Macon County Chronicle

Thelma Dean (Birdwell) Anderson

After living life to the fullest and with her sister by her side, in her seventy-ninth year of life, Thelma Dean (Birdwell) Anderson died peacefully on March 15, 2021, from cardiac arrest. Her loss was completely unexpected with family and friends deeply saddened.

Thelma graced her presence entering this world on October 27, 1941, in Clay County, Tennessee. As the daughter of William (Bill) and Rosa (Dodson) Birdwell, she grew to be a dependable, hard-working, loving, and humorous lady. She met and married the love of her life, Kenneth Wayne Anderson, who preceded her in death. In passing, they have left behind four children: Deno Anderson and his wife Diana, residing in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Randy Anderson and his wife, Rita residing in Summer Shade, Kentucky; Brian Keith, residing in Lafayette, Tennessee, and Angie and her fiancé Michael T. Brown residing in Lafayette, Tennessee; three brothers, Dale Birdwell and his wife Margaret residing in Celina, Tennessee, Wayne Birdwell and his wife Gail residing in Hermitage Springs, Tennessee, and Leon Birdwell and his wife Susan residing in Moss, Tennessee; one sister, Jackie Burnette, and her husband Billy residing in Moss, Tennessee.  In addition, she has five grandchildren, two bonus grandchildren, and three (and one on the way) great-grandchildren.

In addition to her parents and spouse, she was preceded in death by two brothers, Glyn Birdwell and her infant brother Jerry Birdwell.

Thelma met and made friendships and lasting impressions through her working journey through the garment factories in Celina, Tennessee and Gamaliel, Kentucky, and lastly as City Clerk at Gamaliel City Hall. She attended the Union Hill Church of Christ, later attended Gamaliel United Methodist Church and lastly Harvest Fellowship Church in Red Boiling Springs.

Anyone that knew Thelma knew she had a serious, hard-working side to get the job done effectively, efficiently, and quality-minded. She was not afraid to speak up about her work and what was best for the company or community of Gamaliel. She took pride in everything she did to do the best job possible. Thelma also had a funny side as she was not afraid to be silly, like riding a carousel with her mother and sister, playing a prank on her brothers, trick Kenneth Wayne by putting margarine in his butter wrapper. When Randy, Terry, Lauren, Chip, and Ashley were small you would see her playing ball, coloring, reading a book, playing in the pool, doing the Nutcracker dance and so many more fun things. She loved her grandchildren dearly. When her first great-grandchild, Eliot, was born, you could see the love and happiness on her face as she played with him. She was excited about the future birth of her next great-grandchild that is to be born this upcoming June.

When her children were in school, Kenneth Wayne and she rarely missed a ballgame- no matter how far away! It was not unusual to see Thelma playing volleyball and tennis back in the day. She looked forward to Sunday dinners at her mother and father’s house which all her brothers and sisters with their families would come to visit. You would see her walk with Kenneth Wayne on the sidewalks in Gamaliel and then later at the Monroe County Wellness Center. She would be the first to tell you she had “three Saturdays” each week as many would come to her home on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to play cards, work a puzzle, or simply visit. Traveling was a favorite thing to do as she was always ready to go in an instant. State Parks and National Parks were always a joy as she loved walking and seeing the beauty in nature such as our area waterfalls, mountains, and lakes. She was a fantastic seamstress. She could make almost anything without a pattern. She recently made a quilt out of softball jerseys for a great-niece. And shopping.... she could look in a store for hours and go up and down every aisle and find a bargain or just have a great time looking, purchasing nothing.

Thelma’s friends and family will dearly miss her more than words can say. She will be laid to rest on Friday, March 19, at the Mount Vernon Cemetery in Clay County, Tennessee. Funeral services will be conducted at 11:00 am Friday, March 19 at Bartley and Sons Gamaliel Chapel. On Thursday, March 18, visitation will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Bartley and Sons Gamaliel Chapel in Gamaliel, Kentucky, and on Friday, March 20 after 9:00 am until time for services at 11:00 am.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations are made to the Mount Vernon Cemetery Committee. Bartley & Sons Gamaliel Chapel is both honored and privileged to be entrusted with the care of Mrs. Thelma Anderson.