Ona Mai

Jun 09, 2024 at 05:45 pm by Producer

Our mother Ona Mai Smotherman died on Sunday, June 9, 2024, after a long and happy life.


She was born Ona Mai Tomlinson on April 13, 1936, to Lounette Quarles Tomlinson and Sory Hudson Tomlinson in Lebanon, TN, the third of five children.


At age 15, she moved from Lebanon to Murfreesboro. Soon after moving she met Charles Barry Smotherman when he visited her to invite her to the First Baptist Church where she became a lifelong member.  She graduated from Central High School and married Barry in the summer of 1954.  He was the only man she ever loved.  


They started a family and had a daughter every four years—Pam, Melanie, and Suzanne.  She made sure her daughters were in church every time the doors were open. In 1963 they built a house on Sanders Court.  She made that house a home for her husband and daughters, and per her wishes, she lived there until her death.


Ona Mai was first and foremost a loving wife and mother.  She was a 1950’s style stay-at-home mom who worked tirelessly for her family in an era when there were no dishwashers, no microwaves, no disposable diapers, and all the clothes had to be ironed.  She wore many hats including homemaker, laundress, cook, chauffeur, seamstress, personal shopper, counselor, and family CEO.  She was very involved in her daughters’ schools and extracurricular activities such as PTA, and Girl Scouts. She was a Homeroom Mother for 12 consecutive years.  


She lived a life of serving and caring for others.  There was never a decade that she wasn’t caring for someone in the family--her daughters, her mother, her mother-in-law, her husband’s aunts, and finally—and tirelessly--her cherished husband of nearly 65 years.  At age 82, after 7½ years of caring for her beloved Barry following his stroke, she finally retired and took it easy.


Ona Mai was predeceased by her parents, loving husband Barry Smotherman, and brother Jerry Tomlinson.  She is survived by daughters, Pam Kennedy (Gibert) of Aiken, SC, Melanie McHugh (Dan) of Murfreesboro, TN, and Suzanne Smotherman of Hermitage, TN; grandchildren, Grace Kennedy (Baldvin Einarsson), Gibert Kennedy (Marina Vivero), Jim McHugh, and Morgan McHugh Hilk (Matt); great grandchildren, Lilja, Alexander, Seren, and Otto; and siblings, Ada Midgett of Lebanon, TN, Idalee Allen (Bill) of Murfreesboro, TN, and Ed Tomlinson (Lois Jean) of Mt. Juliet, TN.


Visitation with the family will be held Friday, June 14, 2024, from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM at Woodfin Memorial Chapel. The funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM Friday following the visitation with Pam Pilote officiating. Burial will follow in Evergreen Cemetery with Gibert Kennedy, III, Dan McHugh, Gibert Kennedy, IV, Jim McHugh, Danny Tomlinson, and Phillip Tomlinson serving as pallbearers.


Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro, or Alive Hospice in memory of Mrs. Smotherman.


An online guestbook for the Smotherman family is available at www.woodfinchapel.com.


Woodfin Memorial Chapel. (615) 893-5151.

Sections: Obituaries