Cover photo for Ora Ruth Hall's Obituary
1934 Ora 2024

Ora Ruth Hall

January 17, 1934 — April 13, 2024

Mt. Juliet, Tennessee

Mrs. Ora Ruth (Marshall) Hall, 90, of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee went on to be with the Lord on Saturday, April 13, 2024. She was born on Wednesday, January 17, 1934 in Springfield, Tennessee to the late Gilbert Frank and Clara Ollie (Ennis) Marshal, Sr. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Ellis Clayton "Cotton" Hall; brothers, Howard Marshall, William "Bub" Marshall, James Marshall, Gilbert "Dutch" Marshall Jr., and Leonard Matthew Marshall; and sisters, Elizabeth Hill and Jean Moore.

She is survived by her daughters, Gayla Dewan Hood, Ellen Claudette (Rick) Smith, and Twila Reneé (Billy Thomas Wilson, Jr.) Hall; grandchildren, Elliott Bailey, Ethan Favorite, Gary Papai, Tyler Smith, and Spenser Smith; great grandchildren, Layna Favorite, Auren Papai, Angelina Papai, and Lyric Papai; great-great granddaughter, Amelia Ahmad; and special friend, Fancie (Lewis) Ely.

The Marshall family had their work cut out for them when their active bundle of joy, Ora, came into their lives. There wasn't an idle moment with her, and that was exactly how Ora preferred to live her life. Being born and raised in Springfield on their family farm, she could catch rabbits with the best of them, tend to the livestock with joy in her heart, and be out in the field no matter what the weather. That country upbringing prepared Ora more than she could have ever imagined because the Marshall family got caught in the storms of this life.

While still struggling with the effects of the Great Depression, tragedy struck the family. Mrs. Clara died the day after giving birth to Ora'a baby sister, Jean, and at 5 years old, she now would be looking to her older sister, Elizabeth, and the women in the community to teach her how to be a lady. The only issue with that was the men in her life far outnumbered the women, so Ora not only wrote the words for her life but also composed her own music. 

If you think the tune could have been named "A Country Girl Can Survive," you'd probably be right. Ora had unmatched grit and determination in life, and it showed time and time again. As a teenager, tragedy struck the Marshall family again, and Mr. Gilbert was crippled. Ora began being her father's caretaker, dropped out of school, and began working all within a short time span. Her resilience and ability to push through the hardships in life may seem a mystery, but for Ora, she didn't let anything get her down because she knew she had the final victory.

Growing up in the Methodist church, Ora found God through the talent Mrs. Clara passed on to her — her voice. People told Ora that Mrs. Clara had the most beautiful singing voice, and she could be heard throughout the farm and neighboring farms. It seemed her mother's melodious voice carried across the sanctuary in Ora’s mind because the old gospel hymns stayed ringing in her ears. "There's within my heart a melody; Jesus whispers sweet and low, 'Fear not, I am with you, peace, be still,' in all of life's ebb and flow." And it was Jesus that kept her singing as she went along life's dreary way with a peace that passed all understanding.

Now, that doesn't mean Ora lived a life of only burden as a child. It was to the contrary. She knew how to work hard and how to enjoy herself. As a child, she had a crafty mind and could be a little mischievous at times. When the Marshall family moved into town to be closer to some assistance from the community, Ora knew just how to get her sweet tooth filled and when to slip out the door with friends. After losing so much, Mr. Gilbert was strict with his children, and Ora had to sneak away to go skating or swimming. One time she sprained her wrists and quickly came up with the story that she had been running and fell in a ditch so her father wouldn’t worry. 

Staying in Springfield until her early 20s worked out well for Ora, but when it was time to leave, she found herself working as a waitress in a Nashville diner. It was there that she met her future husband, Clayton. Not one to let it be unknown what she wanted, Ora made sure Clayton had water sitting at the table before he made it over, and Clayton didn't hide the fact that Ora had caught his eye as well. Something between the two clicked, and their courtship continued. Going for a drive on the old country roads and tuning in to the Grand Ole Opry on a Saturday night in Woodbury became one of her favorite outings. She lit up when Jim Reeves, Fats Domino, and George Jones came on the radio. 

Whether it was her hardy laugh, good sense of humor, kind heart, humble spirit, or a combination of them that won Clayton over, we may never know, but the two were happily married on September 24, 1955. They quickly fell into their roles as a couple, and after all of Ora's experience, she knew how to be the boss. Luckily for Clayton, she took that talent into the workforce, working as a supervisor for U.S. Tobacco Company (now Altria) until 1996. Just like with Clayton, Ora won people over. She was loved and admired by her coworkers and was an excellent motivator to get the job done. Her tenacity came from her desire to be a worker for the Lord, and it spilled over into everything that she did. Even though work was important to Ora, she still had her priorities in line.

True to her Scots-Irish ancestry, she was wholly devoted to her family as a wife and mother. The backbone of the family, she worked tirelessly to ensure her girls had a better start to life than she did. She taught them everything she could on how to be a lady as well as the practical things in life, like sewing with a machine and by hand. During the summers, she and Clayton made a point to take the girls camping all around Cannon County, where Clayton was from. Ora would let her countryside show when they would go hunting crawfish. Before the girls could blink, Ora would have her arms up to her shoulders in water, digging under the rocks for crawfish. Then, she'd throw them out on the bank for the girls. Many memories were made on their trips out to the country, but Ora made sure the city still held fond memories for the girls. 

Those little things we think that we won't miss can often become the things we remember most. Ora had a knack for knowing when something had been moved and was now out of place, which the girls can look back on and laugh about now, but Ora also used that memory to know and keep up with every person's birthday. From the mundane to the special days, Ora made each one better. The weekends were an especially important block of time for Ora. Saturdays were still a day for memories, and Ora enjoyed taking the girls out for Krispy Kreme donuts in Nashville. Sundays held a special place, and Ora taught her girls about Jesus while demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit on a daily basis. They remember her singing those precious old hymns in the house throughout the day.

Just like her mother did to her, she passed along one of her talents to each of her daughters. To Gayla, it was her way with words. They both have excelled in writing poetry. To Ellen, it was her craftiness. Both of their hands are creative and have made beautiful works of art with crotchet needles. To Twila, it was her leadership. They both have rallied people around them, motivated them through tough times, and gotten the job done.

Ora led with love and discipline in all aspects of her life and wanted to be sure to send the light wherever she went. She was a Bible sharer, not a Bible thumper, and lived her life in a way to keep people seeking what made her so different. To meet Ora was to love her. To talk to Ora was to feel loved. To work with Ora was to feel appreciated. You couldn't be with Ora and not feel like she was putting your needs before her own.

That sacrificial nature turned her into someone you could go to with any problem and anticipate sage advice with a mother's touch. You didn't have to be blood-related to be family, and Ora made that clear through her actions. In many instances, she functioned as a maternal figure for people, and her momma's heart kept her reassuring her children and others that everything was going to be okay. She had a certain glow about her that could light up a room, and it amplified when she had the opportunity to host people with her genuine Southern hospitality.

Throughout her life, Ora overcame the odds with her own little twist to it. She dropped out of school but excelled at crossword puzzles and had an extensive vocabulary. She didn't get the opportunity to play sports but found enjoyment watching the Chicago Cubs and paved the way for her grandsons to be able to play baseball. With her mother gone and her father crippled, traveling was out of the question as a child, but she traveled with her daughters in her 60s to places like Key West and the Grand Canyon. Ora went from a bleak beginning to doing anything from playing the slot machines at casinos to deep sea fishing.

That active little girl stayed running and rolling with the punches well into her elder years relying on Jesus to carry her through. To her, it wasn't overcoming the odds because she kept too much optimism in her life to be down on herself or her circumstances. Now she can sing, "Since I walked in the pathway of duty, since I worked till the close of the day, I have seen the great King in His beauty, and I've gone the last mile of the way."

Share memories and condolences at www.gentrysmithfuneralhome.com Gentry-Smith Funeral Home, 303 Murfreesboro Rd. Woodbury, TN 37190, 615-563-5337 Because every life has a story

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