Belma “Totsie” Wallace Keaton, 87, of Franklin, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died Thursday, October 12, 2023, in Franklin.
Belma Ree Wallace was born March 31, 1936, to L.A. (Buddy) and Clara Mae Johnson Wallace of Brantley, AL. She was the third of five children and grew up surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles and other extended family in her beloved hometown. She was a cheerleader at Brantley High School, graduating in 1954.
Mrs. Keaton was always adventurous (she told us to say that) and so left the small town of Brantley to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, earning her B.S. in Nursing in 1958. While a student nurse on rotation in the psychiatric ward of Vanderbilt Hospital, she met a psychology student who would become her partner in more adventures. She and William C. (Bill) Keaton Jr. were married on December 21, 1958, and celebrated 54 years of marriage before his death in January 2013.
Mrs. Keaton was a Registered Nurse and worked briefly at Vanderbilt Hospital before becoming a full-time homemaker and mother to three daughters born in less than 3 ½ years. The family lived in small towns in Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee before settling in Brentwood in 1970. They were members of Brentwood United Methodist Church, where Mrs. Keaton taught children’s Sunday School and served as children’s education coordinator. She bowled in the Lipscomb PTA League for a dozen years. She also enjoyed sewing and made many of her daughters’ clothes as well as dresses for many of the other girls in the church’s youth choir.
The Keatons moved to Maine in 1982 and the adventures continued. Mrs. Keaton took up quilting and made beautiful creations for her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and even the family dog. She was a member of the Republican Inner Circle and enjoyed frequent trips to Washington, D.C., and national conventions.
After moving to North Carolina for a few years, the Keatons returned to Brentwood in 1996. The couple enjoyed taking cruises, hosting family and friends and supporting local sports teams. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Keaton moved to Franklin, living the last two years at NHC Cool Springs, where she was well loved and cared for by the amazing team in the memory care unit, Aspen Arbor.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Keaton was preceded in death by her parents and two sisters, Margie Nell Bailey and Qunnie Bailey.
She is survived by her daughters Susan (Lance Wegner) of Naperville, Ill.; Beth (Bud) Archie of Franklin; and Kay of Brentwood; six grandchildren, Nick Garretson, of Dallas, TX, Samantha (Woody) Burgess of Columbia, Chad Trask of Charleston, ME, Lauren Wegner of Rim Rock, AZ, Brandon Wegner of Lisle, IL, and Rachel Wegner of Naperville, IL; two great-grandsons, Keaton Burgess and Bodhi Burgess of Columbia; a sister, Judy Brown of Brantley, AL; a brother, Paul (Barbara) Wallace of Destin, FL; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, and 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home in Franklin. The service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org.