A most beloved wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, co-worker, artist and grandmother, Linda Rhoda Williams, left us on April 24, 2019 at her home in Hendersonville, Tennessee at the much too young age of sixty two. With the devotion and help of her family and the support of an extended community of friends, clients and cohorts, she had superhumanly extended her life well beyond that expected after a dire diagnosis given in July, determined as she was to witness her daughter give birth to another precious granddaughter.
This newest joy is now seven months old and delighted in her YaYa. She is Linda’s youngest grandchild of three cherished girls by her only child, Chelsea Meyer, whose relationship with her mother was even more than that of a most wonderful daughter; they were best of friends. Chelsea and her husband, Kyle, gave Linda her greatest gift with the births of those grandgirls: Jade, Dallas and Kaden.
She will be dearly missed by her daughter, husband and grandchildren as well as by a slew of siblings and their families, her nature loving father and his wife, generations of clients-some of over 30 years, her long time co-workers and many lucky friends who this lovely introvert occasionally allowed into her very full but quiet world.
Linda with Crocker, her loving husband of 39 years, made a striking couple. He proudly accompanied this natural beauty whose easy grace seemed effortless. On weekends they spent much time outdoors boating, kayaking, and camping. His devotion as a supportive husband has not waned in this difficult and sad time of her illness.
On workday mornings Linda could be found alone with her camera at her beloved Drakes Creek Park in Hendersonville. She loved the white and blue herons in the early light and took delight in the occasional swans she’d see there. Her photos are the work of an artist that move the rest of us to question how did we not quite see all the wonder she so readily noticed and captured. Some of her photos were so notable they inspired other artists’s paintings. Her beauty-seeking eyes could observe exquisite play of light even on her car’s windshield: patterned raindrops against the mottled light on the trees ahead. Every year brought fresh appreciation (and more photos) for the flowers and vines of her backyard, often taken at most unusual angles to showcase their delicate perfection against the brilliant blue sky.
It is difficult to overstate how Linda’s creativity was reflected in every aspect of her being: her chosen profession of stying clients hair, the way she dressed and accessorized, her pretty campsite tablecloths and lighting, the display of her collections of bird statuary, and even in the way she made a salad. But above all, in the way she showed her love. Whether this was on display by her choice of a perfectly illustrated birthday card or an incredibly elaborate paper-mache piñata lovingly constructed for a grandchild, it was unmistakable; Linda was an artist inside and out and visual art was her language.
Art for her was far more useful than the language of words. Those close to her know this most acutely. In the world of texting, she might likely respond to a multi-paragraph inquiry with either “OK” or “no”. Her phone calls were usually short. The inscription of a card might only be “love, Linda” but the image on the card was a sacred offering of sorts- the precious commodity of beauty. At work she was not chatty and was more known as a ‘listener’ than a gossip. She was prone to disappear during her breaks, time in which she gave her introverted spirit space to breath and experience the quiet that soothed her.
Besides having the soul of an artist, Linda embodied the soul of motherhood and later, YaYahood (which of course means being the consummate grandmother.) She really was the mom we all yearn for; one who offers unconditional love, delight in every achievement, bottomless attentiveness, gentle encouragement and a compelling sharing of her greatest joys- in this case her love of art and nature. As a grandmother she taught hula hooping, flower planting, swimming, puzzle making, picture taking, height charting and much more. She maintained ‘mailboxes’ on her hearth that the girls could check for surprises whenever they visited. The last thing in them was wands for giant and tiny bubbles. Even as her energy waned she’d rally to shop for Easter treats for her granddaughters or gifts for Chelsea who has a St. Patrick’s Day birthday.
But no description of Linda is adequate without a mention of hair. Not only was the caring for and styling of it the skill that provided her a living but it was a most striking feature of her notable good looks. Her three sisters readily acknowledged that she was the clear winner of the family hair comparison. There is just no comparison until one looks at her daughter or granddaughters who each have their own version of amazing locks. Linda’s remarkable envy-arousing mane was problematic when it inspired many naive clients to request she style their hair like hers. Well... no amount of cutting, shaping, perming, conditioning or curling could make the result look like hers. Linda struggled to find a gentle way to say ‘sorry-not possible!’ She also happened to have the longest legs and the bluest eyes of all the Rhoda sisters. Not fair! But sadly, life is not fair.
Linda’s quiet nature may have hidden a side of her from anyone not near enough to hear the humor in her often hilarious observations. Sometimes this came out in self-deprecating comments about what she called her ‘snaggle teeth’ or the ‘crater’ she saw on her nose. Recently she mimicked a funny YouTube video of a young woman demonstrating how to give oneself an enema. She joked that this might become her next profession.
Most who knew Linda understood that she had a kind and gentle heart. She had a soft spot for those unusually challenged and children with special needs. She sent in prayer requests for clients’ and friends’ troubled grandchildren and regularly contributed to a group that raised funds for foot and mouth artists who had no use of their hands or arms. She worried about children who she feared were under-nurtured. She indulged an elderly and confused cat that imagined it had a litter of kittens that needed praising and admiration.
Clearly, there is and never has been one to grace this earth quite like Linda Rhoda Williams. She will be loved and remembered by all who knew her. For those in her family it will be for the rest of their days.
Linda is survived by her husband, Mr. Crocker Williams; daughter, Chelsea (Kyle) Meyer; grandchildren, Jade, Dallas, Kaden; father, Charles (Marsha) Rhoda; siblings, Beverly Doggrell, Chuck Rhoda, Mike Rhoda, Beth Figiel, and Judi Murphy.
A memorial service will be held at 3pm, Saturday, May 4, 2019 in the chapel of Hendersonville Funeral Home. Family will receive friends one hour prior to the service.