Mrs. Barbara Ann Blanks Gathen was born February 1, 1945, to the late Elihue Blanks and Robinzine Blanks and the late Thurston Daniels and Vertie Daniels in Fountain Hill, AR. She transitioned to be with her heavenly father on Friday, July 17, 2020, at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, AR.
Barbara was a lifetime and proud member of Pilgrim Rest African Methodist Episcopal Church where she served in the capacity of Monticello/Warren District Steward, Mary E. Lee Missionary Society member, and as a pianist and organist for many years.
She was very active in her church and loved everything and everyone in her church. Nothing pleased her heart more than assisting her pastors and exercising her culinary skills especially when it involved the fellowship of church members and guests. Taking care of her family was her greatest joy in the world and seeing them happy brought such peace to her. Barbara had a very contagious laugh and a beautiful smile that will forever be imprinted in the hearts of all who encountered her.
Barbara was raised and educated in the Monticello area. She was the Drew High School Class of 1963 valedictorian. Following graduation, she led had a stellar professional career that began as a licensed cosmetologist. She attended Arkansas AM&N, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, for two years before transferring to A&M, now the University of Arkansas at Monticello. She became one of the first African American students to attend UAM. In 1967, she made history by becoming the first African American to graduate from UAM earning a degree in English and a minor in speech.
She left a mark of forty years in the educational field in the following Arkansas school districts: Dermott, Warren, Hamburg, and Watson Chapel in Pine Bluff where she retired. During her profession educational journey, she was blessed to have touched the lives of many students which provided her with many memorable moments of joy.
Barbara was also a proud Lifetime Golden Soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., member of the Order of Eastern Stars Sunshine Chapter #64, and a retired member of the Arkansas Education Association.
Barbara was preceded in death by her siblings: James Blanks, Mizella Wells, and Bonnie Jean Brown.
A lifetime of love and memories will forever be remembered and cherished by her very loving and devoted husband, whom she affectionately called “My Best Friend,” Thomas Gathen; her children, Tommy Gathen (Merritt) of Memphis, TN; Kristi Gathen-Ridgell (David Karon) and Tiffany Gathen, both of Monticello, AR; three lovely granddaughters, Brittney Gathen, Morgan Gathen, and Corinne Ridgell, who affectionately called their grandmother “Nana and Granny”; her three sisters, Rotean Sawyer of Los Angeles, CA; Gloria Hardy (Eric) of Southfield, MI; and Jackie Jones of Monticello, AR; two brothers, Elihue Blanks, Jr., of Los Angeles, CA; and Lonnie Blanks of Fountain Hill, AR; and a host of devoted nieces, nephews, cousins, many relatives, and friends.
A COVID-19 style walk through viewing strictly enforced will be Tuesday, July 21, 2020, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Graveside services will be Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. at Oakland Cemetery, in Monticello, AR. For more information please visit www.stephensondearman.com and sign the online line guest book.
Ms. Joyah Flemister, 38, passed away July 16, 2020. She was born September 05, 1982, to Joe Cunningham and the late Anita Flemister in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Her visitation will be Wednesday July 22, 2020, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Perry Funeral Home Chapel. Her service is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Solomon Hill Church with Rev. Ken Daniels officiating.
She leaves to cherish her memories, father, Joe (Tonya) Cunningham; two grandmothers, Bessie Flemister-Bennett, and Flossie Cunningham; three brothers, Jovan (Genelle) Williams, Gerald James, and Tristian Cunningham; one sister, Candylin Cunningham; one niece, Erica Tolbert; one uncle, John (Natalie) Flemister; two aunts, Rhonda Flemister, and Del Flemister; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. Service by Perry Funeral Home.
Mrs. La’Trese Thurman 49, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas passed away Sunday, July 19, 2020, Arrangements will be announced by Brown Funeral Home of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. www.Brownfuneralhomeandmortuary.com.
Mrs. Joyce Goins 50, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas passed away Monday, July 20, 2020, Arrangements will be announced by Brown Funeral Home of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. www.Brownfuneralhomeandmortuary.com.