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GRACE GILLEY


Grace (Rogers) Gilley of Chattanooga, Tennessee, born on March 22, 1920 to Katurah Selma and Joel Ellison Rogers, went home to be with the Lord on March 27, 2020, where she was reunited with her beloved husband, W.C. Affectionately known by her family as “Amazing Grace,” she exemplified grace and love throughout her life in all that she did. She had just celebrated her 100th birthday, at her home, surrounded by family. Grace was a loving wife of 69 years, beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and the golden heart of her family. Born and raised on Sand Mountain in Geraldine, Alabama, she worked on the family farm, and helped care for her seven siblings. She played basketball at Geraldine High School, and was named Miss Geraldine in 1939. She met the love of her life, W.C., in her mother’s strawberry patch, and they soon married and moved to Chattanooga. At the onset of WWII, they moved to Detroit for two years where W.C. helped build the Spitfire airplane, and Grace became one of “Rosie’s Riveters,” building large cylinder tanks that were filled with supplies to drop to the troops. Grace and W.C. returned to Chattanooga after the war and built their home, where a lifetime of family memories were made. Grace had a gifted connection with children and was blessed to find her calling with the Chattanooga School System as a Kindergarten teacher for 32 years, primarily at John A. Patten. After serving as PTA President for many years, she was awarded the distinction of Honorary Lifetime Member of the PTA by the Tennessee Congress of Parents and Teachers. She loved her community and is fondly remembered by many former students as “their favorite teacher.” Whether it was her kindergarten class, teaching Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, cooking for her family, or coaching softball, these things brought her great joy. When school was out, it was always Grace’s yard where the neighborhood children could be found—playing ball, hide and seek and catching lightning bugs. As a member of Lookout Valley Baptist Church, she enjoyed her Sunday School class fellowship, monthly Senior Neighbors gatherings, and quilting with her friends in the Busy Bee Quilting Club. Her quilting club produced many beautiful heirloom-style quilts that will be handed down through families for generations. She loved to sing in church, and sang with her sisters-in-law in a gospel trio on the WAPO radio show for more than a year. She had a room in her home all to herself, a small room with a window, dresser, mirror and chair, dubbed her “powder room” where she would get “dolled up” for W.C. for their fun social outings, with makeup and jewelry and a “snazzy” outfit. Summers were filled with a bountiful crop of vegetables from the garden, which she graciously shared with family, friends and neighbors: home-grown tomatoes, okra, squash, beans and watermelon were just a few of the mouth-watering delights. Her homemade buttermilk biscuits, banana pudding, chocolate pie, and coconut cakes were family favorites, made from scratch with love, “a pinch of this and a dash of that,” and all made to perfection. Grace loved spending time outdoors, camping in their Scotty camper and fishing on the area lakes. She would be the one to hook the big bass, with a giant smile on her face, as W.C. nodded and grinned with approval. Family vacations to Hawaii, Sedona, St. Augustine and annual beach trips fill the memory books—spending time with family meant the world to her. In her later years, she could be seen relaxing on her front porch while visiting with family and friends, and admiring the hummingbirds and flowers in her memory garden. Grace is survived by her children, Don Gilley (Beverly), Tim Gilley, Myra Gilley Fuller (Lee); granddaughter, Tiffany Gilley Tabb (Greg); and great-granddaughters, Finley and Harper Tabb. She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 69 years, W.C. Gilley. She set a shining example for living a grace-filled, godly life. She was deeply loved and will be greatly missed. Her memory and spirit will continue to live on in the hearts of her family and friends, whom she loved so dearly. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House, 200 Central Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37403. Due to the current restrictions on large gatherings, a Celebration of Life for Grace will be announced at a later date. Please visit www.ryanfuneralhome.net to share memories and condolences.