Fern Norwood Raley

Fern Norwood Raley

Shawnee - Mrs. Fern Norwood Raley, 100, a long-time resident of Shawnee, died Wednesday, March 17, at her daughter's home in Columbia, Tenn.

Mrs. Raley lived in Shawnee from 1955 until 2014, when she moved to Columbia to live in the household of her daughter, Cheryl Raley Wood. Mrs. Raley celebrated her 100th birthday on July 29, 2020.

Mrs. Raley is survived by her daughter, Cheryl Raley Wood; son-in-law Tim Wood; and grandsons Daniel Raley Wood and Michael James Wood, all of Columbia, Tenn.

Born in Salado, Texas to Pearl (Cosper) and J.H. Norwood, she graduated from Salado High School in 1937 at the age of 16. After attending business college, she worked in banks in Belton, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; and Chicago, Ill.

She met her future husband, Coleman Raley, when he was a teacher at Salado High School and rented a room in her parents' house. They were married on March 24, 1945, at Salado Methodist Church. They had been married for 62 years when Coleman died on June 17, 2007.

Dr. and Mrs. Raley enjoyed traveling. Their travel destinations included Europe, the Holy Land, the Orient, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, and destinations from the east coast to the west coast of the United States.

Hers was a life well lived. Fern was well respected for her faith, honesty and integrity. She supported her husband, Coleman, in his career, which included service as a Navy Chaplain, a Baptist pastor, and Psychology professor at Oklahoma Baptist University.

When Coleman was a Navy chaplain. Fern would play piano for the worship services he led on Navy ships. Fern also was an excellent typist. She typed Coleman's master's degree thesis on a portable typewriter. She was supportive of Coleman as he earned several degrees, culminating in a Doctor of Education degree.

Fern went from chaplain's wife to pastor's wife when, in 1952, Coleman became the founding pastor of Country Estates Baptist Church in Midwest City, Okla., The Raleys moved to Shawnee in 1955, when he became a full-time faculty member of OBU. She worked for eight years in the office of the College of Fine Arts at OBU. Coleman and Fern bought a house near OBU in 1955. After his death in 2007, she continued to live in that house until moving away in 2014.

Fern was a person of great faith. She grew up attending Salado Methodist Church. She later became a Baptist and was baptized by Coleman.

In 2009, Fern agreed to do a video interview for First Baptist Church of Shawnee, which she and Coleman joined in 1955. In the interview, she said, "I can't remember ever not knowing Jesus." She also made a simple, but powerful statement of her faith. She said her favorite Bible verse was Isaiah 40:31: "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." After saying the verse, she added, "Without the Lord - I wonder what people do?"

Posted online on March 23, 2021