A Life Lived: There were no dull moments with ‘Doodle’ Tipton

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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Leunah Tipton was a wife, mother, teacher, singer, a dedicated Christian and church member, and a friend to lots of people. In fact, she had collected a lot of friends and memories in her 96 years of living.

“Doodle” as she was known to family and friends was 96 years old when she graduated from this life April 16. She was the daughter of the late Robert E. Cardwell Sr. and Jacque Parlier Cardwell and was married to Andrew Jolly Tipton, who also preceded her in death. 

Doodle was a teacher in the Elizabethton City School System for more than 30 years, which provided her with some challenges as well as wonderful memories. She was an exchange teacher to Australia for one year, which provided her with some wonderful experiences and memories.

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“That was in the mid-1980s and my dad got to go with her. She had some wonderful memories of that year,” said her daughter, Viki Campbell.

Most of her teaching career was spent with fifth graders at the old Duffield School on Academy Street and later at East Side Elementary, where she retired.

In addition to teaching, music was a big part of Doodle’s life. “She especially loved folk music and dancing,” said Viki. She sang for nearly 50 years in The Hills Are Alive Chorus, which is part of the Sweet Adelines International Organization. 

Viki shared that her mother went to practice on Monday night before she died. “She died with a song in her heart, and we sang a Sweet Adeline song at her funeral,” her daughter shared. Another song sung at her funeral was “Jesus Loves Me,” which was done at Doodle’s request.

“She was a wonderful person, a great mother, and she loved to do for other people,” shared Viki. “She loved people, and for years she attended each of her high school class reunions. She graduated from Elizabethton High in 1945 and she continued to go when there were only her and two more class members. Now, there is only one class member left,” said Viki.

Doodle was very active in the First Baptist Church of which she had been a member since 1949. She had taught Sunday School, Training Union on Sunday night, and was active in the Women’s Missionary Union.

There were no spare or dull moments with Doodle. If she wasn’t doing something for her church or for someone, she enjoyed reading, growing flowers, and watching the birds at her birdfeeder. And, she liked to go to a good party, and oftentimes hosted her own party.

How did she come by the nickname “Doodle?” Viki shared that when her oldest grandchild was born, her mother shared that she wanted to be called “Mama Doodle.” So, that is what she went by, not only by her grandchildren, but by all of her church friends.

Leunah was Mama Doodle to five grandchildren – Stephani Shouse, Staci Peters, Kristi Zimmerman, Keri Howell, and Timothy Tipton. She also had nine great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Leunah “Doodle” Tipton was laid to rest April 19 at Happy Valley Memorial Park.

Hans Christian Anderson is credited with saying “Where words fail, music speaks.” For Doodle Tipton, music held things together and made life just a bit sweeter.