johnson County and met while in high school at Elizabethton. “One of my and my sister’s prized possessions is a letter of proposal my dad sent to mother in 1944 while serving aboard a ship in the South Pacific. It was such a sweet letter, and, of course, her replay was ‘yes.’ They were good to each other and were good to us, and both had a strong faith. Melody and I could not have had better parents,” said Eddie.
Melody, who now lives in Murrells Inlet, S.C., with her husband, Gary Sparks, shared that her mother was a very talented person. She was a businessperson, and for many years owned and operated her own floral shop. “Mother was also an excellent seamstress. She made quilts, curtains, etc. She, too, had decorating skills and often helped others with decorating their homes.”
After she closed her floral shop, Barbara worked for other retail businesses. She often said that if she passed a “Help Wanted” sign, it meant she should stop and apply.
Melody noted that her mother was a very caring person. “When my grandmother became unable to do many things for herself, my mother went every evening to check on her, took supper and did for her. She did this for the longest of time,” Barbara’s daughter shared.
Barbara was also very involved in church music. “She loved church and music. She played the handbells, helped with the children’s choir, sang in the adult choir, and in later years often sang in choirs which I directed. In earlier years, she and her sister, Mae, often sang for funerals. She really enjoyed church, and worshiping with her family and friends,” said Melody.
And if the music, the flower shop, and taking care of her family was not enough, Barbara enjoyed cooking and taking care of her home. “She could cook anything. She loved to try new recipes. She always did a spread for Sunday lunch and could make the best rolls,” Melody shared. She said her mother in years past often watched the Kathryn Willis daytime show on WJHL-TV and tried made many of the show’s recipes.
“There wasn’t much that my mother couldn’t do or at least tried to do. In addition to taking care of her family, her church work, cooking, and business endeavors, she and my dad enjoyed traveling some and for several years after their retirement wintered in Florida.
“My mother was a super-active person, who enjoyed her family, friends, church…whatever she was doing, she gave it her all,” said Melody.
Eddie agreed with his sister that his mother was one smart person. “I often wonder what she could have been or done had she been born in a different era. She made opportunities for herself in the era that she did live,” he said, nothing his pride in her.
Sadly, Barbara developed dementia and spent the last eight years of her life in a nursing home. “It was so sad knowing the vibrant person she was. It is such a terrible disease. It robbed my brother and me of our mother during her final years,” said Melody.
Barbara Pless was a beautiful woman, stylish and elegant, as well as smart. Coco Chanel said, “Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside.” And Barbara Pless proved that by the life she lived.
Barbara died Nov. 24 at the age of 94 and was laid to rest at the Mountain Home Cemetery.