Mary Helen Alexander, 81, of Lebanon passed away on May 1, 2023. She was born in Murfreesboro, TN on March 5, 1942. She was preceded in death by her parents, William Roden and Christine Perry Roden; the father of her children, John Allen Alexander; son, Johnny Roden, brothers, Edward Roden, Tom Roden, Henry Roden, and Jesse Roden; sisters, Nina Roden and Janie Cabany; and grandsons, Michael Alexander, Eric Stacey and Brian Alexander, and longtime companion Homer Bain.
She is survived by her sons, Sam (Nancy) Alexander, Marty (Kathy) Alexander, Frank (Angela) Alexander; daughters, Connie (Jim) Bradley, Tina (Mike) Adcock, and Karen Stacey; brother, James Roden; 25 grandchildren, 48 great grandchildren, one great great grandchild with 2 more on the way.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say when they made Mary Helen’s mold, they broke it, so there could only be one. Full of joy, fire, and fun, when you were with her the time was anything but boring. She lived life and loved her family to the fullest. She always seemed to be at the center of some good-natured fun or mischief. Raised in the school of hard knocks and the church of life, she knew how to handle the good times or bad. While not in a pew every Sunday, she prayed daily and knew her Savior. She was often heard quoting the Bible, “Where two or more are gathered in my name I will be in the midst of them”. She knew the church wasn’t a building. It was what was in your heart.
Whether you called her Mama, Granny, Grandnana, or Little Mama she held many different roles in her life. Growing up during and shortly after WWII she was taught the value of hard work and the love of family. When she raised her children, that work ethic was passed on. They learned how to milk cows, shear sheep, and deliver kid goats and calves. She worked for the State of Tennessee at the Cedar Forest Park for many years. Her mothering spirit showed through as she picked up extra work as a caregiver sitting with elderly people.
She always wanted to impart some of her knowledge and fun-loving spirit to her family. The grandkids remember her as their unofficial Driver’s Ed Teacher. Her methods were a little unorthodox. The first lesson was to learn to drive in reverse to prove you were ready to drive forward. After they mastered driving forward, she shared the secret of driving all the way through Lebanon at 22 mph, to not have to stop at a traffic light. Other important lessons included how to do 100 mph on the interstate or when to make the grandkids go to sleep on long road trips. The luckiest fisherman in the group, she managed to catch the biggest fish or turtle on any outing. One of her greatest talents was being able to dance. It wasn’t unheard of for her to pull over on Broad Street crank the music and cut a rug to show everyone how to do it right.
It didn’t take a lot to make her happy. Wherever she went it was certain she would have a pack of Juicy Fruit close at hand. When Homer was living, he was the designated coffee go getter. All she had to do was just holler and he would round up a hot cup of joe. Sitting down to watch her stories from the Bold and The Beautiful or the Deadliest Catch, or Wheel of Fortune were a great way to wile the hours away. The happiest moments of her life were spent being with her family. They will fondly remember her feisty spirit, love of fun, and zest for life in the years to come.
Visitation will be held at Gentry-Smith Funeral Home on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, from 4-8 pm and on Thursday, May 4, 2023, from 11-2 pm. Funeral services follow in the Gentry-Smith Funeral Home chapel at 2 pm. Interment will be in Bradley Creek Cemetery. Share memories and condolences with the family at www.gentrysmithfuneralhome.com Gentry-Smith Funeral Home, 303 Murfreesboro Rd. Woodbury, TN 37190, 615-563-5337. Because every life has a story.