Barbara LaJean Gunn Felts was born on September 9, 1932. Barbara met her Lord and Savior on the morning of Sunday, June 25, 2023. She was 90 years old.
Barbara was born in Carlisle, Arkansas to Durward Gunn and Ruby Nell Swaim Gunn. She was the oldest of eight siblings. From childhood and throughout her entire life, she was always surrounded by many loving family members. Barbara became the aunt of many nieces and nephews and grafted herself to an extended family that included Gunns, Swaims, Boothes, and Feltses. Having family to love and to serve was a cornerstone of her life.
Barbara married Amos Roland Boothe on November 5, 1953. On July 31, 1954 their only child, Beverly Kaye, was born in Carlisle, Arkansas. During her marriage to Amos, Barbara served as the pastor’s wife while Amos led the congregation at Walters Chapel, north of Carlisle.She did not know it at the time, but the congregants there included her future in-laws, John and LeliaMae Felts and her future husband, Eugene.
Barbara married Eugene Perry Felts on June 20, 1959. Barbara and Eugene enjoyed many years of camping, traveling, and hosting parties and game nights in their home. Many friends and family still recall great memories while camping or traveling with Barbara and Eugene. Many close friends were made while camping and on cross-country bus tours.
Together Barbara and Eugene grew their extended family and their three grandchildren, Kevin, Brad, and Melanie, eventually provided twelve great-grandchildren, with whom Barbara found immeasurable joy, taking every opportunity to show them how much she loved them.
Her husband Eugene passed away on February 9, 2009 at the age of 88. They were married 49 years.
Barbara was a 1950 graduate of Carlisle High School. Through 11th grade, she attended CHS near where the “Old Gym” still stands at the Carlisle City Park. She was in the first class to graduate at the “new” building on 5th street. Her name and those of her classmates are still imprinted in the concrete sidewalk there at the old High School on 5th street.
Barbara’s work ethic was respected by all who knew her. Shaped at an early age, her work ethic took root helping her mother and father as a young girl. As the oldest of seven surviving siblings, she worked in the home serving her brother and sisters as a second mom, alongside her mother Ruby. At thirteen, she took her first job away from home, as a live-in housekeeper for an elderly couple. As a highschool student she continued to work as a housekeeper, babysitter, caregiver, movie theater attendant, all before graduation.
After graduation, Barbara worked at Young’s Department Store in Carlisle. Mr. Young recommended her as a nurse to Dr. Gartman’s newly established clinic in Carlisle, where she delivered countless babies, worked many emergencies and cared for both the sick and the dying. From Dr. Gartman’s clinic, she moved to Citizens Bank & Trust (later BancorpSouth). Barbara served as an officer and head bookkeeper at the bank. She retired from banking in 1998 after 31 years. Across all three careers as a clerk, a nurse, and a banker, she worked alongside her long timefriend, Jackie Tarter.
After retirement as a banker, Barbara stayed busy cleaning houses and businesses. She also catered with her good friend, Barbara Loretz. She spent her time keeping her grand-niece, Jordan, and later, her great-grandchildren, Katelyn, Noah and Ava. On short notice she would make the drive to Tennessee to help with Melanie’s children. Although she said she would never fly, she didn’t hesitate to hop on a plane and see Brad’s children for the first time. She enjoyed working and staying busy–even in retirement. She enjoyed spending time and talking daily with her long-time friend, Linda Little Webb. The time she got to spend on trips and lunch dates with dear friends, Pat Hogan, and Lois Raborn, were times she cherished. Later in life, Barbara took up dancing with her special friend, Henry Warren.
Barbara also served as an officer and treasurer of the Old Carlisle Cemetery for many years. She enjoyed gardening and canning. She also enjoyed playing cards and board games and cooking, especially with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She always thought of the future and what kind of legacy to leave her grands and greats. One legacy was the many handwritten cookbooks that she penned for them that contained the recipes that she had cooked over the years, many of them being dishes that she taught them first hand.
Barbara is preceded in death by her husband, Eugene Perry Felts; her mother, Ruby Nell Swaim Gunn; her father, Durward Gunn; her infant brother Jerry Leyon Gunn; and her sister, Peggy Sue Gunn Elmore.
She is survived by her only child, Beverly Kaye Boothe Lee (Sammy); her brother, Danny Ray Gunn; her sisters, Shirley Ann Patterson (Don), Gwendolyn Givens (Jim); Brenda Diane Albright (Don); Debbie Jo Brown (David); her grandchildren, Kevin Ray Smith (Kim), Bradley Kyle Smith (Monica), Melanie Dawn Smith Gross (Bo); her great-grandchildren, Taylor DeLaine Gross, Kayla Rose Alsbrook Moody (Morgan), Katelyn Elisebeth Smith, Gemma Gabriella Smith, Noah Ray Smith, Lydia Grace Alsbrook, Jonathan Reymundo Smith, Dalton Perry Alsbrook, Ava Renee Smith, Bradley Luke Smith, Rhett Augustine Smith, and Ezekiel Quentin Smith.
She went by many names. She was known as Mama to Kaye, Mammaw to her grandkids, Mammoo to her greats. As she so loved to do, she was very blessed to be able to spend the last weeks of her life traveling with her daughter, visiting her great-grandkids in Tennessee and New Mexico before returning home to Arkansas to make her final round with all her great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 1, 2023 at Westbrook Funeral Home, 183 N Livermore St, Hazen, AR 72064.
Funeral services will be conducted at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 2, 2023 at Walters Chapel, 25 Red Oak Ranch Rd, Carlisle, AR 72024, with interment immediately following at Old Carlisle Cemetery, 729 Raborn Rd, Carlisle, AR 72024.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Old Carlisle Cemetery at P.O. Box 972, Carlisle, AR 72024.