On August 26, 2020, the LORD gathered our mother, Grace Smalling Cartee, age 88, into His arms and carried her home. Several years of declining health took its toll, and we are sure it was with great relief when she put her arms around His neck and leaned her head against His chest. She is now most assuredly in the middle of a glorious reception and celebration in Heaven! Hallelujah!
Grace was born in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, to Clarence and Alice ‘Carey’ Smalling and was the third in line of four children. Where is Bell Buckle, you ask? It is nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of Middle Tennessee where famed Tennessee Walking Horses graze in the meadows. Grace’s childhood was spent on the Smalling farm located between Bell Buckle and Shelbyville. To four generations, the farm was home. Grace loved ‘home’ more than anyone. To her children and their cousins, Mammy and Pappy’s farm was a place of wonder, excitement, and adventure. Many precious stories are just waiting for the next telling.
School days included The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Central High School in Shelbyville and Huntington College in Montgomery, Alabama. The Webb School, you ask? Yes, it was indeed an all-boys preparatory school at that time. Grace and two of her girlfriends were allowed to attend as they sought high-quality education. Time spent there ended when the girlfriends opted for another school. No way was our grandfather going to allow Grace to continue solo among so many boys! She was not fazed a bit with the change, graduating from Central High School with salutatorian distinction.
It was at Huntington College that Grace met her true love, Ott, on a blind date. Six months later, they married. Ott hitchhiked from Auburn, Alabama, to Bell Buckle arriving at the church a tad late, but he made it! We’re so glad!
Grace loved the beauty in this world. She would slam on the car brakes and pull over to stand in awe of a cloud-filled sky on a cerulean blue background or leap out with a trowel in hand to uproot verdant moss growing in the woods. Do you want to know about the time she tore down an abandoned standing chimney on the home place, loaded the bricks onto a trailer, and hauled them home to Nashville to build a patio? That’s our mama!
Exploration was a constant as Grace loved stopping at roadside shops and flea markets with kids in tow sneezing up dust and whining to go home. Undeterred, she could find a treasure, take it home, and make something beautiful out of the most meager materials. She was a wonderful artist, seamstress, musician, writer, and most of all a great mother.
Grace began her working career as a newspaper society columnist, moved on to work as an assistant in an architect’s office, and with culminated experience in the field, an accomplished business woman in interior design. She owned her business, Grace’s Interiors - Antiques and Gifts, and over time set up shop in four different locations. As a young girl, playing ‘store’ was a favorite activity. She would collect a menagerie of goods, construct shelves, and put out the ‘open’ sign for pretend customers. It is no surprise that Grace became the business woman she was. Her passion and creativity were shared with many not only in person but also in print as her work was featured several times in Southern Living and Country Living magazines.
One more endearing and admirable characteristic of Grace is that she dearly loved to dress up! She loved to dress up for work, dress up for church, dress up for date-night with Daddy, and dress me up! Oh mercy, those crinolines! Thank goodness the flouncy was traded for the fitted as she stitched every prom dress with love. And my brothers? Rest assured, they were given her stylish touch as well. Her younger sister also benefited from her sense of style. Grace designed and sewed her a wool suit and bought her high heels to match. Suit and heels were worn proudly by her sister as she flew off to Germany with two toddlers in the middle of winter following her military husband. Grace’s parting comment as they waved and hugged goodbye was “Don’t you put a coat over that suit! You look too pretty to cover it up!”.
It is with much love that we, her children, honor Grace by sharing a few special moments of her life with you. These memories and so many more will live on in our hearts.
We want to especially thank those who loved Grace and cared for her at Cameron Hall in Canton and Manor Care in Marietta. She was such an independent soul that being dependent on others was a tough transition for her. In her life, we witnessed Mama on many occasion take the tiger by the tail and make things work, and the last couple of years were no different because you made her days brighter by your care, sweet smiles, hugs and words of encouragement. Thank you so much. Many special thanks as well to her friends and other family members and clergy who walked alongside her in her journey. She loved you all.
Grace was preceded in death by her brother, Ben, her parents, Clarence and Alice ‘Carey’ Smalling, her husband of 47 years, Ottis Aaron Cartee, and her brother, Clarence, Jr. She is survived by her sister, Zena Smalling Smith, her three children, Steven (wife, Kathy) Cartee, Stella (husband, Robert) Harper and Ben (wife, Elvira) Cartee. Her grandchildren are Lindsey, Lauren, Allen, Wesley, Keith, Melissa, Benjamin, and Christian. Her great-grandchildren are Harris, Lola, Hannah Marie, Hayes, Ryland, Brycen, Carrington, Lindsey, and Katie. And her great-great grandchildren are Charlie and his sister-on-the-way.
A celebration of Grace’s life will be determined at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to:
St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, Good Samaritan Fund, 3455 Canton Road, Marietta, GA 30066.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).
Scott Huskins Funeral & Cremation Services is in charge of the arrangements. 678.771.5566 | scotthuskins.com
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