We can never lose what we have once enjoyed: all that we deeply love becomes part of us, such as the beautiful memories we all share of Marva Dean Bell Williams-Weaver. Marva transitioned peacefully on Saturday, January 7, 2023. Her nurturing, giving spirit spanned her 84 years of life and had a lasting effect on everyone who came in contact with her vivacious being.
Marva was a lifelong member of Mt. Canaan Baptist Church, where she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior as a young child. She served dutifully as a Deaconess, alongside her husband Frank, for many years. Her family roots in Mt. Canan Baptist Church ran deep with her father as a deacon and her grandfather, Mart Campbell’s organization of the Fifth Sunday Singing Fellowship. Marva loved music and had a melodic first soprano voice that would captivate all who listened. She was a longtime member of the Section One A-Division Choir.
Working in the church, Marva was dedicated to the youth of Mt. Canaan and worked tirelessly as the youth sponsor for many years. She would spend countless hours practicing the Canaanite choir and transporting children to Section and District practices and events. Marva worked alongside Mrs. Teresa Keaton to ensure that the Section One A-Division youth were ready and actively participating. She would also make sure, through hours of practice, all the Mt. Canaan youth were prepared for every Easter and Christmas speech and play performance. She truly loved each child as her own.
Marva was affectionately known as “Gran Gran” to many in Gurdon. Her home was always open, and she was always available to babysit. Marva would do mass school pick-ups for the children and always have a “sack lunch” of sandwiches and juice ready for them when they entered the car. Marva was an extraordinary cook who gained insurmountable joy feeding everyone she could. Her passion was feeding family, friends, and even strangers. There was never a time when you entered her home that she didn’t have food cooking or ready to be served. People would travel far and wide for her cornbread.
As a nurturer, she loved seeing things grow. Her green thumb allowed her home to be filled with beautiful flowers. She also extended her growing talents to gardening. She eagerly tried to pass this talent on to her children by always giving them starter plants with specific instructions and orders to “bring it back to me if you can’t take care of it.” Marva also had a knack for letting people know exactly what she thought, whether they wanted to hear it or not.
Marva loved her family and would do whatever she could for them. She loved spending quality time on family cruises and vacations. She also enjoyed spending memorable time with her granddaughter Shelbi, as she told her about the “good old days.” They would spend countless hours in Granny’s recliner, laughing and talking.
Marva was a 1956 graduate of Bell High School in Gurdon, Arkansas. After graduation, her curiosity about the world got the best of her as she spread her wings and moved to New York City, where she worked for a short time as a nursing assistant.
While living in New York, she met the love of her life, Frank Williams. Frank was a New York transit driver, and as Marva entered the doors of his bus, he declared to her that she would one day be his wife. Of course, Marva scoffed at the comment, but love blossomed, and they were married in December 1961. Four children (John, Dovetta, Erica, and David) were born into their beautiful union. Their love was one of wonder, dedication, and commitment until the untimely passing of her dear husband, Frank, on September 19, 1986. On September 4, 1998, Marva married Wallace Weaver. Theirs was a longtime friendship that turned into a lovely union. Marva and Wallace were happily married until his passing on February 6, 2013.
Marva was preceded in death by her parents, John and Rosebud Bell, her brothers, James William Bell and Elmer Bell, and her sisters, Katie Wimberly and Rosemary Stovall.
Her children will forever cherish Marva’s life and legacy, John (Sophia) Williams of New Brunswick, GA, Dovetta Byers of Little Rock, AR, Erica (Danny) Hart, and David Williams of Gurdon, AR; twelve grandchildren, Mowalique, Chardene, Kayla, Konstance, Datton, Walter Jr., Shelbi, Deion, Jaylen, Corbin, Jamal, and Rayann; four great-grandchildren, a host of nieces and nephews, two special god-daughters, Rhonda Stephens and Connie Nelson and numerous cousins, extended family, and friends.
Services will be at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 15, 2023 at Mt. Canaan Baptist Church with Rev. Johnny Harris, eulogist and Dr. Lewis A. Shepherd, Jr., officiating. Mrs. Weaver will lie in state one hour prior to service time. Interment will be at Shady Grove Cemetery in Beirne. The family will receive friends from 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 14, 2023 at the funeral home.
Morocco Arnold, Zanoah Arnold, Wayne Davenport, Jarrod Harris, Nico Hobbs and Davion Williams will serve as pallbearers. Honorable to mention are the Deacons and Trustees of Mt. Canaan Baptist Church.