JoElla Williams, 98, of Little Rock died peacefully Jan. 20 following a brief illness.
A graveside service to celebrate her life will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at Bethlehem Cemetery in Joan, Ark., preceded by a noon lunch with family and friends at the Bethlehem Community Center. Ruggles-Wilcox Funeral Home of Arkadelphia will direct services.
JoElla often expressed her desire to rejoin her husband, Paul, in Heaven. She is no doubt already catching him up on what has been going on for the last 14 years. They were married for 63 years. The daughter of James R. and Estella Arnold of Arkadelphia, she died just shy of her 99th birthday. She was the oldest member of the First United Methodist Church of Maumelle.
A gifted storyteller with a sharp wit and memory for detail, she leaves behind countless tales for friends and family to pass down for generations: Stories of growing up on a farm near Amity with her sister and two brothers, graduating from Henderson State College, teaching public school and raising two sons in Malvern, and moving to the Rockies (Littleton, Colo.) with Paul’s career.
The fondest memories JoElla liked to recount are those from the time she and Paul moved back to the Williams family farm in Joan to take care of his aging father, Hugh. It was there they entertained grandchildren and family who came to fish, hunt, garden, ride the horse, and bump along the rolling hills of the 80-acre farm on the riding lawn mower and tractor.
Active members of the Bethlehem Methodist Church, Jo and Paul found they truly could go home again and relished their tight community of friends and family. When keeping up the farm got too much, they moved to Maumelle to live near their son.
In addition to husband Paul, Jo was preceded in death by her parents and brothers Tom Arnold of Hot Springs and Saxon Arnold of Malvern.
She is survived by son Dr. Paul (Lisa) Williams of Las Vegas; son Bill (Judy) Williams of Maumelle; five grandchildren: Meredith (Michael) Goetz of Charlotte, N.C., Oliver (Jill) Williams of Little Rock, Ensley (Justin) Walters of Portland. Ore., Bryan (Leah) Williams of Phoenix, and Jordan Williams of Dallas; eight great-grandchildren; and her sister Ann Bray of Katy, Texas.
The family wishes to thank the staff and residents of Pleasant Hills Assisted Living Center who made Jo’s last four years fun and comfortable. Caregivers at The Lakes of Maumelle Rehabilitation Center, CHI St. Vincent, and Arkansas Hospice provided excellent care over her final three weeks.
Suggested memorials close to Jo’s heart: Bethlehem United Methodist Church 318 Main St. Sparkman, AR. 71763, Bethlehem Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 423, Arkadelphia, AR 71923, or Maumelle First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 13984, Maumelle, AR 72113. Online tribute page is available at www.ruggleswilcox.com