Ella Mae (Sheppard) Hobbs
May 24, 1930–September 7, 2019
Ella Mae (Sheppard) Hobbs, age 89, died on September 7, 2019, at Beacon Place hospice center in Greensboro. Born in Stokes County, Mae moved to Randolph County as a child. Growing up in the Depression and World War II years, she and her five sisters, along with her parents, experienced a hard-scrabble but love-filled life that she remembered fondly. After graduating from Randleman High School in 1948, Mae began working in the “big city” of Greensboro at the Blue Bell textile company, where she met her husband, Douglas Hobbs. After their marriage in 1954, they built a home in southeastern Guilford County, where their three daughters were born. Following the death of Doug’s parents, they built a second home on his homeplace farm, where Doug and Mae resided for the rest of their lives. Their children worked (sometimes unwillingly) alongside their parents in their always-too-big gardens, happily ran through the woods and swam in the ponds with their parents’ blessing, and played with the many other children in the tightly knit neighborhood. In Mae’s final weeks of life, one of her greatest joys was the devotion and many kindnesses shown by those neighborhood children, whom she considered to be “part mine.”
Following his retirement from his tile-setting business, Mae and Doug began raising vegetables and flowers that they sold at various farmers markets. For many years, they manned a table at the Greensboro Curb Market, where Mae loved socializing with the other vendors and customers: She was definitely a “people person.”
After Doug died in 1995, Mae found great joy in her church family. She actively participated in Sunday school and church services, Bible studies, the Agape circle, the quilting group, and Open Door activities. A greeter at church, she loved hugging everyone. She greatly enjoyed going on church-sponsored senior trips and attending senior luncheons. Pastor Kyle Goodman and assistant pastor Jessica Rigel faithfully visited and prayed with Mae when she was no longer able to attend services. Her family is also deeply grateful to the many church members who visited her during her illness, providing great comfort to her and letting her know that she was loved.
For many years, Mae also joined in her Red Hat group’s adventures—and had many red hats and purple clothes to prove her devotion. Until her recent health problems, she also participated in twice-weekly senior exercise sessions at Brown Recreation Center, where she loved the exercise leaders and her fellow participants; they kept her active and feeling younger than the calendar suggested for many, many years.
A constant throughout Mae’s life was her five sisters, with whom she remained extraordinarily close. “The aunts” loved to travel together, and their get-togethers were marked by raucous laughter and hilarious tales of their childhood. As the sisters’ numbers dwindled, their children took up their mothers’ mantles in keeping the family connected. Mae’s daughters would like to thank their cousins for their ongoing support and kindnesses as their mother’s health failed.
Mae was, above all, a great mom. She was a stay-at-home mother for most of her daughters’ childhood, who made their young lives happy while still maintaining discipline. She was a room mother and a willing chaperone/chauffeur on their school field trips. She answered the call when they volunteered that “My mother will drive” or “My mother will make it” (though her adult daughters now wonder how happily she did so). On rainy school days, she drove up their long driveway to wait for their school bus’s arrival so they wouldn’t have to walk to the house in the rain. She carried that same attitude into their adult years, always willing to lend a hand or an ear as they raised their own families. She adored her four grandsons and loved them unconditionally.
Mae loved ice cream, juicy peaches, and a good tomato sandwich. She made awesome peanut butter fudge and whipped up the best-ever dressing for every Thanksgiving dinner. Sadly, the magic touch with the dressing goes with her, as none of her daughters has ever managed to replicate it.
Mae did not live a large life, filled with accolades and public acclaim. Instead, hers was a small life, but one rich with joy and strong connections to others. People responded to her kindness by showing many kindnesses in turn. Her family is especially grateful for the loving care shown by the staffs of Wesley Long Hospital and Beacon Place in her final weeks of life.
Mae was preceded in death by her husband, Douglas Hobbs; her parents, Cleveland and Bessie (Hall) Sheppard; and her sisters, Mildred Joyce, Opal Hemphill, Jewell Cox, and Mary Small. She is survived by her sister Peggy Lineberry; her daughters Sandi Abachizadeh (Bahram), Jill Hobbs, and Tina Hobbs; and her grandsons Sean Sugg and Nema, Nicu, and Joshua Abachizadeh.
A funeral service will be held at Alamance Presbyterian Church on September 12, 2019, at 11:00 AM. Her family will greet family and friends one hour before the service in the Gathering Room. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Mae’s memory be directed to Beacon Place, 2502 Summit Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27405 or Alamance Presbyterian Church, Food Pantry, 4000 Presbyterian Road, Greensboro, NC 27406. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Triad Cremation & Funeral Service of Greensboro NC.
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