Joanne Shannon Tefft 1925–2009
by Laura Hill
Joanne was so much a child of Nashville.
She was born nearby, at Baptist Hospital. She lived around the corner from here on Eighth Avenue North. She graduated from West End High School, attended Ward Belmont, met my Dad, a dashing young pilot, at a USO dance at the old YMCA – also around the corner. They traveled the world, raising four children, mostly on the move. Theirs was a great adventure, but then they were both great adventurers.
Many years later, after my Dad died, she met Ed Tefft right here at Christ Church, and the two of them had another wonderful adventure in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for nearly 20 years.
Home again, she spent her last few months in a wonderful, nurturing place, Morningside at Belmont, overlooking the college campus she loved as a young woman. So it seems right that she is here now, in the place she loved, in the town she loved.
Everyone who ever met my mother remembers her as a beauty, possessed of that glorious red hair, mischievous hazel eyes and dazzling smile. She sought beauty, and found it, everywhere, from the old-fashioned blue hydrangeas that were her favorites, to the faces of her children and great-grandchildren, to the moths she insisted on gently escorting out of doors. And she created beauty everywhere she went – lovely oases for her friends and family, in bare-bone Air Force housing in Okinawa, or a 17th-century casa in San Miguel or her little house in Nashville. Very often there was not much money, but always there were candles, linen napkins, flowers. And the promising hint that a party might break out at any minute.
My mother, my lovely mother. She loved voluminously, criticized rarely and rooted fiercely for the underdog. She loved Je Reviens perfume, all kinds of people, and fried rice. She wasn't afraid of anything. She never complained. And she laughed, laughed a lot, with her whole heart.
Wow – what a package.