Reba Lillian Laney was born October 24, 1917 to John and Francis Ritchey in their home at Madisonville, Tennessee. Her parents are from Monroe County and Reba grew up in the Bethlehem community where she attended church since she was a little girl. She was raised in a huge family with ten younger siblings-six brothers and four sisters and recalls that her best memory of childhood was taking care of her siblings, always being happy, and loving her parents which were always caring and good to each other. During her school age years, she recollects being a good student, enjoying school, and even her favorite teacher, Fannie Duggan whom she attended church with.
In 1937 When Reba was twenty she married Willard Woodrow Laney (born 1916) and they had three children oldest to youngest: Verlin, Michael, and Sharon. They shared a home in Madisonville where Willard worked as a sawmill hand and Reba stayed home and took care of jobs around the house such as cooking and sewing quilts and taking the kids to school. She tells that her family is what she is most proud of in life and Rebas daughter remembers her mother and father having a very loving and tender relationship and working hard together to keep the family strong. They all attended Bethlehem Baptist Church where Reba remembers the happiest moments of her life being when they were all together.
Reba says that the most important lesson in life is being ready to meet God. In 1979 at age 27, her son Michael drowned and her dear husband of 55 years passed from a stomach aneurism in 1992. She exclaims were the darkest years of her life and that her son Mikie was a good boy and was good and kind to her. She goes on to say that her life has been different than she imagines because she has lived longer than she thought she would. Her son Verlin died in 2000 of emphysema and not long after that Reba herself broke her hip and later her leg where she was admitted to East Tennessee Health Care Center.
Reba still has seven siblings that are still alive and is able to visit them with the help of her brother, James. She has five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren! When asked if she could hold on to just one memory from her life forever she replies when all of her family was together and all well. She says that her advice for everyone is to live for the Lord, stay in church, and be ready to go.
Through all those dark days, Reba is never short of a smile or kind word to anyone. She stands on certainty and the blessed assurance that one day she will see her family again, but until then continues to share the gospel to her visitors and hold dear to her heart her family and God that has always made the biggest impact on her life. She says, I would like to be remembered as a good person and living a good Christian life!