It's been a long few days. For those of you who don't know, my dear Granddaddy, Mr. Bobby Vannatta, passed away on Thursday June 12. He struggled for a long time with his health, particularly his breathing, and he died peacefully at his home on his farm in Deason, surrounded by our family.
Since then, it's been a whirlwind of family, friends, funeral, and food. A quick glance at the visitation guest book left us with an estimation that 500 people that came by on Saturday evening, and I'd guess another 500 came through today. Over and over again, I've been told just how wonderful a man my Granddaddy was. He was steadfast and true, and always gave me real a sense of home. My family is deeply rooted to the farm here in Middle Tennessee, and I'm so proud to be a Vannatta.
A few days ago, I went through most of the images I have of Granddaddy. In so many of them, he was in his overalls, on his farm, and I think that's how I'll always remember him. My favorite picture is this one:
It's not much, but it's just a snippet of his daily like. He's just sitting at the kitchen table, having a bite of lunch, viewing his crops out the back window.
Mr. Bobby Walls Vannatta, age 75, of Bell Buckle, died peacefully at home on his farm in Deason surrounded by his family on Thursday, July 12, 2012.
He was born January 26, 1937, in Fosterville, Tennessee, to the late Marvin "Pete" and Elizabeth Walls Vannatta. He was a lifelong farmer, and carried on the farming tradition as a 5th generation Vannatta family farmer.
A 1955 graduate of Bell Buckle High School, he served four years in the United States Air Force. He was a lifelong member and former elder of Fairlane Church of Christ.
Mr. Vannatta spent his life serving others and his community by leading his peers on several committees and boards. Those positions include Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of Tennessee, Director of American Soybean Association, Director at large for the Tennessee Farmers Co-op, Chairman of the board for the Bedford County Solid Waste Authority, President of Shelbyville Jaycees, and a board member of the Duck River Electric Membership Cooperation. In 1971, he was named Tennessee Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year, and in 1995, he was given the title of Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. He also served as a Bedford County Commissioner for 19 years. A natural leader, Mr. Vannatta was always effective at making positive change through decisive actions. He was an advocate of U.S. farm products and traveled the world as a representative of modern agriculture.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Linda Joyce Vannatta, of Bell Buckle; a daughter, Sharon Edwards, and her husband Ralph, of Bell Buckle; two sons, Tracy Vannatta, and his wife Teri, of Bell Buckle, and Troy Vannatta, and his wife Elizabeth, of South Pittsburg, Tennessee; mother-in-law, Sara Joyce, of Bell Buckle; a brother, Marvin "Jack" Vannatta, and his wife Linda, of Hermitage; a sister, Elaine Vannatta Bonney, and her husband Col. Fred Bonney, of Louden, Tennessee; six grandchildren, Jenna Henderson, and her husband Josh, Sara Elizabeth Edwards, Hunter Cook, and his wife Niki, Drew Vannatta, Tyler Vannatta, and John Vannatta; two great-grandchildren, Alexander Cook and Clark Henderson.
Memorials may be made to The Next Step Home, P.O. Box 378, Shelbyville, TN 37162, or charity of choice.