Mom, grandma, great grandma, and dear friend to many, Marie Garland Parkey Branham, age 98, passed away October 26, 2021, at the home of her daughter Christa Grant in Cave Spring, Georgia. Although she lived a long life, all who knew her are deeply saddened by her death. She is the daughter of the late Nathan Garland and Mercy Griffith Garland, born September 22, 1923, in Relief, N.C. Her father operated a lumber mill and grew tobacco, and her mother ran the household of eleven kids--seven girls and four boys. Her mother was also a midwife and helped care for sick people in their mountain community. Marie was a strong and independent woman who was talented in so many aspects of her life. She left home at the age of seventeen and moved in with her sister Monnie Love in Erwin, TN. Her sister got her an audition at Southern Pottery in Erin that made the now popular collectable Blue Ridge Pottery. Marie had an interest in painting as a child, but she had no professional painting experience. However, she got the job as a painter, because the person who hired her said she had “a graceful brush stroke and proper wrist techniques.” Marie told him that if she could visualize an object, she could paint it, and that is exactly what she did! It was not long before she supervised her own painting crew.
She met a handsome young man, Van “Jack” Parkey, in Erwin and they married in 1944. After completing his welding certification, the couple moved to Newport News, VA. to work in the shipyards. Marie was an example of “Rosie the Riveter,” having worked on one of the first Supercarries in WWII. At the end of the war, they moved to Oak Ridge, TN where Jack got a job at K25. They lived in one of the houses built for plant workers. They later bought a small farm house in Dyllis and started their family. They were proud parents of two daughters, Brenda Gail, and Christa Lynn.
The family of four moved to Rockwood in the late 1950’s and bought a home in Dodson Subdivision. Marie began to paint again, and she made her own kiln creations. Her pottery pieces were beautiful and very sought after. Marie continued to focus on her pottery creations, and she also became an expert seamstress. She made majorette costumes and prom gowns for her daughters and their friends. Marie secured a position working at Daniel Arthur Rehabilitation Center in Oak Ridge as an evaluator, where she used painting and ceramics as part of her therapy for her patients. Marie and Jack purchased their next home near the Rockwood Golf & Country Club. She also was well known for her delicious home cooked meals. Family and friends cherished time spent in Marie’s kitchen enjoying her many special meals, desserts, and conversation. A few years later Marie and Jack separated and divorced in 1980. In 1984, Marie married Henry Branham. Adding to her life talents, Marie became a ballroom dancer. She and Henry enjoyed going on ocean cruises and dancing. She acquired many beautiful gowns and she and Henry were dance floor hits! Her love of art and painting continued, and she had pottery placed in several shops in Rockwood. People came from across Tennessee and other parts of the country to buy her pieces. She made complete sets of dinnerware in a variety of colors and designs. She made assorted sizes in serving pieces, pitchers, tea sets, flowerpots, and even hand painted piggy banks! One customer ordered twenty-seven of her teapots on one occasion for his out of state store! She was interviewed and appeared in state and local newspaper articles about the uniqueness of her pottery. Marie lost Henry in 2005. She continued her pottery craft in the basement of the home. She also began another talent—planting beautiful flower gardens. She had unique colors of Iris and numerous other plant varieties and a vegetable garden surrounding her house. Her home cooking for family became a weekly tradition. Her children and grandchildren became the center of her life. She loved watching sporting events with family, especially her grandsons. They talked sports, cheered loudly, and enjoyed homemade refreshments. She was a die-hard Pat Summitt and Lady Vol fan!
Anyone who knew Marie was touched by her talents, kindness, and humor. She had a gift of making everyone feel like family. If you were special you might get a jar of her wonderful black raspberry jelly! Her beautiful smile and infectious laugh will be missed more than words can say.
In addition to her parents, Marie was preceded in death by her former husband, Jack Parkey, husband Henry Branham; six sisters: Lola Gage, Gertha Gage, Monnie Love, Eula Johnson, Wanda Riddle, and Myrtle Hollifield; and four brothers: Lloyd, Earl, Ross, and Burl Garland. Marie leaves behind to cherish her memory, two daughters: Brenda Howard and husband, Dickey of Rockwood, TN, Christa Grant of Cave Spring, GA.; three grandchildren: Wesley Goss of Rockwood, TN, Jamey Goss of Cave Spring, GA, and Lindsay Hurley and husband, Jay of Buchanan, GA ; six great grandchildren: Griffin, Lacey, and Abby Goss of Cartersville, GA., Nathan Goss of Kingston, TN, Cooper and Jamey Lynn Hurley of Buchanan, GA; two extended family members: Linda Carter of Rockwood, TN and Pat Pierce Goss of Harriman, TN., and many special nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The family will receive friends from 6:00 until 8:00 P.M. Thursday, October 28, 2021, at John House’s Cave Spring Chapel.
A graveside service will be held at Roane Memorial Gardens in Rockwood, TN Saturday, October 30, 2021, at 11 A.M.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Autism Speaks.org or to the Tunnels to Towers Foundation at t2t.org.
Online condolences, photos, and memories may be shared with the family at www.cavespringchapel.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mrs. Marie Garland Parkey Branham, please visit our floral store.