Ola Esther Sutcliffe, age 98, of Sparta, Tennessee, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones, on May 4, 2021. Ola was born in Clarkrange, Tennessee, on May 28, 1922, to Clara Tinch Smith and Fred Smith. She graduated from Clarkrange High School in 1940 and continued her education at the Nashville Business College. Upon graduation from the college, she went to Michigan to search of employment. Her future husband, Jim, spotted her from the balcony of the First United Methodist Church in Wayne, Michigan, and it was love at first sight and a marriage that lasted 78 years. Ola was a devoted mother to Rita and Barry and was also a loving friend who cherished and supported her many friends from diverse backgrounds.
Ola did administrative secretarial work on army bases while her husband was in military service during World War II. The last 22 years of her secretarial career were for the Van Buren Public Schools in Belleville, Michigan, a job she truly loved and where she made many close, life long friends of staff, parents and children.
She lived a life of service focused on her Christian faith. Having grown up in the Clarkrange Methodist Church, she was a member of the Wayne First United Methodist Church for 55 years where she held many offices, taught Sunday School, was a staunch UMW member and was the initiator of many programs, including Fish, a feeding program.
Her family often heard her say, “I have 3 loves-God first, family second, and church, third.” Ola also coordinated and conducted worship services at a local nursing home for 13 years, until she moved to Sparta. One of her favorite service projects was being an active member of the Chuck Colson Prison Ministry and she ministered to the inmates of the Milan Michigan Federal Prison faithfully for 5 years.
In 1996, she and Jim moved to Sparta, TN where they joined the First United Methodist Church and she continued volunteering and serving, focusing on home visitation of shut-ins and elderly. She was a great lover of nature and rose early to greet the day, commune with God and steal a few moments for her journaling and creative writing.
Ola is survived by her husband of 78 years, James A. Sutcliffe and daughter Rita Sutcliffe and a host of much loved nieces and nephews. Ola was preceded in death by her parents Clara and Fred Smith, brother Christopher Smith (Dovie), and sisters Lois Jones (O.L.), Ovadean Cross (Ray) and son, Barry Sutcliffe.
To be safe, the family ask please remember to wear your mask and adhere to six foot social distancing guidelines.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 2:30 pm at the Clarkrange Methodist Church. Burial will follow in the Clarkrange Cemetery.
The family will receive friends on Saturday, May 8, 2021 from 2:00 pm to 2:30 pm at Clarkrange Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the First United Methodist Church of Sparta or the Nashville Rescue Mission.