LuVerne Isbell, 89, of Humnoke, Arkansas completed her life on earth on Monday, September 23, 2019—just before sunrise. She was surrounded by family. She was a devoted wife and a loving mother and grandmother. She will be remembered for her sense of wonder, her charming kindness, her devoted faith in Jesus, and her boundless love for family, friends, and music.
Always bubbling over with music, from her heart came tunes that colored her world with vivid shades of wonder. She shaped those tunes into melodies, and with these melodies she painted pictures in songs that she shared with others, filling them with joy and hope and pointing them toward her confident faith in Jesus and a better life ahead. She leaves these songs, this joy, wonder, and enduring hope in the hearts of her family, friends, and many others.
LuVerne Isbell was born Iva LuVerne Brown on August 26, 1930 near Humnoke, Arkansas. The thirteenth of fourteen children, life was not always easy, but she spoke with affection of her great big family, the days of her youth, and her time with her parents and siblings as they struggled to make a living in rural Arkansas. She often told of one lean year, when money was scarce, and how her dad and brothers trapped for furs during a winter freeze and managed to earn enough to give the family a Christmas. She loved Christmas, maybe because of those winter memories, or maybe because it was the one time of year others approached the world with a little of the same wonderment she carried with her daily.
LuVerne graduated Humnoke High School and married Leroy Isbell in 1949. She had three children, Benny, Vickie, and Chris, and made a home and a life for her family on a buckshot rice farm north of Humnoke. She surrounded her home with plants and flowers, which she nurtured, bordered it with tomato plants and watermelon vines, and filled it with love and the smell of biscuits and strawberry jam. The door was always open for her family and friends, and there was always an open seat at her table for all who came calling.
In her younger days, LuVerne drove the auger trucks between the fields and grain bins to unload the harvest. She named these grain trucks Charlie Red, Charlie Blue, Charlie Green, and Charlie Two, and sang a song about them as she drove them up and down the dirt roads of the farm, one or two grandchildren riding in the seat next to her while she worked the clutch and accelerator and taught them to shift the gears. She could add a touch of whimsy to almost anything.
In the late 70’s, LuVerne won a national song writing contest for her song “Gentle Thoughts of Jesus.” She wrote over 100 songs, some of which were published and performed by national artists. Her melodies were buoyant and hopeful; her lyrics were vivid and inspiring. The Cathedrals recorded her songs “Mexico” and “Inward Man,” with “Mexico” being a featured song on a Gaither Homecoming Video. The Florida Boys recorded her song, “Any Day Will be a Good Day.” She loved singing with her daughter Vickie, and son Chris, and together they were known as “The Singing Isbells.” They sang together for 50 years, and many of her songs have been learned by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and through her songs she continues to share with them her faith in Jesus and love of life.
In her season here on earth, LuVerne lived for Jesus, sharing his love in word, song, and actions. She was a member of Stuttgart Harvest Church, where she was a cherished member of the music team and played the bass guitar until this year.
She was preceded in death by her parents Luny Lee and Clifford Adelia Brown; 12 Siblings: Earl, Lee, Arlon, Irene, Ulys, Henry, Marie, Thelma, Elsie, Clifford, and Harold; her husband, Leroy Isbell; and her son, Benny Isbell.
She is survived by one brother, Delbert (Noma) Brown 92, of Humnoke; 2 Children: Vickie (Rodnay) Castleberry of White Hall and Chris (Judy) Isbell of Humnoke; 9 Grandchildren: Shane (Lisa) Isbell, Wade Isbell, Ashley Isbell; Amber (Rob) Colvin, Hailey (Jake) Norman, Julie (Derrik) Watts, and Jill Shepherd; Whitney (Jeremy) Jones, and Mark (Marda) Isbell; 19 Great Grandchildren: Colton, Nathan, Sarah, Benjamin, David, Xander, Hannah, Katelynn, Jaxon, Moriah, Breanna, Josiah, Micah, Emma, Isaak, Harrison, Alayna, Sam, and Nora; 3 Great-Great Grandchildren; a loving church family, and many friends. Her faithful dog, Jake, stood by her to the end. Special thanks to caregivers Anita Bowlan, Sam, Pam, Christie, Amy, Lauren, Tamika, Denise, Carol, Pam, and Baptist Hospice.
In one of her songs, written many years ago, she sings “I will sing unto the Lord, as long as I shall live.” In her final days of life, though breath did not come easy, she used it to sing praises.
In her final months, she would ask her family to gather around her for what she called “celebrations.” During these celebrations, four generations of family would assemble in her home to play instruments and sing and fill the space around her with music as she sang from the depths of her heart of hope, love, and the good times just around the corner.
And we know she is still singing.
Visitation will be held at Wilson-Robison Funeral Home in England, AR on Friday, September 27, beginning at 6 P.M. Funeral will be held on September 28, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. at Stuttgart Harvest Church, 607 South Park Ave, Stuttgart, AR. Burial will immediately follow at Hamilton Cemetery in the Hamilton Community.