Leona Radcliff took her last breath as peacefully as she lived, while listening to her favorite gospel music at her residence in Florence, Alabama on Wednesday, August 26.
Born in Etowah, Tn., on September 4, 1927 to Glenn Abner Parrott and Deliah Garrison Parrott, Leona was the second of five siblings. The family moved to Chattanooga, Tn., shortly after, where she enjoyed a childhood filled with stories and adventures she loved to share. At age 16, she began working at Brock Candy Company, in effort to aid her family during wartime. She looked back on her time there with fond memories, perhaps her favorite being how she and the girls on the production line would include their names and addresses in the boxes of chocolate destined for the boys overseas.
On April 23, 1955, she married L.J “Johnny” Radcliff, whom she lovingly referred to as “the best husband in the world.” The couple welcomed their only daughter, and light of their lives, Vanessa Iona, on December 7, 1957.
Once Vanessa began attending school, Leona returned to work, though she never thought of it as “work.” She simply adored connecting with strangers who became customers, and customers who became friends, throughout her career. First at the hosiery counter at Loveman’s department store in downtown Chattanooga, later transferring to the Eastgate location. She took her enthusiasm for helping others, along with her warm, friendly and never-fading smile, to the children’s clothing department at Parks-Belk in Cleveland, Tn., until the store closed in 1995.
Meanwhile, she and Johnny built their dream home in the countryside of Decatur, Tn., where she tended to the vast vegetable garden. In her spare time, she spent some of the most humid Tennessee days in the kitchen, happily humming or singing as she canned her garden’s harvest of okra, squash, beans and peas, which she was so pleased to share with friends and family. Perhaps she was best known for her cakes, which she graciously baked for anyone and everyone celebrating a birthday. Her caramel cake was one of the enduring favorites and was served at her great-granddaughter’s first birthday.
Leona and Johnny were thrilled to welcome two granddaughters into their lives, and happily entertained them with summer evenings of badminton or horseshoes and days of making homemade ice cream, blackberry pies and biscuits. Her energy seemingly never waning and her joy for making others smile contagious.
Upon retirement, the pair moved to Crossville, Tn., a community filled with family and soon-to-be friends. She began her second act as a grocery demonstrator and hostess at Kroger in Crossville, where she especially enjoyed Wednesdays, or Seniors Day. As a hostess, she helped “elderly customers” (her words) find products they needed, served coffee and snacks, shared some of her favorite personal recipes along the way, and generally brightened the days of those around her. She was awarded numerous Silver, Golden and Platinum Key awards at Kroger for her years of exemplary customer service, as a result of customer nominations and heartfelt recommendations. When she finally retired at the age of 87, she enjoyed a large celebration alongside customers, management, coworkers, friends and family.
Leona soon relocated to Waco, Tex., to be near her daughter and son-in-law, who she considered the son she never had, and later to Florence, Ala., when the family moved in 2018. She never met a stranger along the way, as anyone around her quickly became friends, relishing her infectious smile, quick wit and joyful laugh. She lived her life with an unwavering strength of faith, with the most gratitude for every day the sun was shining, and surrounded herself with good people who were both generous in their time and friendship.
She was predeceased by her husband Johnny, brothers James Henry Parrott and Charles Marshall Parrott; and her parents. She is survived by brother Kenneth Parrott (Sue), of Crossville, Tn., and sister Glenda Topping (Bob) of Murfreesboro; daughter Vanessa and son-in-law, Greg Bozonelos, of Sheffield, Ala.; granddaughters Courtney Cofield (Chet) of Marietta, GA and Morgan Bozonelos of Sheffield, Ala.; two great-granddaughters, Abby and Ella Kate Cofield; numerous nieces and nephews. Special thanks to all of her friends who have been so kind to her, especially Pat Fields, Carolyn Oshry and Bill Fleetwood, and so many others that have so diligently called and written over the years. Your friendships meant the world to her and she loved you dearly. Heartfelt thanks to the staff at The Renaissance in Florence, Ala., for your devotion and care.
We will celebrate her life at Heritage Funeral East Brainerd Chapel on Monday, August 31 at 1 p.m.
Visit www.heritagechattanooga.com to share condolences and view livestream services.
Appropriate face coverings and social distancing measures in accordance with local Covid-19 guidelines will be observed. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you honor Leona’s memory by visiting with, calling or writing a senior who would love to hear from or spend time with you.
The family will receive friends Monday, August 31, from 12 noon until 1 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 E. Brainerd Road.