Jewell Dean Avery Beard, age 88, of Rome, Georgia, passed away peacefully, at her residence, on October 3, 2023. She is now in the warm embrace of her two children, who preceded her in death, Sammy Spradley and (infant daughter) Kathy Spradley. Dean is also preceded in death by her parents, Howard and Jessie Avery, and nine siblings.
Survivors include her daughters, Pamela Spradley Hamilton, and Tammy S. Childers (Barry). She is also survived by her grandchildren, Allison C. Jemo (Keith), Joshua B. Childers (Miranda), Abigail J. Childers; and great-grandchildren, Annabelle and Avery Jemo, and Eliza Childers, all of whom lovingly called her “Mamaw.”
Dean, as she was known to her friends, rarely spoke of the challenges she faced in her young adult years when, at 17, she became a first-time parent. Following the birth of her first child, Pam, she soon found herself left alone to raise, not only Pam, but two additional children, Tammy and Sammy.
It was only later in life, as her children and grandchildren began to ask questions and research her remarkable life, did we learn the obstacles she overcame using her unstoppable determination and sheer will. We, her children, are fortunate to have repeatedly told our mom that, as adults, we now understood how hard this journey was for her. We also made certain she knew that, while we remember the tough times of our childhood; the overwhelming memories we enjoy as adults are painted in colors of love, laughter, and fun as our family of four bonded together through much adversity.
What is clear to Dean’s children is that we were blessed with a mother who loved us unconditionally, but who believed it was important to teach us accountability and to recognize that behavior has consequences. Dean, a teenage mom, extraordinarily wise beyond her chronological years, instilled a foundation of love, strength, and determination that is “baked” into her children and that now continues to live on in her grand- and great grandchildren.
As Dean approached retirement, she embraced her newly found freedom from employment. She immediately began checking off items on her “bucket list.” She faithfully watched her Atlanta Braves, enjoyed annual vacations to “the cabin” in Blue Ridge with Pam, and was thrilled to accompany her grandchildren to Disney World. Dean also often spoke of her trips to New York and Colorado. She was awe-inspired when looking at the Rocky Mountains but found the Blue Ridge mountains equally impressive.
Dean loved to garden and was always either planting a garden, cleaning up a garden, or planning for her next garden. She had a magical green thumb and delighted in giving away her garden bounty as much as she enjoyed eating it. She spent the last 20 years of her life, which she called “the best” years, working in her garden with her son, Sam. She and Sam were “gardeners in crime.” Their garden antics and mishaps are legendary. She loved to grow tomatoes and was particularly good at doing so. When asked why she continued to grow zucchini every year, even though no one in the family ate it (even her), she responded: “Because I can!” Yes, she gave all the zucchini away because she did not ever waste food!
Dean’s dream goal for retirement was to become more involved in the lives of her grand- and great-grandchildren. When Dean’s grandchildren were small, she attended their sports activities, music festivals, dance recitals, theater productions and any other activity they enjoyed. Dean’s grandchildren held such influence over her that they easily talked her into otherwise risky behavior to which she could not say “no.” While in her 60’s and 70’s, she thought nothing of flinging herself down a huge water slide or riding the “screaming bullet” at a carnival—just because a grandchild wanted her to do so.
Dean did not hesitate to tell anyone that these three grandchildren, now grown, ALL graduated from the University of Georgia and are now enjoying productive lives of their own. Each grandchild has traveled all around our planet. Dean was particularly proud of their travels. It was in keeping with her belief that travel can enrich one’s life and help grow an appreciation for others who are different from oneself.
Dean delighted in lengthy conversations with each grandchild whether it be about their travel experiences, current events, or politics. Her life experiences and unique perspective of the world became invaluable to Allison, Josh, and Abigail. These dialogues helped to shape and inform their decisions from adolescence to adulthood. As the grandchildren shared events of their personal lives, Dean took immense joy in being their confidant.
Dean was blessed to live long enough for her three great grandchildren to get to know her. They, as their parents had done, also called her Mamaw. Nothing brought a smile to her face faster than to have one of her great grandchildren plant a slobbering wet kiss on her face or bring her a flower from the yard. Dean left this earth knowing that a fourth grandchild will bless our family next April. We will make certain this new baby boy knows all about his great grandmother.
Our mom was one of the smartest and most resourceful people we have ever known. She was fiercely loyal and protective to those she loved and often extended this compassion to others she did not know. She never sought the spotlight or wanted attention. However, if she believed her children (or any child) needed protection, she transformed into a ferocious “mama bear.”
We always knew our mom was loved by many people and this became even more evident in her passing. Countless messages of sympathy have poured in from our childhood friends who have their own memories of our mom. They often refer to her as “the cool” mom.
Dean would be the first to say that the struggles she encountered as she walked the path of parenthood and life in general, were made better by special people she called “the angels” who appeared when least expected and at the most challenging times.
In Dean’s early adult years, these angels helped Dean feed and shelter her family, such as the Broadway family. They appeared during times of illness, such as health care professionals Dr. Whatley, Dr. Nanfro, and nurse Wilma who treated Dean with both medicine and compassion. Angel friends appeared in recent years by sending mom videos of their grandbaby toddlers, which she loved to view. Other angels appeared with her favorite foods, like Jane and her delicious pimento cheese. Friends of Dean’s children adopted Dean as their second mom, like Rita, Elaine, and Esther. In recent years, angels appeared to help her maintain her property, such as Rick.
Finally, many angel-friends sent her cards of hope and inspiration throughout her lifetime. We want those of you who did so to know that she kept every single card she ever received from you—hundreds of them! Dean was blessed to have so many angel-friends throughout her life and she knew this. There are so many others who are not listed in this announcement. However, please know that we, Dean’s daughters, know you all and we will never forget your kindness. Thank you for loving and supporting our mom.
On behalf of our mother, we also want to express heartfelt gratitude to the extraordinary staff of Heyman Hospice Care for their compassion, support, and guidance as we navigated through the grief and pain of losing our mom. We especially send love to Michelle who intuitively knew when we needed her the most. You will remain in our hearts forever.
In keeping with Dean’s wishes, her immediate family held a celebration of her life and a graveside service following her passing. Friends or family wishing to honor or pay tribute to our mom are requested to consider a donation to two organizations that were dear to her heart because of their support for children. These organizations are the Family Resource Center of Rome, PO Box 168, Rome, GA 30162, and St. Jude’s Hospital for Children, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
Our mom’s last wish was that all of us simply be kinder and more loving to one another.
Henderson & Sons Funeral Home, North Chapel, makes this announcement for the family.