Wilma Burk Hales passed away on Monday, February 13, 2017 She was born between Tutwiler and Sumner, MS on Aug 5, 1920 on her Uncle George Little's place. Her parents were Tomie Payton Burk and Beulah Little Burk. She was the oldest of 7 children. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Roy Russell Hales (he was not a loving husband -enough said), her daughter, Mamie Ruth Preslar, brothers John and Payton Burk, sisters Mildred, Lucille, and Joyce (Johnnie), and granddaughter Stacy Hales. She is survived by 4 sons, Joe, Bobby, Rex, and Michael and her loving brother James Burk and son-in-law, William Preslar. Wilma had 9 grandchildren, many great grandchildren, and many, many great-great grandchildren.
She had a long hard life, was a hard worker, and raised 5 children almost by herself. She bragged that until she was in her forties that she could pick 200 pounds of cotton any day. She worked at Baptist Memorial Hospital on Madison for over 30 years before retiring. She said in all those years she worked at the hospital she never had a cross word with anyone.
She was working on the night that the ambulance brought in Elvis Presley for the last time. The word spread immediately through the hospital that Elvis had died. She said everyone in the hospital was crying. She had seen Elvis many times before in the hospital because word would spread quickly that Elvis had been admitted. She saw Elvis's doctor regularly as he had patients on her floor, 9 Madison East. He was rude with all the hospital staff and in her opinion he should have gone to jail over Elvis's death.
Wilma loved flowers (especially roses), gardening, and country music. Ernest Tubb, Jerry Lee Lewis, Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash, and Elvis were her favorites.
She believed in the Pentecostal church. When she was asked why had she lived so long (96 years, 6 months, and 7 days), she stated, "I never drank, smoked, or caroused around at night. I went to bed with the chickens and got up with the chickens and went to work." Her wish always was to live long enough to move back to the country and get her some more chickens.
She was known for having a large vegetable garden and would brag, with pictures as proof that she raised Peter Pepper plants that grew over 7 feet tall with peppers that were over 6 inches long. Some people call this pepper by the name Maiden's Prayer also. She saved some seeds every year for the next season. People would come to her house in Munford to get seeds and to take pictures of the tall pepper plants. She sent a plant with her granddaughter, Susan, who was at Blue Mountain College to plant in front of the girl's dorm with the sign Maiden's Prayer. Everyone got a big laugh about the sign until the plant started producing peppers during late September.
She was an excellent cook and was known in the family for her canning skills especially her pear preserves. She spent her entire life in the south and never went north of Nashville, TN or west of Little Rock, AR where she would go to visit her step-grandmother.
She lived all over the southeast United States, in different parts of Mississippi, New Orleans, LA during WWII when her husband was working in the shipyards helping build ships for the war, Mobile, AL, Barnwell, SC, Decatur, AL, Rockwood, Lebanon, Huntingdon, Munford, and Memphis, TN and ended up at Covington Care in Covington, TN. Of all the places she had lived her favorite place was in New Orleans. She had been living in North Mississippi where the weather was cold, but when the war started they moved to New Orleans and it was warm. The flowers were blooming and the best part was she got to go see Ernest Tubb performing in concert in 1943
One of her famous quotes was, "People forget you as you get older. I am 95 today and I only got one birthday card." However, she did have a party with cake, candles, and lots of visitors. She loved telling people how old she was and that she could do what she wanted.
Before going to Covington Care, every morning she got up and got dressed, put makeup on, and was always ready to go somewhere or someone came to visit. She gossiped about those women who didn't care how they looked. Of course, she loved her jewelry and she always had on her earrings, necklace, rings, and broaches. Long dresses were her favorite especially if they were red.
She loved traveling to Nashville with her three sisters to go see the Grand Ole Opry. They would make several trips each year with Johnnie driving. Of the four sisters only Johnnie learned how to drive.
On her 96th birthday in August, 2016, I asked her what would she like to do at that stage of her life and she said, "I just hope the good Lord lets me live long enough to vote against Hillary in November."
She was an amazing, simple, country woman who lived a good life and worked hard. Our family has been blessed to have been allowed to have her with us for so long and we know that she is rejoicing in heaven having left behind all her worldly troubles and pain.
Our family wants to thank the nurses and nursing assistants at Covington Care for the wonderful care you provided for Ms. Wilma for almost 4 years. You spoiled her and she loved it. Also, we want to thank God for Donald Trump.
Funeral services will be Wednesday (Feb 15) at Munford Funeral Home in Munford, TN with visitation from 12:00 P.M. until the funeral at 2:00 P.M. She will be buried at Helen Crigger Cemetery next to her husband, daughter, two brothers, three sisters, and about 40 other relatives in the same cemetery.