Mava Lee Williams Barfield was born January 28, 1943 in Hartsville, SC and was the daughter of the late Heyward and Mary Whitworth Williams. She was a 1961 graduate of Hartsville High School and enjoyed their Class get togethers, often traveling great distances to attend reunions and to visit with her childhood friends until her later years. After graduation, she married her high school sweetheart, Johnny William Barfield, and their life together was full of adventure as they moved every five years to take advantage of Johnny's career opportunities. During their 39 years of marriage, the couple lived in SC, NC, VT, Northern NY, AL, and AR and in each community in which they lived, Mava found ways to become involved and made lasting friendships. Johnny and Mava had three children: Andrea, Johanna, and Patrick. Mava was a good student with an insatiable need to learn and wanted to pursue a teaching degree when she graduated from high school, but the opportunity to attend college was not available at that time. Instead, she earned a secretarial science degree which she proceeded to put to good use as she worked to support her young family while Johnny earned his degree. Her first position was as a legal secretary, and then she became secretary to the head of the Textile Science Department at Clemson University. In the mid-1970's, Mava began taking classes (sometimes with one of her children in tow) and earned her AA degree from Craven Community College in New Bern, NC. She continued her studies after the family moved to a rural community in VT, driving several hours through winding, snowy roads to attend classes at Johnson State College in Johnson, VT. In 1981, with her proud husband and three children there to celebrate her accomplishment, Mava was awarded a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. She began her teaching career as the only Kindergarten teacher at a small school in North Stratford, NH. She was proud and honored to realize years later the impact she had on that first class when she was asked to come back and speak at their high school graduation. After the family's next move to Northern NY, Mava secured a position as a second grade teacher and immediately embarked on her journey to obtain a Masters in Education. She taught all day, took classes at night, and raised her children, all the while setting an example for them of the value of hard work and perseverance in achieving one's goals. In 1987, she was awarded her MS in Elementary Education by the State University of New York at Potsdam with a 4.0 GPA. When the family was transferred to Northwest AL in 1989, Mava became a second grade teacher at the University of North Alabama's Kilby Laboratory School where she not only taught her second-graders but helped train future teachers. After a move to AR a few years later, she transitioned to the final phase of her teaching career when she became a Literacy Specialist with the State of Arkansas' Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative. Here she was responsible for developing reading improvement programs and initiatives and training teachers in their implementation. She later said that this was the most enjoyable and fulfilling phase of her career. It allowed her to travel to schools and literacy conferences to give presentations that shared her love for children's books and provided training methods to incorporate them into the classroom. She always told her children to "bloom where you are planted" and she certainly did. After retirement, Mava focused on her grandchildren and moved to Moody, AL to be closer to her son, Patrick's family and help care for Maddie and Tanner. She made frequent road trips to Greenville, SC to visit her other grandchildren, Hayden, Shea, and William earning her the nickname "Go Go Grammy." Visits with Grammy included baking, stacks of new children's books, and some messy project that only a grandparent would attempt. She was a dedicated spectator at countless softball games and theatrical and musical productions. Grammy loved family vacations at the beach and could be found at the water's edge with a book and her toes in the sand but could always be interrupted to build a sand castle or to look for shells. Mava was a family historian and left behind a lifetime of research (compiled before the days of Ancestry.com) gathered by interviewing surviving family members, trekking through cemeteries chalking gravestones, and spending countless hours staring at microfiche. She gifted her family with binders and boxes of carefully organized family trees, many reaching to pre-Revolutionary times. If possible, she wanted more than dates and statistics - often looking for a story that made the person "real." These are the things that made her real. During the VT years, she and Johnny loved to go dancing on Friday nights with good friends, Danny and Susan Lepine, and she learned to Polka and do the French Two Step. She made a delicious lemon pie only as a gift for others until her family complained. Afterward, two pies were made - one to give and one to keep. Every Christmas, she made German Potato Candy, an old family recipe - not because it was a fan favorite, but because it was tradition; and she taught every grandchild how to make it. She loved daisies and was known to pull over and pick them if found growing wild beside the road and was a speed demon on a snowmobile. She was an incredible and loyal friend and her friendships were for life. She worked hard at cultivating those relationships and distance didn't matter - she called, emailed, and found ways to visit. She missed those connections in her later years and loved the cards and letters that were showered on her even when she was unable to communicate back. She became a member of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1980's. She was very devout and found ways to serve at each parish she attended. Her final parish was St. Theresa of the Child Jesus in Leeds, AL. In her final years, as her health began to fail, Mava moved to Greenville, SC to be closer to Andrea and Johanna. As Alzheimer's took so much away from her, she found peace in her role as an educator, living in the memories of teaching others. Mava is survived by her children, Andrea Bolger, Johanna Waters (David), and John Patrick Barfield (Candice); five grandchildren, Hayden Waters, Catherine Shea Waters, Madelyn Barfield, John Tanner Barfield, and William Bolger; former husband, Johnny Barfield; nephew, Kelly Williams, and Barfield nieces and nephews; and many close friends who were like family including David and Kitty Alverson, friends of 50+ years. In addition to her parents, Mava was preceded in death by her brother, Kenneth Williams; a beloved aunt and uncle, Virginia and Deskau Steele; and her special friend and sweetheart, Walter King. To honor her teaching legacy and passion for reading, the Mava W. Barfield Literacy Account has been established to help fund the literacy initiatives at the Thomas E. Kerns Elementary School in Greenville, SC. Memorials may be made to Andrea B. Bolger and/or Johanna B. Waters, ref: the Mava W. Barfield Literacy Account, and sent to First Citizens Bank, 2201 Augusta St., Greenville, SC 29605. A graveside service will be held on Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. in the Christ Episcopal Churchyard. Condolences may be left for the family by visiting www.thomasmcafee.com.
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