Born July 9, 1935, in Waveland, Arkansas, Mary Sue was the daughter, and first-born child, of James David and Maudie Belle (Reece) Nelms. Mary Sue would later become a big sister to siblings: James, Edna, Mae, and Joy (an infant who passed away at two years of age).
Growing up in Yell County, Arkansas, Mary Sue received her education in the community of Ola. It would be near the age of ten that Mary Sue’s mother became ill causing Mary Sue to begin caring for her siblings and family through the chores of cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc.... Although a tough task for such a youngster, this seemed to be the beginning of a lifelong labor of love in caring for others.
At the age of 16, Mary Sue would marry William T. Childs. The couple would eventually welcome two children: son, William “Bill” and daughter, Donna. This couple would also work together for Enterprise School Photos where Mary Sue was tasked with processing photos for school yearbooks. As the darkroom foreman, she was not only great at her job, but she also became quite adept at seeing in the dark! This superhero skill probably aided in keeping her children in line! Working in this profession also enabled Mary Sue to spend the summers at home with her children.
Whether school was in session or not, Mary Sue was very involved with her children’s activities. She was a shuttle driver and cheerleader. She was also always up for a game in the yard. She was the youth director at church taking charge of youth camps and activities.
Upon the passing of her husband, Theo, Mary Sue was emotionally unable to continue her work for Enterprise. She would, though, begin a new career with F&M Bank where she worked in customer service.
In 1981, Mary Sue married Martin Bruce Smith. They would enjoy over 25 years of marriage until his passing in 2007. Family only grew with this union. Mary Sue gained another daughter, Paula. As retirement brought about more flexibility, Mary Sue would take off to be with any child, grandchild, or other family member that needed help. She helped parents acclimate to new babies, she loved to babysit for grandchildren, great grandchildren and she would even dog sit! She would also use her time to serve on the Board of Directors for the Ola Housing Authority, and Ola Methodist Church. She was instrumental in the church’s food pantry ministry, was a member of the county election board, and was a long-time and faithful member of the Order of the Eastern Star for over 67 years.
Hobbies for Mary Sue included crocheting, reading, cooking, and baking her famous chocolate sheet cakes for family birthdays. She also kept a calendar of family birthdays and was faithful to send out Birthday cards to all!
Mary Sue was always on the go! She owned a 2004 Chevy Impala that was approaching 300,000 miles. This constant state of go was necessary to carry out her mission of caring for others. She was also described as patient, angelic, diligent, and faithful. She will be deeply missed and we are sure our Lord told her “job well done, faithful servant.”
Mary Sue passed from this life on November 9, 2022. She was 87.
She is survived by: her children: son, William T. Childs and wife, Gayle; daughter, Donna Carr; daughter, Paula Smith-Wright and husband, Lynn; eight grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by two sisters: Edna Burleigh and husband, Jimmy and Mae Nelms along with numerous nieces, nephews, and other family.
She was preceded in death by: her first husband, William T. Childs; her second husband, Martin Bruce Smith; her son-in-law, Jess Carr; brother, James Nelms; infant sister, Joy Nelms and by her parents.
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