Nannie Lou Davis Hall, 81
Published 8:25 am Friday, November 11, 2022
Nannie Lou Davis Hall, of Speedwell, Tennessee, died of complications from throat cancer at the age of eighty-one at the Crownsville, Maryland home of her daughter, Pamala Lofton Holt, on Monday, March 8, 2010. This belated obituary is to honor the life and legacy of “Mama Lou.”
Lou Davis Hall was born January 9, 1929, in Middlesboro, Kentucky, the only daughter of Haze Aaron Davis, a farmer, live-long educator, and Powell Valley High School principal, and Naoma Edwards Davis, a school teacher and home-maker. Lou spent her early childhood years on the family farm on Back Valley Road, Speedwell, Tennessee, a farm that had been in her family since the mid-eighteenth century. During her early and challenging 1930’s Depression years, Lou was a master student of “learning by doing;” she learned her lifelong gardening and farming skills at her father’s elbow and acquired her gifts of homemaking and caring for others from the selfless example of her mother. At the age of fourteen, she became literally a second mother to her younger and only brother, Larry Tom Davis, whom she adored and cherished her whole life. Lou was an eager student in school, favorite of both teachers and peers, but just as happy to have a fishing pole in her hand. She was a key member of the Powell Valley High School basketball team.
Upon graduation, she enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she met and fell in love with another college student, a handsome former United States Navy sailor, Giles Leon Lofton. On March 20, 1948, they eloped and married in Rossville, Georgia. In 1949, Lou gave birth to her only child (“her greatest lifelong joy”), a daughter, Pamela Ann Lofton, and the family lived on the family farm in Speedwell until Giles graduated from college in 1950. In 1951, the family moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where Giles worked as an auditor for over twenty years with the Atomic Energy Commission, now the Department of Energy. In Oak Ridge, Lou balanced work as an “seamstress-artist” (years later she made Pam’s wedding dress), school volunteer, and care-giver to her family and anyone in need.
In 1971, Giles and Lou moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland, where Giles served in several management positions in Washington, D.C. In 1981, Giles died, but Lou continued to live there for years. In 1984, upon returning to the family home in Speedwell to care for her ailing mother, Lou renewed the relationship with her high school boyfriend, Robert (Bob) Emery Hall, then living close by, and on November 6, 1985, they married. They established a residence and lived in Sumter, South Carolina, until Bob’s death in 1988. In 2007, Lou returned to ”her roots” and the family farm in Speedwell, where she lived until her death in 2010.
“Mama Lou” was a life-long care giver. As a child, she dreamed of being a nurse, and she made that dream come true in her selfless care for others: raising a younger brother, nurturing a daughter, supporting two husbands, caring for two dying parents, offering a hand to anyone in need, and spoiling three grandsons. Her strength was rooted in her deep and quiet Christian faith. She had the grit, passion, and determination of her father and open-warm heart of her mother. Lou had the magic gift to “make every person feel special,” and this was always evident when anyone sat at her table for a meal. Holidays and birthdays were like the “feast prepared for the prodigal son.” She always said, “at the table there is always good food and love to go around.” Lou had a “doctorate degree (PHD)” in life—she could repair or fix anything, she savored the magic of the seasons on the farm, she had a “green thumb” and grew the most beautiful flowers and her garden fed the multitude of Powell Valley, she embraced the mystery of “hooking” that evasive Walleye or Bass in Norris Lake, and she laughed with a joy that was contagious. Her “pearls of wisdom” ring in our ears every day. But Lou’s words were not her witness, her legacy is her life that was “a sermon to see.”
Mama Lou is survived by her sole daughter, Pamela Lofton Holt and husband John Beadle Holt (of Annapolis, Maryland); grandsons—John Lofton Holt and wife Ekaterina Holt (living in Europe), Christopher Aaron Holt and wife Margo Hennigan (of New York, New York), and Dr. Patrick Andrew Holt (of Salisbury, Maryland); and six great grandchildren—Josephine Haze Holt and Louisa Eve Holt (daughters of John Lofton), Henry Tyler Holt and Ethan Cooper Holt (sons of Patrick Andrew), and Elizabeth Anne Holt and Lucy Catherine Holt (daughters of Christopher Aaron). Lou is also survived by the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of her second husband Robert Emery Hall. Her sole bother, Larry Tom Davis, survived Lou but died on November 4, 2022. The family celebrated Lou’s life together with friends at Cawood Funeral Home in Middlesboro, Kentucky on March 12, 2010. The interment was at Yoakum Cemetery in Speedwell Tennessee, on March 13, 2010.