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Martha Rose (Barber) Owens

June 19, 1942 ~ August 15, 2020 (age 78)

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VERONA – Martha Rosetta (Rose) Owens, a precious soul whose life was dedicated to helping others, passed from this life to the life eternal from Sanctuary Hospice House in Tupelo after multiple extended illnesses.  She was 78.  Rose was born on June 19, 1942 in Blytheville, Ark., the first born daughter of James Calvin Barber, Sr. and Bessie Taylor Barber. She grew up in Marietta, Prentiss County, MS. helping raise her siblings and working alongside her parents on an Appalachian farm. She graduated from Marietta High School where she was an outstanding basketball standout and won many local beauty pageants.  She married the dashing James Oliver Owens on April 28, 1960.  They made their home in Verona for over 50 years.  She was an active, faithful member of the First Baptist Church of Verona for over 50 years. Rose served joyfully and with passion as the Patient Representative in the Social Work Department and Emergency Room at North Miss. Medical Center for over 25 years. She was a beloved employee of NMMC receiving the Employee of the Year Award in May, 1989.  Her coworkers admired and respected her and the patient families she served thought her to be an Angel. Her compassion and love for others caused her to be nicknamed “Momma Rose” by her work family and many patient families..  Health issues forced her retirement early but she remained active volunteering at Sanctuary Hospice and at her Church.  Rose devoted her entire life selflessly to her family, others and to her God.  She will be greatly missed, never forgotten and will live on in the many lives she touched during her stellar earthly pilgrimage. Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant.

A service celebrating her life will be held at 2 PM Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at the Tupelo Chapel of Holland Funeral Directors with Rev. Dr. David Hamilton and Bro. Tony Brown officiating.  Burial will follow in Lee Memorial Park.  Visitation will from 11 AM-service time on Tuesday only at Holland Funeral Directors, Tupelo Chapel, which is honored to be serving their friends.  For those unable to attend, the service may be viewed in real time at and will be permanently archived thereafter.

Rose leaves to cherish her memory her daughters, Debbie Johnson of Shannon and Becky Owens-Senter (Terri Lynn) of Tupelo; granddaughter, Melanie Johnson of Shannon; and  great-grandson, Noah Johnson and his mother, Mandy of Brandon; her siblings, Joyce Green Barber of Booneville, Johnnie Carter (Ralph) of Woodville, MS , Hazel Harris of Booneville, and Loyce Holley (Jamie) of Booneville, Boyce Barber (Joyce) of Booneville, and Junior Barber (Patricia) of Iuka; several aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews and their families and cousins whom Rose admired and showered with her encouragement and love.  She is also survived by her lifelong friends and neighbors, Joe and JoAnn Sandoval, and special friends and caregivers, Brenda Shackelford, Tawana and Nita Westbrook.  She was preceded in death by her husband, James Owens who died Jan. 20, 2003; her parents; and brother, Marion Calvin Barber; and a grandson, James Ronald “Ronnie” Johnson.

Pallbearers will be Jim Barber, Ralph Davis Carter, Joe Carter, William Harris, Brad Holley, Michael Barber and Derek Barber.  Honorary pallbearers will be employees and retirees of NMMC.

Memorials may be made to Sanctuary Hospice, P. O. Box 2177, Tupelo, MS 38803.

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