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Willa Mae Noel

August 15, 1928 — January 13, 2022

Willa Mae Noel

Willa Mae Barlow Noel was born in the Nazarene parsonage in Hominy, Oklahoma, the adored youngest child of W.H. and Lola Mae Mynatt Barlow, on August 15th, 1928.  From an early age she loved to tag along with her father and older brothers and sisters all over town, and that curiosity and love of life defined who she was.  As a young teenager she began taking piano lessons, and so began her love affair with music.  She won numerous music awards, taught piano to many children in town, and played the piano at the Nazarene Church for more than 65 years.  

When Willa Mae was in junior high school, the Noel family began attending the Nazarene church her father pastored.  She immediately caught Floyd’s eye, but he was in high school, and her parents thought he was too old for her.  When Floyd enlisted in the Navy during WWII, they began writing letters, and by the time he returned, they were in love.  They married in 1946 on a Sunday afternoon soon after Willa Mae graduated from Hominy High School and were happily married for 53 years until Floyd’s death in 2000.

As soon as they were married, they moved into the little white house on the corner of First and Pettit , and Floyd went to work at Hominy Grocery.   In March of 1949 they welcomed their only child, Michael Floyd, into the family.  And in 1953 , they moved to the house on S. She She.  Willa Mae spent many years working with the children and youth at the church.  Whether she was writing and directing programs, building elaborate haunted houses, or playing high-intensity games of Steal the Bacon, she radiated the love of Christ.  Countless adults came back through the years to tell her how much she and Floyd had sincerely influenced their lives.    

She and Floyd loved helping with anything that Mike was involved in at school or church.  They were great “band parents,” spending lots of hours in the concession stand at Hominy football games, and they sponsored every youth event at the church.  Willa Mae was a counselor at youth camp all during Mike’s teen years and beyond.  She was known to be a part (instigator?) of several pranks and slight “rule breaking” incidents at camp.  

In 1965 , Floyd and Willa Mae, along with Charlie and Clara Belle Clark, opened Thrift Mart in Hominy.  Willa Mae loved working at the store as cashier and merchandise manager.  But the grocery store was more than just a business for them; it was a calling. Many times, when Floyd and Willa Mae knew a family was in need, bags of groceries would appear on their porch.  And all of the great-nieces and nephews (and grandsons!) have fond memories of going to Thrift Mart and filling sacks with as much candy as they wanted.

In 1976, when oldest grandchild Chad was born, Willa Mae began her absolute favorite role as “Grandma.”  Chad and Kevin (born in 1978) became her and Floyd’s world.  From road trips to Branson, Eureka Springs, and Galveston to camping at Lake Keystone and skiing at Keystone Mountain, Colorado, nothing made her happier than being with her “boys.”  And Chad and Kevin still tell the stories of hilarious things that happened on those trips.  And when her first great-granddaughter Alyssa was born, she got to begin the grandma fun all over again!

Willa Mae was preceded in death by her beloved husband Floyd; her parents; brothers Aubrey, Paul, and Carl; and sisters Buena and Ruth.  She leaves behind son Michael and wife Beta; grandson Chad and wife Sydney;  grandson Kevin; and great-grandchildren Alyssa Bartlett and husband Blake, Chase Noel, Jake Noel, Everly Noel, and Kate Noel.  Also, sister-in-law Clarabelle Clark and brother-in-law Ark and his wife Lou Noel, and many beloved nieces and nephews.  In  addition former granddaughter-in-law Stephanie Noel, former daughter-in-law Patsy Webb and her daughter Chelsey Parsons, and a host of great-nieces and nephews, and friends who are “family.”    Willa Mae passed from this life on Thursday, January 13, 2022 in Oklahoma City at the age of 93.  Private family graveside services will be held in the A.J. Powell Memorial Cemetery, she is being laid to rest next to her husband Floyd.


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