Lorene or “Lo,” as many knew her, was born on a wintry day in Birchwood on Dec. 12 at her parents’ home. Addie and Oscar Pendergrass, a hard-working farm couple, carved out a living during the Depression with the help of their daughter, Lorene, and her nine brothers and sisters. Seven of her siblings have migrated to heaven already: Louise Pendergrass, Eloise Johnson, Mildred Renner, Harvey Burchfield, Thurman Pendergrass, Ralph Pendergrass, and J.P. Pendergrass (sisters Corky Butler of Cleveland and Marjorie Carson of Batesville, Miss., remain).
Though life on the farm was tough, the toughest aspect of her early life was her mom’s suffering from breast cancer in an era when cancer research was in its infancy. She missed some of her high school years, as it was her first duty to care for her ailing mom, Addie.
Not soon after her mom’s passing, she married James Thomas Gibbons Sr., a Cleveland resident who at that time, 1944, was a sailor fighting in the South Pacific. James and Lorene were married for 67 years and had one son, James Thomas Gibbons Jr. of Knoxville. A few years later they added a beautiful granddaughter, Renner Evangeline Gibbons, also of Knoxville.
She had many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews: Bobbie June Benton of Charleston, Richard Pendergrass of Venice, Fla. (deceased), Charleen Potter of Cleveland, Gaye Oliver of Chattanooga, Faye Maroon of Athens, Stan, Abby, and James Pendergrass of Florence, S.C., Mary Ann Copes of Athens, Ga., Johnny and Mike Carson of Batesville, Miss., Jeff and Chloe Carson of Miami, Shea, Lauren, and Carson Griffin of Cleveland, Amanda and Logan Barrentine of Nashville, Bobbie Jane, Bambi, Jennifer, Travis, and Robert Dial of Chattanooga, Brian and Travis Smith of Cleveland, Janey Cooke of Cleveland, Jane Dial of Nashville, Lindsey and Tristan Wagner, Britney Cooke, Tami and Bailey Mayhugh, all of Cleveland, Steve Gibbons of Niota, Scott Gibbons of Cleveland, Sterlene and Sarah Murray of Nashville, Debbie Burchett of Knoxville, Tona DiTore of St. Simons Island, Ga., Tony Potter of Cleveland, Holly Benton of Knoxville, Steve, Neely, Luke, Parker and Brad Benton of Charleston and Joanne, Michael, Marc, and Mitchell Lyle, all of Chattanooga.
She treasured all her friends and family. This group included a very special cousin, Imogene Davis of Chattanooga, incredible in-laws: John Carson of Batesville, Miss. (deceased), Emma and Maggie Pendergrass of Chattanooga (also deceased), Lola Pendergrass, Charles Burchfield, Buddy Gibbons and Roy Renner (all deceased of Cleveland), Bobby Butler, Norma Gibbons and Bobbie Pendergrass, all Clevelanders, Cliff Griffin of Cleveland, Pam and Ellen Carson of Batesville, Wendy Benton of Charleston, Stephanie Carson of Miami, Brent Barrentine of Nashville, Dwyne Murray of Nashville, Larry Burchett of Knoxville, Jane Lowe of Cleveland (deceased), Mary Glenn Davis of Cleveland, Kenny Copes of Athens, Ga., John DiTore of St. Simons Island, Ga., Tom and Nell Donnelly of Arden, N.C., Stephen Medley, Tom and Nan Hentz, Ella and Wayne Partin, Joe and Phyllis Lemons (Joe, thank you for helping Lorene up when she fell down in the driveway), Pat and Joe Hogan, Rhonda Ingram, Penny Smith, Andy Lowe, Ann Smelzter (special thanks to you Ann — you helped Lorene many times with your extraordinary nursing skill), Valerie Gibbons of Niota, Bobbie Pendergrass of Venice, Fla., Trisha Pendergrass of Florence, S.C., and Danny Cooke of Charleston.
A special note about four very special friends. They double and triple-dated as teenagers, the men fought the Axis Powers in World War II, the girls were employed in war defense, they had families, and after the dust settled they traveled and ate out together like they were connected at the hip. Joe and Mary Katherine Ledford (Joe is deceased), and Jess and Wanda Greene have been friends of Mom and Dad’s since the 1930s. The bond these six have is timeless and though Joe and Lorene have departed, they gaze down from heaven with the love only true friends understand.
First United Methodist Church of Cleveland was her church home; she was a longtime member of “The Circle”, a philanthropic women’s group. Her working life included 11 years working for Sanda (formerly Cherokee) Hosiery Mill, 34 years working for the U.S. government (Selective Service and Social Security). She also worked for several short years at Miller Brothers department stores in Cleveland.
Mom loved her friends and neighbors dearly; she also formed closed relationships with those she encountered in her working life and during retirement. She freely loved like she had never been hurt, danced like nobody was watching, worshipped God with the fervency of a longtime believer, gave like she didn’t need money, and offered advice and nurturing with the heart of a sage. We love you.
The Remembrance of Life service will be conducted at 3 p.m. today, Dec. 28, 2011, from the North Ocoee Chapel of Jim Rush Funeral Homes.
A graveside service will be held Thursday at 11:30 a.m. from Chattanooga National Cemetery with Johnny Carson, Mike Carson, Kenny Copes, Tony Potter, Steve Gibbons, Scott Gibbons and Brad Benton serving as pallbearers.
The memorial book may be viewed and signed at www.jimrushfuneralhomes.com.