Lula Elsie Wall Bartholomew, 99

Lula Elsie Wall Bartholomew, 99, passed away peacefully on March 29, 2024. She was surrounded by her children at the home of her daughter, Beth, in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

She was preceded in death by her parents Neta Ozenia Williams Wall and Wilkes Hammock Wall, Sr.; her husband of 21 years, James Earnest Bartholomew Sr.; her three brothers, Wilkes Hammock Wall, Jr.; John Douglas Wall, Sr.; Dr. James Thomas Wall [Col. (Ret.) USA], her sister Anita Wall Moore, and her nephew, James (Jim) Gibson.

She grew up in Cookeville, TN, in a loving home during the uncertainty and challenging times of the Great Depression and later World War II. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics in only three years at Tennessee Tech University. After graduating in 1946, she met her future husband, James “Boot” Bartholomew, on campus while working at the Bursar’s office, and were married in 1949. After his graduation, the couple moved to Lexington, KY for two years where “Boot” worked on his master’s degree. Lula was one of a few women of her time to work in World War II production at the “Liberty ship” factory in Brunswick, GA, and for a brief period in the chemistry lab of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge. By 1952, the couple had moved to a permanent home in Oak Ridge. Lula spent many of her early years in Oak Ridge as a stay-at-home mother. Later, when her children were older, she spent several years as a nursery schoolteacher at First United Methodist Church. She took great joy in following the lives and accomplishments of her “other children” as they grew to adulthood. She later transitioned to a career working in several different engineering design offices and in materials accountability at either Y-12 or K-25 Gaseous Diffusion facilities. 

Lula was very active in her service to her community and church. For decades she gave her time and energy as host and cashier at the United Methodist Medical Center’s gift shop, Church Circle Meetings, Oak Ridge Women’s Club, volunteered for “Meals on Wheels” serving meals to homebound clients well into her 80s, acting as a block captain for the Heart Fund and even a stint as a girl’s church league basketball coach, a sport she loved. She was an active member of First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge for nearly 72 years. She was one of the last two surviving members who attended Methodist Church in its infancy, when services were held at the Ridge Movie Theatre. Lula loved and cherished her family and friends, both old and new. She traveled hundreds of miles to and from Cookeville to maintain her valued relationships, many of whom were lifelong. When her granddaughter Shelby was young, “Grandmother” would make countless trips to Utah and later Texas. She was always willing to play Polly Pockets, Uno, and Monopoly, visit the park to swing and practice somersaults, scoop ice cream at birthday parties, help with homework, or simply read to her granddaughter for hours and hours. Lula, known as both Mother and Mom, was very energetic and adventure-seeking. 

Some of her adventures included climbing down and back up the Grand Canyon in her 60s, hiking to the summit of Mount Le Conte in her 70s, skydiving in her 70s, and zip lining in her 80s. She attended a variety of theatre and musical performances. Traveling the world and the US was a joy which included Scotland, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Hawaii. She cruised with her daughters to Alaska and a majority of the Caribbean on the way through the Panama Canal. She loved family gatherings, playing bridge, and earned her Life Masters in Duplicate Bridge.

A loving mother, she leaves her three children; Beth Bartholomew of Fort Lauderdale, FL; Anita Langley (Glen) of The Woodlands, TX; James Bartholomew of Oak Ridge, TN; granddaughter, Shelby Wadsworth of San Francisco, CA; twelve nieces and nephews, twenty-five grand nieces and nephews, and a multitude of surrogate children, of all ages who regarded Lula as their second mother.

The family will receive friends at 12:00 pm on Saturday, April 20th at Weatherford Mortuary. A memorial service will follow at 2:00 pm. Immediately following, the graveside service will be held at Oak Ridge Memorial Park in Oak Ridge.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge, or Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties (ADFAC) https://www.adfac.org/, or a charity of your choice.

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