Thursday, July 9, 2015


Mary Helen Bales

Has put away her labor and leisure too.

“Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me.” The key word in this line by poet Emily Dickinson is “kindly,” the key phrase is “could not stop,” because Mary Helen Bales was indeed kindly, she always thought of others. She also rarely stopped moving, a hard worker, always in motion, always walking somewhere. Even when her 86 years forced her movements to be confined a therapeutic walker, she took the decline with good grace. She slowed, but never stopped. Sitting still was not in her répertoire.

Mom and I both loved to walk or hike or scurry, as long as it was fast. She saw my first steps, I saw her last. A large part of who I am is rooted in her

She taught me to walk and talk and my love of birds. And in the end, what more did I need?
Born a Latham at home on Panther Creek off Chapman Highway on March 21, 1929, Mary Helen Bales of Gatlinburg passed away at UT Hospital, Tuesday, July 7 after a brief unexpected illness.

Mary Helen Bales • Circa 1973

Growing up on a Sevier County farm, she became a tomboy. As a young mother, she was athletic, could run like a deer, play baseball with the kids and mastered the newly invented skateboard with ease. A devoted mother, Mary Helen insisted her two children complete college, an opportunity she never had.

With husband Russell, Mary Helen was a long-time co-owner of Bales Cabins on Baskins Creek in Gatlinburg. Just 11 cabins built by granddad Homer. She loved the tourist trade because she enjoyed people and serving their needs while they vacationed in the Smokies. Once she knew you liked something, she always provided it.

In her later years, after putting away her labor, her favorite leisure became TV game shows. She liked the fast-paced repartee, the mental quizzes where everyday people like herself could earn big money. Her favorites were the perennial “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.”

Her beloved husband Russell Bales preceded Mary Helen in death. Those left behind to grieve her loss are daughter Darlene and son-in-law David Brett, three grandkids: Leighanna, Michael and Logan Brett, her son, that would be me, and extended family Rachael Eliot and Karen Sue Webster, and “Sis” Shirley Patterson.

A member of Laurel Grove Primitive Baptist Church of Gatlinburg, her simple graveside service will be held Sunday, July 12 at 2 p.m. at Shiloh Cemetery in Pigeon Forge. Elder Ralph Smith will conduct the service with Atchley’s Funeral Home handling the arrangements.

Once one of the fourteen children born to Rev. Michael and Mary Jane Latham of Sevierville, the sole survivor Mary Helen has gone home to join her siblings: Clarence, Lela, Kate, Marion, Harris, Edmond, Elizabeth, Joe, Ruth, Marie, Faye, Albert and Alvin.

May they all now, rest in peace together once again.

In lieu of flowers, send your mother a bouquet and hug her.  

Still walking until the very end, 
especially when the stroll could be outside.
Somehow I know there will be miles and miles and miles 
of new walking trails in heaven.


Cindy said...

What a beautiful piece, Lyn. So heartfelt and loving.

HomegURL said...

Lyn Deepest sympathy for the loss of your mom. What a remarkable life. What a nice tribute I am thinking of you. Kathy Bivens

Dorothy said...

This is such a special tribute to your Mother! I could feel and love in your words.

Paul James said...

Just read this, Lyn. What a sweet memorial penned by the superb writer that you are.

Stephen Lyn Bales said...

Thanks, Dorothy and Paul.