LONGVIEW — Grace peacefully left this earth to be with her Lord Jesus September 23, 2013, at the age of 89. Sadly, in her later years, she suffered from memory loss, but she never failed to express her unending love for her family and God to the very end. Born February 11, 1924, at her parent's home in Wilmar, Arkansas, Grace's father, Elmer Minchew, earned a living as a farmer and cattleman. Her mother, Freddie Collins Minchew, was a homemaker.
As a young girl, Grace attended school at McArthur and Desha Central, where she enjoyed learning but was shy in class. Her favorite subject was math. She did many chores around the house and farm but always made time for her best friend, Catherine, who she described as being within "hollering distance." Some of their favorite times were spent going to town with their dads on Saturdays, sharing a coca cola for a nickel, while attending a movie for a dime. They often listened to Grace's favorite radio comedy series, Fibber McGee and Molly.
Grace graduated college from Arkansas A&M and received her master's degree at Commerce State University in Texas. As a young school teacher
in Arkansas, Grace met fellow teacher J.W. Oden. Since he was new in town, Grace invited him to a movie, and after dating eight months, he proposed in front of her parent's home while sitting in his A-Model car. Grace often laughed about her wedding day, August 14, 1947, when she arrived on time for the 2:00 ceremony after attending school until noon and having a flat tire while driving 30 miles to McGehee. Grace and J.W. claimed "their song" was Sentimental Journey made popular two years earlier, when the song's release coincided with the end of World War II. It became the unofficial homecoming theme for many veterans, including J.W., who had served in the U.S. Navy
during the war.
The newlyweds taught school in Rohwer, Arkansas, where Grace said she put wood in the stove and swept/cleaned her own classroom, while teaching fifth grade and coaching the Jr. High girls basketball team for $80 per month. By 1957, the Odens had relocated to Longview and were the proud parents of a daughter and son. Grace was a terrific homemaker and loved to sew and crochet. She will be remembered for her fabulous Sunday pot roast lunches with apple-nut salad, boiled potatoes and sour cream pound cake. She had a prosperous 40 year teaching career, including 28 years as a fifth grade teacher at Pine Tree, retiring in 1985.
Grace was a simple woman who was a long-time member of Calvary Baptist Church. She was known for her friendliness and signature pink lipstick/fingernail polish. She loved her home on Pirate Avenue, where she cherished her beautiful flower garden. During her final years, Grace's home was Buckner Westminster Assisted Living, where she claimed to run the place, helping with socials and often dressing as a clown for activities. She was a special lady filling lives with happiness and sweet memories to be remembered by all who were fortunate to know her.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 40 years, J.W.; and brothers, J.B., Dewie, Dee and Milton Minchew.
She is survived by her daughter, Gloria Oden of Longview; son, Brent and his wife, Kim Chapman Oden, of Spring; sisters, Hazel Box of Noblesville, Indiana, and Barbara Gibson of Star City, Arkansas; brother, Morris Minchew of Hallsville; and three granddaughters, Meredith Oden Root of Alexandria, Virginia, Mackenzie Oden of Carrollton and Mary Peterson of Gladewater.
Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Saturday, September 28, 2013, at Calvary Baptist Church, 4715 Tenneryville Road, Longview, Texas, under the direction of Lakeview Funeral Home, with Chaplain Rick B. Webb and Bro. Richard Jones officiating. Burial will follow in Lakeview Memorial Gardens. A time of visitation with the family will be 1-2 p.m. at the church before services begin.
Flowers are permitted or memorials may be made to the Calvary Baptist Church Children's Ministry or the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission in Longview.