Lola Mae (nee Cummings) Garrison was born December 20, 1937 in Walnut Shade, Missouri to Walter Elra and Clella Jane (nee Blansit) Cummings. Lola Mae attended Spokane Elementary and High School. In high school, she was a cheerleader, played volleyball, and played the trombone in the band. Lola Mae was the Valedictorian of the Spokane High School Class of 1955. She was offered a scholarship to attend Southwest Missouri State College.
Lola Mae attended – what is now – Missouri State University from 1955 to 1959. Lola Mae began teaching second grade at Sparta Schools during the 1958-59 school year. In the Spring of 1960, she received a B. S. in Education and was given a lifetime certification K-8 in Missouri.
While teaching at Sparta, Lola Mae, was introduced to Gerald Dean Garrison. The introduction created a whirlwind romance that culminated in marriage the following summer. On August 25, 1959, Lola Mae Cummings married Gerald Dean Garrison at the home of Lola Mae’s parents in Walnut Shade, Missouri.
The couple lived in Wichita, Kansas, because Gerald was employed by the Boeing Airplane Company. Between 1961 and 1963, Lola Mae taught in the Wichita Public Schools.
The couple returned to Ozark, Missouri in 1963. In November of 1963, Lola Mae became a mother for the first time as her son Daniel (Danny) Dean Garrison was born. In December 1965, she gave birth to her second child Victoria (Vicky) Lynn Garrison. Lola Mae enthusiastically enjoyed the time spent as a stay-at-home mother.
In the Fall of 1972, Lola Mae began teaching fourth grade at Chadwick Schools. From 1973 to 1976, she taught second grade at Highlandville Schools.
In the early 1970s, Lola Mae decided to return to college as a graduate student. In the Summer of 1976, Lola Mae received her M. S. in Education from Missouri State University. She wrote her Master’s Thesis on the subject of “Spelling.”
In the Fall of 1976, Lola Mae was hired as a Kindergarten teacher at Ozark Schools. She taught Kindergarten for the next ten years and remembered her experiences teaching Kindergarten as her favorite time teaching. She taught third grade, a specialized reading program and fifth grade the final twelve years of her teaching career.
Lola Mae cared for her husband Gerald, as his health deteriorated, and he became dependent on her care. Lola Mae handled this circumstance with a level of caring and clear decision-making that would come to define her. She was always caring, definitive and possessed grace (under pressure.) Following a series of health crisis, Gerald passed away with Lola Mae holding his hand in December of 1996.
In the Spring of 1998, Lola Mae decided to retire from teaching. Her main interest in retiring was to spend time with her grandson Jackson Garrison Jones, who was born in September of 1996. Two years after her retirement, she had another reason to continue her retirement as Lincoln Christian Jones was born in 2000. She was reborn as a stay-at-home grandmother.
As Lola Mae’s mother Clella entered her early nineties she began to need help. Lola Mae recognized that she was no longer capable of living alone and enthusiastically became a caretaker for her mother. Lola Mae embraced the care taking responsibilities and referred to caring for her mother as a “labor of love.” Following Clella’s death in 2012, Lola Mae, also, spent her time attending ball games and the activities of her grandsons Jack and Lincoln Jones. Parents of other participants were always excited to see “Grandma” in the stand cheering, because of the positive nature of her cheering.
Lola Mae passed away October 21, 2021 at the home of her daughter Vicky Jones surrounded by her family.
Lola Mae is survived by a son, Danny Garrison of Ozark; a daughter Vicky Jones and her son-in-law Jeff Jones of Springfield; two grandsons, Jack Jones and Lincoln Jones of Springfield; a brother-in-law Ron Garrison and wife Judy of Ozark; nephew Jeff Garrison and wife Nikki and family of Ozark; niece Cheryl Stewart and husband Billy and family of Pleasant Hope; a niece Sheryl Smillie of Caspar, Wyoming, her cousins Barbara Hendrex-Hogan of Ozark, Janice Blansit-Kolich and Jeff Blansit both of Kansas City.
Lola Mae was preceded in death by her husband Gerald Garrison, her parents Walter and Clella Cummings, a sister Martha Lou Mitchell, a nephew Mike Mitchell, and a niece Sheree Mitchell.
Burial will be in Linden Cemetery. A Memorial Service will be announced at a later date. Arrangements are under the direction of Adams Funeral Home Ozark.