If life is a song worth singing, then every breath taken should exude the melody, the harmony, and the rhapsody of Evelyn Newburn Harrison. Evelyn transitioned peacefully on Monday, October 19, 2020. She was 81. Within eight amazing decades, this incredible woman found a way to leave an indelible mark on the life of every person she touched.
The unforgettable moment in time was April 24, 1939; it was then that Evelyn made her grand entrance into the world. Delivered by a midwife in the Mt. Morriah Community of Arkadelphia, Arkansas she was the beloved daughter and 10th child of 13 children of Rev. Joseph Samuel Newburn and Josie Ella Knox Newburn. Family played a key role in the development and shaping of her life. Her father Rev. J. S. Newburn pastored Mt. Morriah Missionary Baptist Church (1928-1961) for over 30 years and her parents taught the Newburn children to adhere to high morals, spiritual and educational values.
Evelyn accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior as a little girl. In 1978, she and her siblings formed the J. S. Newburn Gospel Singers often referred to as the “Song Birds of Mt. Morriah.” She was a life-long member of Mt. Morriah Baptist Church where she served as the church musician, with the WMU, assistant Sunday School Secretary, board member of the Henry C. McCauley Scholarship Fund, food service staff, the president of the senior choir, and a lead soloist with Greater Bradley District Choir where she led the songs “Change” and “I’m Alright Now.” She was a 1958 graduate of the now historic Peake High School. She was a risk-taker, a go-getter. She lived life to the fullest and always encouraged others to do the same. She inspired many. Evelyn was always the life of the party. She made life-long friends wherever she went.
She enjoyed canning, planting flowers, and growing ferns. Always impeccably dressed she matched her outfit, shoes, purse, and jewelry; even down to the perfect wig. She was a fashionista in her rights and did things “Evelyn’s way.” She loved family reunions where she dominated the domino table and particularly loved the hilarious bragging rights stemming from her frequent wins.
She was a former employee of the Hollywood Vassarette, Alfas Garment Factory, Brookshires, and worked as a greeter at Wal-Mart. As an entrepreneur, she owned the former Evelyn’s Cafe next to St. Paul AME Church where she specialized in freshly baked pies.
A true servant in every aspect of the word Evelyn did not mind lending her time, talent, and treasures to many people, causes, and church events. Of all the notable titles and respected positions, she was a super mother, sweet grandmother, proud aunt, and a true friend.
Evelyn was a true jewel and will be missed by many. She was preceded in passing by her parents; seven brothers, Henry L. Newburn, Albert Newburn, Cleveland Maurice Newburn (2005), Rev. Franklin Newburn (2006), Willie A. Newburn (2007), Carl E. Newburn (2011), J. V. Newburn (2016) and Rev. James Sylvester Newburn (2017); and two sisters, Carola Wilson (2005), and Flossie Morgan (2010).
Evelyn leaves an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of many people who learned from her, aspired to greater positions because of her, and those who were encouraged by her. A lifetime of love and memories will be felt by her children: Haja (Jacqueline) Newburn, Felix (Phyllis) Newburn, and Shunn Harrison all Arkadelphia; her grandchildren, Tecoy Jones, Fallon Newburn, Ashley Newburn, Shundra Harrison, and Shunn Harrison; and her great-grandchildren, Lauren, Raylon, and Trayden. She also leaves one brother, Rev. Douglas P. Newburn (Linda) Opelousas, LA; one sister, Maureen Owens of Arkadelphia; a sister-in-law, Brenda Newburn of Malvern; a bonus sister, Dorothy Smith Luster, who was raised in the home, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives, and the Mt. Morriah Baptist Church Family.
Public visitation will be Friday, October 23, 2020 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p., at Mt. Morriah Baptist Church. Graveside services will be at Newburn Cemetery at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 24, 2020 with Dr. Kerry Newburn, eulogist and Rev. J. L. Newborn, officiating. Pallbearers will be Keith Luster, Martin Newburn, Kirk Owens, Russell Smith, Levi Garland and Blake Wilson. Honorary pallbearers will be Thomas Newburn, William “Putt” Newborn, Josh Newburn, Terry Nelson, Sr., and Charles “Peter” Blacknall.