Cover photo for Wilma "Tess" Foster Breeden's Obituary
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Wilma "Tess" Foster Breeden

April 4, 1929 — July 3, 2024

Charlotte, TN

Wilma "Tess" Foster Breeden

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Wilma “Tess” Foster Breeden was born on April 4, 1929, in Charlotte, Tennessee. Few people would have known her by “Wilma”—the name her parents gave her—and even fewer people would have called her by it. Most everyone knew her as “Tess,” “Aunt Tess,” or “Mama Tess.” The origin of this nickname is the stuff of legend and myth, but everyone agrees that it had something to do with a circus sideshow and the song “Two-Ton Tessie” by singer Tessie O’Shea. Use your imagination to fill in the blanks. 

To say something in a few paragraphs that does justice to a life that spanned almost a century is a task doomed from the start. Anyone who knew her knew that she was an outstanding cook. Food was her ministry. She was the school lunch lady, and her cooking was good for the soul. For ninety-five years she fed her community. Her hot-water cornbread and homemade peppermint ice cream proved that there is still good in the world, and her jam cake and Christmas candy restored our faith in miracles. She was generous to a fault—much of what she cooked she gave away. And not just food. She would give anything away. 

She was a stout woman made of fire and grit, and she wasn’t above hollering. Her words could pack a wallop, and her wit was quick. Woe unto the person on the sharp end of it. She took no prisoners and held nothing back. She was a fierce card player. She worked hard and expected the same of others. She never gave up. She loved everyone. She loved to knit. She loved word searches. She loved television. And she loved staying informed—she knew everything that went on in her town. Though her life was not without challenges and loss, it was a happy life because her years were full and rich and filled with people. 

She loved her family, and she loved God. She lived her life in a way that calls us to take account of our own—to consider the example that we are setting and the legacy we want to leave behind. In the words of the writer of Hebrews, she is among our “great cloud of witnesses”—the men and women who through lives of extraordinary faith and perseverance serve as our guides on the journey. She is one of the saints in our own backyard who has lived and walked among us. And her gift to us is her example of faith and persistence along an often-difficult road and the lesson that what counts in the end is staying the course and finishing the race. 

Her death is an occasion of deep sadness for us who remain behind. If there’s any consolation in our sorrow, it’s that her death can make room for her spirit to grow as we embody all that she taught us and everything that was good, decent, and lovely about her. And if there’s any joy, it’s the joy that comes from the wonder and grace of our lives having been joined to hers. 

Hard days are ahead. But one of the truths that a life well-lived testifies to is that we are more resilient than we think, and we can get through almost anything when we try. Mama Tess would expect us to press forward. And she showed us that the best way to do it is to speak our minds, surround ourselves with people we love, eat good food, and share some of it with others.

Visitation: will be 4-8 Friday and 12 – 4 Saturday from the chapel of Spann Funeral Home.

Funeral Service: for Mrs. Tess Breeden will be conducted at 4 pm Saturday July 6, 2024, from the chapel of Spann Funeral Home with Bro. Mike Richardson and Bro. Zack Howard officiating

 Interment: Big Springs Cemetery

 Survived by: 

 Daughter: 

 Donna Breeden Allen (Donnie) of Charlotte, TN

 2 Sons:

 Jimmy Breeden (Rachel) of Charlotte, TN

 Garland Breeden (Connie) of Charlotte, TN

 Brother:

 Billy Foster (Wilma) of Smithville, TN

 Don Foster (Verna) of Dickson, TN

 Sister:

 Patsy Caldwell of Charlotte, TN

 6 Grandchildren: David, Michael, Deana, Rebekah, Andrew, Olivia

 11 Great Grandchildren: Taylor, Mackenzie, David Jr., Izabella, Kinzlee, Hazel, Sadie, Braden, Morgan, Rain, and Ren

 Preceded in death by: 

 Husband: James Lester Breeden Sr.

 Grandson: Randall Allen

 Brothers: Edward & George Foster

 Sisters: Elizabeth Williams, Louise Green, Juanita Jackson

Memorial donations to Big Springs Cemetery Fund and Randall's Rebellion

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Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, July 6, 2024

4:00 - 5:00 pm (Central time)

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