on Jul 08 in Obituaries posted by Dwight Olmstead
Lorraine Merriman Barnes, 99, died Monday, July 07, 2014. She was born Sept 22, 1914 to Lee Merriman and Nola Baker Merriman in Wynnewood, OK., the first of six children. The Merrimans later moved to Ripley County, MO where they lived on a farm at Poyner and later moved to Doniphan, MO.
She married the late John E. Barnes Sr. on Nov 11, 1942, in Corning, AR. This happened while John was on home on leave after joining the U.S. Army Air Corps the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Following the wedding, John and Lorraine moved to Connecticut where Airman Barnes trained on the maintenance of the Republic-built P-47 Thunderbolt.
After completing training, Barnes was assigned to the 63rd squadron, 56th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force and stationed at Halesworth air base in England for the duration of World War II. Mrs. Barnes returned to Doniphan to live with her parents.
Once World War II was over, John and “Suzy” (a nickname given to her by her husband) set up housekeeping in Cairo, ILL where John managed an automobile dealership established by his uncle. John Jr. was born there in 1948.
In 1953, the Barnes moved to Memphis where John Sr. sought employment in the auto industry and after several jobs started a career at American Motors, the manufacturers of Nash, later named Rambler. While in Memphis, a second child, Lisa, was born in 1954.
Founding members of Kingsway Christian Church in Memphis, John and Suzy were active in Church leadership with Suzy teaching Sunday School classes for young children and was responsible for starting a children’s worship service.
John Sr. was later transferred to Nashville, TN. Suzy would successfully start another children’s worship service at Woodmont Christian Church which became the center of the Barnes family life.
Having been taught the art of dressmaking by her mother, Susy taught sewing lessons at home and made custom clothing for clients. Her sewing talents were renowned by her friends and it was said she could observe a dress in a store window and replicate it without a pattern.
Suzy was a seamtress for many a prom dress and wedding dress for female members of her family.
In 1968, John and Suzy returned to Corning where John Sr. joined his cousin, Kip Woods, in the automobile and farm implement business there. With John Jr. in college and Lisa in high school, Suzy went to work outside the home for the first time in her life by working at Wood Department Store in Corning.
After John Sr. died in 1975 from a car wreck, Suzy moved to Heber Springs to be closer to her son and his wife Cheryl. Shortly after moving to Heber Springs, she was joined by her daughter, Lisa, who would marry Dwight Olmstead and become a mother to his son, Ryan. Four other grandchildren were born, and during Suzy’s years as a widow she devoted her skills to whatever her children or grandchildren needed even on a moment’s notice.
It was Ryan who gave Mrs. Barnes the name she cherished the most: “GeGe” because he could not pronounce grandmother. For the rest of her life, she was called GeGe by all . . .whether it be grandchildren, other family members, friends of the family, or the community at large.
She never met a stranger, and in her later years when she worked with Lisa and Dwight at Heber Springs Florist or Classic Casuals, she always had a smile on her face and was quick to handle a customer’s request.
She is survived by her son, John of Little Rock and his wife Debbie; her daughter, Lisa and her husband Dwight of Heber Springs; and daughter-in-law Cheryl Orr and her husband Frank of Heber Springs.
GeGe is also survived by five grandchildren: Ryan Olmstead, his wife Shanda and their daughter Abby of Atoka, OK; Christy Barnes Robinson, her husband Aaron and their two children, Mia and Alex, of Jacksonville, AR; Alesha Olmstead Presley, husband Jason and three children, Lynnlee, Emmary, and Vaden of Heber Springs; Megan Barnes Keener, husband Josh and their two sons, Parker and Wyatt of Harrison; Alexis Olmstead Cranford and her husband Preston of Heber Springs.
She is also survived by a sister Nancy Merriman Worley and her family of Germantown, TN.
Visitation will be held on Friday, July 11, 2014 at Family Funeral Service beginning at 10:00 AM and funeral services will be in the Family funeral Service Chapel at 11:00 AM by Rev. Tommy Toombs of the First United Methodist Church of Heber Springs. Interment will be held in Corning, Arkansas at the Corning Cemetery at 4:00 PM.