Knox the Fox stays home: Celebrates Naomi Mintha Ownby’s 101 years

Knox the FoxOur Town Adventure Seekers

1923 was an amazing year in history. Lou Gehrig hit his first of 493 home runs. The first country music hit was recorded in Little Old Cabin in the Lane and the first mid-air refueling of planes was accomplished. Henry Kissinger, Alan Shepard, Charlton Heston, Bob Barker, Hank Williams and Naomi Mintha Ownby were born in 1923!

I want you to meet the very special Naomi Mintha Ownby who celebrated 101 on Sunday, June 30 with as many of her family and friends that could share this incredible day.

Naomi was born one of 11 children, number seven with eight sisters and two brothers. At 101, she has seen the passing of all but the baby sister, Bobby Ann Underwood. Bobby calls them the 7/11 club.

The family originated from Greenbrier in the Smoky Mountains, born in Jake’s Creek in Elkmont. Her father worked for the railroad and then felt called to be a pastor, serving in several churches in Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Wears Valley.

Mother Orleana was very special, raising 11 children on a pastor’s salary. Naomi’s life growing up in her big family was a very simple but hard life when compared to the conveniences that we have today. However, when she recalls those times, she says they did not know they were poor because of the love that was shared in her family.

Naomi married Bert Austin Farmer, Sr. in 1943 gaining two more wonderful parents and extending family.

Naomi and Bert had 5 beautiful children, starting with three: Patricia, Diane and Bert Jr. Eight years later, Kathy followed on young Bert’s birthday with Angie coming along five years after. Kathy jokes that the first three must have been “a little trying so the parents waited” to have more and Angie reminds the family all the time that she is still the baby.

All the children have spouses, but Naomi says there are no in-laws. “You are just her son, daughter, granddaughter or grandson or great granddaughter and great grandson.”

Bert called Naomi his Rose, except on the days that she made him mad, and then he called her Thorny. They were married 66 years, just shy of 67 years before he went to Heaven.

Kathy said if any of the children could have had the opportunity to choose, they would have chosen Naomi to be their mom.

“She was a mother that taught us from the start a sense of worth, and she believed that we were a gift from God. One of the youngest memories is her rocking us in the rocking chair and reading from the Bible story book. It pages worn from the many times it had been read.  She taught us about God and His Love for us. She loves Christmas and always tried to make it special. Her sisters started a tradition 60 years ago to get together on the first Saturday in December and spend the weekend together. As the girls came along you were able to join the group when you became 14. The great grand girls came along, they came when they were born. That tradition continues today.”

If you ask the 12 grandchildren or 23 great grandchildren, they will tell you Mamaw tells it to them straight, but without judgement and gives unconditional love and prays for them daily.

Naomi has always worked hard, and she is very talented. She sewed most all the children’s clothes through the school years. She was a 4-H leader and helped with 4-H projects, grew a garden, taught swimming lessons within the community, coached baseball when there was a need for a team coach, and taught Sunday school to the preschool class.

After the kids were in school, she went back and completed her GED, took business courses and went to work for Knox County for many years. That would be quite an accomplishment for any mother but especially one in her forties.

What does she think about being 101 years old?  She believes the Lord has her here for a reason and when it is her time, He will call her home. After two strokes in 2023 she requires full care assistance provided by her children in her home. She likes to watch game shows, college sports where she gets on to the officials. She loves going to church when she is able, having the Bible read to her and listening to gospel music.

Of all the monumental worldly changes since 1923, she said it was great when the telephone became available in the home so she could talk with friends and her sisters, except for party lines because of nosey people or those who did not share the phone as they should. The television stood out too, as it was fascinating to see actual places and people on the it. Later in life after Bert passed away, the iPad helped to keep her mind occupied with playing games, emailing friends, taking pictures, and looking at Facebook to see what others were doing.

I found a few words to describe Naomi Mintha Ownby from her daughter Kathy– Amazing, Strong, Beautiful, Godly, but one of best words is Prayer Warrior!

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