Claudia Belle Ricker Jones, 86, of Parrottsville passed away peacefully at her home on Monday, April 15th, surrounded by her family.
She was born in the Rock Batter community of Greystone to Herschell and Celia Mae Hensley Ricker. She was married to Charles Tommy Jones in 1952 and together they raised six rambunctious children on a farm in Parrottsville near the Cedar Creek community of Greene County.
Mrs. Jones was a retired commercial artist and an accomplished oil painter and musician who could often be found in a church somewhere playing her guitar and singing. She was a true artist in every sense of the word. She was a skilled seamstress, quilter, knitter, embroiderer, and enjoyed a variety of handicraft projects. She and her husband always had huge gardens, both of necessity, what with six kids, and because they loved tilling the soil. They milked cows, raised hogs and chickens, canned, cured, preserved and persevered to raise their children. She was a baker of cakes, churner of butter, and source of the best sausage gravy and biscuits to ever grace a table.
She professed her deep abiding faith and love for her Lord and Savior at an early age and was determined to instill that faith in her children if she had to beat it into them. She succeeded. She was a tiny little thing who more than made up for her diminutive size in sheer feistiness. Her mastery and command of the written and spoken word belied her humble education and upbringing. She was a true hillbilly raconteur with a sharp wit and a tongue to match. If you got on her bad side, she could tell you to go to the devil and you wouldn’t even know it until she walked away, leaving you wondering what just happened. For the most part though, she was the sweetest, kindest, funniest little woman you’d ever want to meet. Up until a week before her passing, when asked how she was doing, she would invariably answer, “Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Mrs. Jones never met a stranger. Seriously, she knew everybody! And their kids. And where they lived 50 years ago. If she didn’t know you right off, with one question, “Who’s yer daddy?” she’d quickly figure you out. And she was universally loved and admired in return by all who knew her.
In addition to her parents, Mrs. Jones was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Tommy in 2010. She was also preceded by brothers: Frank, Joe, Milburn, and Bill Ricker and sisters: Velma Cutshaw, Ethel Ricker, Ina Ingle, and Viola Johnson; sons-in-law Bobby Keistler, Steve Daniels, and Howard Ricker; and special friend Gordon Fanning. She was met in heaven by her grandchildren, Stephinie Tegeder, Erin Krauss, and Jaxon Garcia.
Survivors include her only living sibling, her sister, Stella Franklin of Greeneville; two sons, Michael (Paula) Jones of Milton FL and Lanny (Becki) Jones of Parrottsville; four daughters, Linda Jones, with whom she made her home and who was her devoted care giver, Janet Keistler of Parrottsville, Shirley Ricker of Greeneville, and Camilla (Terry) Davis of Little Rock Arkansas. Her grandchildren are Christie (Steve) Bass, Latha Keistler, Chris (Misty) Keistler, Amanda (Brian) Hixson, Jesse (Jenni) Hipshire, Angie (Ben) Smith, Tina Hipshire, Charlie (Kelli) Jones, Philip (Roseanna) Doolin, Katie (Blake) Fraley, Casey Jones, Tommy Ricker, Destiny (Tristan) Garcia, Janie Jones, James Earl Ricker, Brandon Davis, Terry Davis Jr., and Victor Ray. She has 25 great grandchildren and 9 great-great grandchildren. She is also survived by sisters-in-laws Dorothy Ricker and Joyce Jones and many nieces and nephews, including Carolyn Ingle, Cathy Franklin, Sandy Holt, Anita Lintz, and Kim Peters, who were of great comfort and assistance in her final days. In addition, she leaves behind her special constant companion and protector, her little dog Pinkie.
Visitation will be Friday, April 19 from 2 - 4 and 6 - 8 PM at Doughty-Stevens Funeral Home in Greeneville.
The service will be held Saturday, April 20th at 11 AM Doughty-Stevens Chapel after which mourners will go in procession to the Jones Family Cemetery in Cocke County. Reverend Jeremy Carver will officiate with assistance by Reverend Terry Franklin and Reverend Eddie Teston.
Pallbearers will be grandsons, Chris Keistler, Philip Doolin, Jesse Hipshire, Charlie Jones, Tommy Ricker, and Casey Jones.
Honorary pallbearers will be members of The Sanctuary Church of Greeneville of which Mr. and Mrs. Jones were charter members and to which they were dedicated in service to the Lord.
Special thanks to neighbors and members of Whites Chapel Church in Parrottsville.