Joyce Smith, Columnist

Thought for the week: Throughout this day, pause and say silent prayers of thanks. When you do, you’ll discover that a grateful heart reaps countless blessings that a hardened heart will never know.

This is one of the hardest columns I have ever written. We in Bethesda have lost numerous friends and family members throughout our community as well as in the county.

Death is hard to accept, but we know God has everything in his hands. We were devasted when we learned of the sudden death of Jody Bowman. We understand he did have COVID-19 but died of a blood clot in the lungs. 

We then learned of the death of Larry Westbrook Sr., who had made his home at Somerby Franklin for several years. He was a neighbor of ours, on Byrd Lane, and before this pandemic, I always enjoyed visiting with him at home as well as at Somerby.

I feel so sorry for family members as well as the patients in assisted living communities, nursing homes and hospitals because visitors are not allowed during this time.

When a mother and her son join each other in heaven, it is a blessing to them, but to us left behind, it is a void in our community.

Beulah Reed and her son, Raymond Reed, died within days of each other from COVID-19. Our deepest sympathy is extended to their families.

I knew that Marie Bentley was not well, but I had no idea that she was as bad as she was until I learned of her death this past week.

Her brother, Jimmie Dee Bennett, as well as a nephew, DeWayne Bennett, were just buried a few days before her death.

Joe McMillan died while resting in his recliner chair. What a way to go, but hard on those left behind.

We received word that my 64-year-old nephew John Courtney had died of a heart attack while working in his yard. He lived in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and was the son of the late Wirt Courtney Jr. and the late Cleo Courtney Cowan. His wife is Pam Stephens Courtney, formerly of Nashville.

Jennifer Holt (Jeff) received word that her mother, Lynne Hutto, had died this past week. She made her home in Arkansas. Tommy King, brother of Richard King, died this past week as well. As I was writing, I received a call that Dorothy Bagsby Campbell had died. She is the mother of William Campbell.

Our deepest sympathy is extended to each of these family members.

Today is Thanksgiving. Please take time to thank God for all he has done for you over the year.

I know this will be hard to do with so much going on in our country as well as the loss of so many of our loved ones this year, but I am sure if we will take the time, pause and think, we can find blessings.

I want to say thank you to each of you who have been so supportive of me as I gather news for this column. Also, for all the prayers, calls, cards, etc. during my surgery. After eight weeks of therapy, I was allowed to go home.

Thanks, also to STAR Therapy of Franklin and its staff for doing such a great job. I had a former school parent, Robin Newman, as my physical therapist, and she was great.

Beginning tonight, you can load family members into your vehicle and take them to the Williamson County Ag Expo Center for the Franktown Festival of Lights. The event will run from 5 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 26. The cost is $25 per car.

The money will go to Franktown Open Hearts, which is a nonprofit that serves Franklin’s at-risk youth and their families. You can purchase your tickets at the gate or in advance at

Mark your calendar for Dec. 3-11, which are the dates for a Christmas pop-up shop at BrightStone’s Land of Dreams property at 4178 Columbia Pike.

You will be able to purchase items — ceramics, cards, cookie, tea and dip mixes as well as seasonal handcrafted items such as Nativity sets and ornaments — that have been made by the students.

 All sales will support BrightStone. The event will run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. This will be a wonderful opportunity to see the grounds that will eventually house the students.

A wonderful parade took place this past Sunday for Ben Yates, who was able to sit and watch as folks passed his home. A special thanks goes to Allison Sandrell and others who helped. Also, thanks to the Peytonsville Fire Department, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and all the neighbors who took part.

I understand they had all types of vehicles, including tractors and motorcycles. Ben is the husband of Bonnie Crafton Yates. Our prayers continue to be with him.

If you would like to be a part of the 156th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin events, then plan to go to Carnton at 4 p.m. Monday. You will be able to see and hear historians, talks and a ceremony about the story of America through the perspective of Nov. 30, 1864. You can tour, Carton and the Carter House for free on this day.

Carnton is at 1345 Eastern Flank Circle. The Carter House is at 1140 Columbia Ave.

Many of our family members and friends have COVID-19 as well as other health problems. If you talk with Elaine Bradley Thompson, she will assure you that this virus is not a hoax.

She has had a rough two weeks. (She is my hairdresser, and if you could see me, you would know she needs to get well soon.)

Our daughter, LeAnne, tested positive this past Monday, so, of course, that means Russell and I will be quarantined for days.

I was sorry to learn that Hollis Williams recently fell and had a complete hip replacement on Tuesday. Others whom we need to remember are Ellen Bogle, Joel Pedrick, Lincoln Benefield, Connie Marlin, Judy and Ronnie Pitt, Howard Ford, Geneva Stephens, Anita Gillespie, Teresa Locke, Lynn Paris, Kim Ham, Nellie Stephens, David and Delores Gilreath, Doris Pedrick, Mary Lynn Millsaps, Frances Warpool, Elise Banner, Jessie and Charlie Bennett, Ben Yates and Julie Parrish Fast. Please continue to pray for all of these people and others in need.

Our deepest sympathy is extended to the families of the those I mentioned in the beginning of my column as well as the families of Nancy Coleman Murphree, mother of Pat (Mac) Hughes and Mary Ann Murphree, David Self, Jim Mabrey Jr., Pamela Logan Waters, William “Bill” White, brother of Mary Lizzie Sledge, Barbara Sanders, Clifford Smith, Terry Canada and Larry Jones, as well as others whom I am not aware of.

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