Opal Moore Tuten’s earthly life came to a close Wednesday night, but her presence will continue to be felt in all the “good works’’ she did for her God, her church, her family and her Hacklebarney Community.
Her good deeds come to light with her passing. She was a staunch Christian soldier for her Ben James Primitive Baptist Church located at the end of Hacklebarney Road, Pierce County. A member there since 1954, she always had a supportive tone for the historic church built in 1884, but she kept the present as number one too, as she organized a fish fry to be held there annually to help keep the historic cemetery looking neat and lovely. The church building is a shining white light dedicated to worship and fellowship.
Those driving to Ben James Church today, see well-kept grounds, beautiful flowers tilting in the breezes and a fellowship hall just ready for more church dinners, fish fries and fellowship. Her stature was strong and her character reflected a “woman of God,’’ as He directed her and gave her blessings of His earth.
In an article which will appear in this writer’s “Hacklebarney Memories’’ coming out in August, Opal said, “Ben James Church has been my refuge, my life. I’ve never had any desire to be anywhere else. I have seen a lot of history at the church. I’ve lived it. I remember here being nothing out here but sand and ants. We now have grass and landscaping.’’
She could recall going to Ben James Church in a mule drawn wagon when she was a young child. She said her father always hitched the mules to the same oak out in front of the church. A small stand of oaks still grows in front of the meeting house, she recalled. Her love for this church grew in the years of her life — almost 97 — like the beautiful oaks, shiny sandy grounds and grassed fields which surround the church.
Opal had deep roots in her beloved Hacklebarney Community. She lived strongly in God’s love and in the love of her children and family — flourishing in life’s joys and sorrows like the strong oaks which grace her home on Ware Street in Hacklebarney. When not planning church fellowship, she relished in the joy of her precious children, her grandchildren, her greats! They called her “Great!’’
She said her parents moved to Hacklebarney when she was only 3 1/2 years old. Her father farmed the land and her mother cooked the best meals. She followed in their working steps and walked on into the loving arms and lives of so many people. She milked cows and gathered eggs and became well known in the school circles for her dedication to her work there. She will be so missed by all those who love her.
So many changes were seen by Opal — she walked on dirt roads to Hacklebarney School, there were no school buses, no electricity, no television and she recalled, “just farms which are being cut up into residential areas. I guess one calls this ‘progress.’‘’ Devotion to family, church and work were noticed. She and her late husband LeRoy Tuten were married 47 years at his death.
She liked to boast, as mothers and fathers do, “We are blessed to have two sets of five generations in our family.’’ She said this in the year 2016 in an interview for “Hacklebarney Memories’.” She was mother to five children and a devoted neighbor and relative to so very many.
“Miss Opal’’ described as “always modest,’’ said, “I don’t like all the fuss. I just want to be remembered as someone who is faithful to the Lord and to her family.’’
Noted Blackshear Times writer Elder Jason Deal said in his article of praise for her, “Opal Tuten wants to be remembered as someone who ‘is a faithful servant to the Lord’s Kingdom. She said, ‘All I’ve done or tried to do is by the Lord’s leading. He would show me what He wanted me to do and I tried to carry it out’.’’
Yes, my Opal you did what your God wanted you to do. And your good works and love for family and friends will be remembered always. Certainly, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,’’ paved her path to her Godly home.