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Tanya Watson Stewart (8-31-14) service 9-2-14

Tanya Leontene Watson entered Summertown, Tenn., on Dec. 9, 1934, the daughter of Homer A. and Jane Dale Watson.  From that point on, her life proved to be a marvelous adventure that she willingly shared with all who came her way.
At the age of 12, she began working in a retail store in Hollywood, a suburb of Memphis.  Two years later, at the ripe old age of 14, Tanya found employment with Mr. Harlow of H&M Bakery, a relationship that would eventually lead to 30 years of donut making during which time she trained her mother to work in Mr. Harlow’s shop and convinced her husband to have his own business.  Graduation from high school led to employment as the executive secretary to the president of what was then Esso and is known today as Exxon—not bad for someone who was 18 at the time.  But college called and she left the company after less than a year to enroll at Freed-Hardeman in Henderson, Tenn.  While Tanya was at Freed, Herb, her future husband, was at Abilene Christian; they met in the lunch line after they both transferred to Harding in Searcy, Ark.  Marriage followed on May 31, 1956, and she began working while Herb finished his education.  He graduated with their first child, Loyd, in attendance. At six weeks of age, he showed little interest in the ceremony.
A move to Ellendale, another suburb of Memphis, found Tanya again looking for ways to help support their growing family.  She opened a private kindergarten at the Ellendale Church of Christ which she operated for five years before choosing to focus solely on her family. From then until 1976, she concentrated on raising Herb and the kids before going back to school as a student at Texas Women’s University from which she received her Bachelor’s degree. 
The fall of 1978 found her teaching at McNairy County Central High School in Selmer before moving to the Hardin County Middle School half a year later. Nine years passed and she transferred to the high school to teach business applications for computers. Always one to look toward the future, Tanya could see the direction in which the world was moving, so she became the first certified computer teacher in Hardin County.  Retirement came in 1997, officially while she was having heart surgery.  Her first words upon awakening were, “Do I have to go back to school?”
Tanya never met a box she didn’t like, as evidenced by the collection in their attic.  Her son, Loyd, received one last year that had been stamped by the company with the year 1972. Her beautiful smile, as observed by Mr. Harlow, opened doors and made everyone feel comfortable around her—and her beautiful voice even led Kelly Doyle, the choral director at Freed, to break his own rule about all members reading music. She couldn’t read a note, but she could certainly sing and he knew it. Tanya was also an excellent shot, as evidenced by the raccoon that made the mistake of attacking their dog.  Even though she had never fired a gun before, she hit the raccoon three times as it ran along the fence, and never once got the dog. Her sense of humor made her a formidable foe when it came to a battle of wits, something Herb knew but had reinforced when he observed on one snowy, starlit night, that cooling was conducive to cuddling. Tanya informed him that she was aware of this and had already put an extra quilt on his side of the bed.  Always up for just about anything, she allowed herself, at the height of a pregnancy, to be pulled into an igloo—one that Herb had built—on a tarp because she couldn’t bend over enough to crawl through the opening.
Tanya was a person of such depth and such determination that the memories flow freely whenever her name is mentioned.  She was a saver and a scrimper, one who never bought as much fabric as the pattern called for and packed diaper bags full of food whenever the family went to events or on long trips. An excellent seamstress, she made her own wedding dress and most of her children’s clothes when they were younger.   But above all, Tanya was a servant; putting the needs and wants of everyone above her own was a way of life for her.  She was a member of the Savannah Church of Christ, the wife of an elder, and an ardent supporter of St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis.  Love and patience were her hallmarks and many a person found themselves a guest at her table, simply because she always set an extra place, always made certain there was enough to go around should the need arise.  Even at Christmas, there would be extra gifts under the tree so guests of her children could be a part of the festivities.  Tanya and her family lived for Christmas, enjoying the food, the fun, and the family time together.  The end of one Christmas only marked the beginning of planning for the next.
This remarkable woman left her family and friends on Sunday, Aug. 31, at the age of 79 years, 8 months, and 22 days. She leaves her loving husband, Herbert L. Stewart of Adamsville; her four children, Amy Robertson and her husband Kevin, Ronda Hillis and her husband Homer, Sandra Stewart, and Loyd Stewart and his wife Christi; her sister, Alice Watson; her brother, Homer A. Watson II; five grandchildren, Hannah Hillis, Joshua Stewart and his wife Janessa, Lucas Stewart, Zac Stewart and Dylan Wilder; and one great-grandchild, Jacie Stewart. 
She was preceded in death by her father, Homer A. Watson and her mother, Jane Dale Pyron.  It was observed by one of her children that Tanya’s influence has passed to hundreds of people who will never meet her through the lessons she shared with those who know her best.  As it was said of her mother, so it is said of Tanya as well, “She has done what she could . . .”
The family requests that memorial donations be made to:
National Multiple Sclerosis
Greater Northwest Chapter
192 Nickerson Street
Ste. 100
Seattle, WA 98109
Services were held Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 11 a.m., at Savannah Church of Christ with Mark Massey officiating. Burial in Adamsville Cemetery.

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