There is no greater love than that of a caring mother for her family. Our mother, Sara Louise Conley, always found the heart, the time, the energy and the compassion in her soul to care and provide for not only our large extended family but also for a much wider circle of relatives, friends and people that she touched in her 93 loving years on this Earth. Ms. Louise was clearly one of those angels that God places on this Earth to help protect, care for and nurture those who need assistance in life.
Ms. Louise (Granny) was born Jan. 19, 1926, in Millwood, Ga., as the oldest daughter of David Arthur Bennett Sr. and Sarah Frances Proctor Bennett. She lived all of her life in South Georgia and she truly loved this state and the warm, Southern culture of its people.
She eloped to marry Charles Owen Conley on Sept. 9, 1943, to build our family that has grown to more than 64 direct descendants at her passing. God granted Ms. Louise her permanent angel wings on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, to lift her up to her new glorious home with Charles in Heaven. We will deeply miss her warm hugs, the sound advice and that quick wit and laughter that touched our hearts and souls.
When our Lord places us on our life’s path, we know that He provides and prepares us with the skills and perseverance to make the journey. Some of us manage to wander along that path looking for some sense of purpose and fulfillment but there are those rare, special few who are blessed with the depth of character and the honest human compassion to help the rest of us find a source of strength and sense of self-worth that enriches our entire lives along that wonderful journey.
Any close examination of our mother’s life reveals a long and wide trail of smiling humans who have been touched with her simple kindness and compassion. Her enduring love and unfailing friendship are surely one of life’s greatest gifts. There is no present like the time and Ms. Louise always found time to give to everyone around her.
She was right at home as a frugal, but effective mother, homemaker and seamstress for her six kids when we were all young and hungry. We have all laughed at our elementary school yearbooks where the boys wore the same shirt on picture day in three different years. We found ways to help her navigate three carts of food and supplies to check out at the grocery store to provide for her growing family and circle of friends. None of us were found wanting with Mom around.
Mom was equally comfortable as our life coach, cheerleader, disciplinarian and taxi driver to guide us through our various activities and life’s adventures. She managed to keep all of us and many of our friends involved in after school activities, sports, the outdoors and — generally — out of trouble. She enabled us to find that critical sense of belonging that all humans crave and need. Our knowledge and appreciation of being an integral part of something much greater than ourselves provided the foundation on which true happiness and a meaningful life can be built.
As one of six very fortunate children of Charles and Louise Conley, we were truly blessed to grow up protected by the nurturing warmth and by those important life lessons that came from their hearts and from their humble but hard-working spirits.
Mom and Dad lived simple but honest and productive lives that enabled them to care for not only their 32 grandchildren and great-grandchildren but so many others around them. There are so many examples of their kindness and assistance to help children and people in need.
Louise Conley somehow also found the time and joy in her life to share activities with her friends and her colleagues from her African violets and roses to her world famous cole slaw, banana pudding, sweet pickles and strawberry jam. We have all heard her laugh with her friends at their canasta club, square dancing group, PTA, band boosters and the Elks club events. We went with her to Sunday school and church events and to the numerous fish fry dinners, family holiday parties and reunions.
Just like her mother, Ms. Louise was happiest when she was helping to feed and care for 15 to 20 of her extended family and friends at fish fry dinners and Sunday meals — or for 150 of her extended family at the annual Bennett-Proctor family Thanksgiving weekend reunion. She was truly a gourmet Southern cook with a love for rich, Southern cuisine — a fact that is sadly, but well-documented in the combined length of her children’s belts!
In 72 years of marriage and in the 90-plus years of their well-lived lives, Charles and Louise Conley found happiness, meaning and peace in their time spent together and in those cherished moments spent with their friends and family. Those times are when life is truly lived at its best. We are so blessed that our mother and our dad led a simple, glorious life that suited them so well and touched us in a way that only God could conceive.
We are equally grateful for our loving God who honored Mom and Dad — and us — with so many caring, close friends and with our strong and healthy families. Charles and Louise are survived by their loving and grateful children, Glenda Hyers of Mershon, Ga., Jim and Ann Combs of Blackshear, Ga., Buddy and Debbie Conley of Chesterfield, Va., Bill and Sherri Conley of Southlake, Texas, Randy and Cindy Conley of Waycross, Ga., and Don and Susan Conley of Carrollton, Texas, along with their 12 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren; two sisters, Jean Riggins (late Edwin Riggins) of Waycross and Ruth Esmonde (husband Dave) of Snellville, Ga.; and two sisters-in-law, Doris Bennett of Waycross and Ann Bennett of Blackshear.
She was preceded in death by her two brothers, David Bennett and Charles Bennett; and one sister and brother-in-law, Joan and Jim Bugos.
We thank each of you for the love, joy, friendship and beauty that you shared with our mother and dad during their journey together in this life on this Earth. We look forward to our next eternal journey together with them and with our Creator and Savior. May God bless and comfort you and your family in the same ways that He has blessed and comforted our family
Memorial services for Mother will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at The Chapel at Miles-Odum Funeral Home, 130 Screven Ave. in Waycross. Interment will be held at Greenlawn Cemetery following the memorial services.
The family will receive friends beginning at 2 p.m. at the funeral home.
And while Mom truly loved her flowers, Ms. Louise and our family kindly request that any memorials be sent in Louise Conley’s honor to Hospice Satilla, 808 Evergreen Way, Waycross, GA 31501.
Sympathy may be expressed online at www.milesodumfuneralhome.com.
Miles-Odum Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.