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Weekly 150: Tibby Edwards Liles

Community Activist and Radio Host

Posted 7/8/20

Tibby was born Liberty Aloyce Walton on August 12, 1918, in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Robert and Mary Aletha McWhirter Walton. Her father wanted to name her Liberty Bell but her mother intervened.

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Weekly 150: Tibby Edwards Liles

Community Activist and Radio Host

Posted

Tibby was born Liberty Aloyce Walton on August 12, 1918, in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Robert and Mary Aletha McWhirter Walton. Her father wanted to name her Liberty Bell but her mother intervened.

Robert worked as a locomotive engineer for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. His shift started late at night and members of the family fought to stay awake to see him off to work. Tibby developed the habit of staying up late into the night, something she did for the remainder of her life.

She attended business college in Little Rock and took a job at the Arkansas Highway Department. During this time, a young doctor, Ebb “E.E.” Edwards, was interning at the Little Rock University Hospital. Paired from their best friends dating one another, the two met and began dating.

His mother and father came for a visit and returned home to tell relatives, “Ebb is going with a lady as tall as he is!” Dr. Edwards was 6’2’’ and Tibby was 5’7”. On December 11, 1940, the couple married at Winfield Methodist Church.

Dr. Edwards was a reserve officer in the U.S. Army. At the completion of his internship, he was required to serve a year of active duty. Before his year was up, the United States entered into World War II. He served part of his tour in Peace River, Alberta, Canada, and was assigned to the 20th Armored Division in Europe.

On September 28, 1943, Tibby gave birth to their first child, Elbert Edwin “Bo” Edwards, III, in Little Rock. Six weeks later, mother and son joined Dr. Edwards in Olympia, Washington. The family would later relocate to Tennessee.

In November 1945, the family settled in McKenzie as Dr. Edwards began his practice. Two additional children would come before 1950, Robert Thomas “Bob” in 1947 and Meredith in 1949.

Tibby’s marriage to Dr. Edwards was cut short with his death in December 1963. Since 1952, he had been diagnosed with Congenital Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) in 1952; an inherited disorder. Ever the dedicated physician, he continued to practice medicine a week before his death.

Prior to her husband’s death, Tibby was co-hosting the Women’s Club on WHDM with Gladys Notling. The program consisted of the ladies talking, playing music, telling jokes and sharing recipes they had tested in their home. She continued working for the station for over 25 years.

Like her husband, she stressed devotion and dedication to humanity. She taught her children to make a conscious effort to do good and be helpful to others. Something she learned long ago in church.

Brothers Bo and Bob attended McCallie School in Chattanooga. They went on to attend law school at Vanderbilt University. According to Tibby, the boys had desires to work in the medical field, but the loss of their father helped in their decision to study law. She said they were hurt by the death of their father.

“His benevolence to others took away from his family,” she added. She was the “chief conductor” of the children and that her husband didn’t realize the children missed and needed him.

Tibby later went to Bethel College for two years and studied speech and drama. She and her daughter, Meredith, were on campus at the same time.

In 1983, Bo was diagnosed with the same disease, PKD, that claimed his father’s life. Meredith stepped up to the call and donated a kidney to her older brother.

For 26 years, Tibby lived life as a widow. The role came to an end when she met Henry Liles. They were married and traveled from coast to coast. They spent five years together before heart disease led to Henry’s death in 1995.

Tibby was active in numerous civic activities, participating in the American Cancer Society, a charter member of the Inglenook Book Club, Garden Club, President of the Tennessee Medical Auxiliary, Carroll County Democratic Women, R.S.V.P., and the McKenzie Senior Citizen Center.

The Methodist Church was an important part of her life as well. Locally, she was a Sunday School teacher, choir member, member of the administrative board and teacher for the Methodist Youth Fellowship, and president of the Women’s Society of Christian Service. Tibby was an honorary member of the Lydia Subgroup at the First United Methodist Church and was responsible for naming the church’s newsletter, “Sights and Sounds from the Steeple.”

On May 1, 2009, Tibby died. She was laid to rest next to Dr. Edwards in Mount Olivet Cemetery.

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