Newton, Rena Rae Renfro

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Rena Newton
Rena Newton

Rena Rae Renfro Newton died in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on January 7, 2013 at the age of 88. 

She was born in the Texas Panhandle town of Hereford on Sept. 19, 1924, daughter of John and Esse Renfro. Rena’s husband Lester died in 1957, so she raised four children by herself. She used her sewing and business skills to run a custom drapery business, continuing in that field well into the last decade of her life.

Rena lived in Chattanooga for more than 25 years. She became known as "The Bag Lady" at her church by making thousands of tote bags and giving them away to any and all. Missionaries distributed her tote bags in many countries around the world, which she loved.

Rena leaves a large family, who all loved their Gagee very much. She is survived by her daughter, Nicky Whaley and husband, Mickey from Jasper, Ga.; son, Tom Newton and wife Kay from Hixson; and daughter, Carol Heideman and husband Mike, of Austin, Tx. Other survivors include nine grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren, as well as many other relatives and close friends who are like family.

A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 14, at Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga. Burial will also be Monday at West Park Cemetery in Hereford, Tx.

To share memories with the Newton family, friends are invited to visit

Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga.

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