Some people only walk this earth for a short time. Their departure reminds us that angels are watching over us. On Friday, July 24, 2020, Levia Leona Hartsog rejoined her heavenly family and gained her wings. She was 98 years old.
A lifelong resident of small mountain communities, Levia was well-loved by everyone. Her front door and loving arms were always open for anyone. She never met a stranger. Levia was the mother of five children. As a homemaker, she prepared meals and clothing with great pride. Simple tasks of washing dishes and sewing on buttons brought big smiles to her face. Levia provided unconditional devotion and support for her family. She and her husband, Warren, built a home of endless love for their children and grandchildren. Family was her world, and her world was her family.
A lady of the highest integrity, Levia lived the golden rule while peppering in her own spunk and sassiness. Her quick wit coupled with an uncanny ability to always see the best in others made for colorful conversations. She could easily turn difficult situations into positive ones. With a strong vocabulary from thousands of books in all genres, she drew comparisons of tough times in others’ lives to experiences in her novels. She saw fault in no one and taught her family to always steer clear of prejudice thinking. Folks took away life’s lessons when she spoke - judge never and love always. Her piercing blue eyes shared her soul. Levia lived life on her own terms. She was strong in her identity and encouraged everyone around her to be unique. Levia loved life. She was funny and child-like. She was serious when needed yet faced adversity with grace and a tiny bit of grit. She smelled of tenderness, baby powder, and a tiny hint of perfume. With her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, Levia provided the story. Everyone listened. Affectionately known as “Lee-Vee”, “Mother”, “Mom”, “Gran”, and “Grandma”, the name best suited for her was “Granny”. Family, friends, and strangers knew her as Granny Hartsog - a larger than life person with the simplest of titles. Her crown in Heaven is studded with rubies.
Granny was born Levia Leona Fizer on January 13, 1922 to Hezekiah William Fizer, Sr. and Nida Ruth Basham Fizer in the small coal mining town of Crumpler, West Virginia. As one of 11 children, she was very close to all of her siblings - Edythe, Edward, Elmer, H.W. Jr. “Buck”, George, Beulah “Boots”, James, Mack, Nida, and Charles.
Granny journaled of finding someone to love and marry. This dream came true when she married Warren Harding Hartsog on November 16, 1946. In the early years of their marriage, they lived in both West Virginia and North Carolina. Granny was a homemaker who created an inviting atmosphere of warmth and love for family and guests. She used hospitality and grace to minister to those around her. Gramps and Granny were married for 44 years. As a testament to her faith, Granny lived 62 years in her home in Lansing, NC. There was no place she loved more than home.
Left to cherish in Granny’s memories are her children - Carolyn Miller and husband, Edward, of Creston, NC; Debbie Darnell and husband, JC, of Warrensville, NC; Edie Miller and husband, Eddie, of Jefferson, NC, and Lisa Howell and husband, Mike, of Raleigh, NC. Granny is now reunited in Heaven with her son, Keith Hartsog.
As a devoted grandmother, Granny fully embraced the “to be a kid again” philosophy. She will be greatly missed by her grandchildren - Heather Hartsog Moore and husband, Wade, of Antioch, TN; Randy Darnell of Warrensville, NC; Angela Miller of Apex, NC; Candace Hartsog Stephens and husband, Matthew, of Hickory, NC, and Tonya Hartsog of Lansing, NC. Granny’s love exponentially grew for her great-grandchildren - William Stephens, Atticus Stephens, Jud Stephens, and Maris LauraLevia Stephens, Brandon Moore, and Jessica (Christian) Passwater. As a great-great-grandmother, her love bloomed again for sweet Ripley Passwater although Granny was not able to meet her in person.
As a precious aunt, Granny loved each of her nieces and nephews with the same genuine love as her children - Susan, Pam, Kim, Linda, Sheila, Deanna, Donna, Sharon, Billy, Charlene, Christine, and the late Margie. Granny embraced friends and strangers as her family. She had a special love for Meghan Garner and the late Linda Johnson Hartsog.
Someone who always preferred her home over anyplace else, Granny’s house was thoughtfully crafted. She proudly displayed photos of all her loved ones. An eclectic decorator, she loved birdhouses, Americana, bakeware, and colorful matching towels. Never one to shy away from afghans and throw pillows, her home was a pop of color from the front door. She opened the door for guests with the brightest of smiles often with a kitty cat or cup of coffee in hand. Her hugs enveloped people with magic. Wisdom and grace flowed from her hands.. Granny loved all colors but especially blue. She was not afraid to share her love of color in her clothing, her bright lipstick, her rouge, and her perfectly painted fingernails. Granny accessorized with beads and scarves of all types. Two very special rings were near and dear to her heart - her Mother’s ring and a silver crafted band given to her by her sister. When working in her home, she wore floral and patterned housecoats and smocks. She loved bedroom shoes and funky tie-dyed t-shirts. Granny did not leave her home very often. She loved her life as a homemaker and wrote in her journal of how thankful she was to have a home to tend. When Granny chose to travel or visit others, she meant the visits whole heartedly. These were special occasions for her to wear clothes and shoes received as gifts. She relished her time away and the many memories made.
A minimalist for sleep, Granny was both a night owl and an early bird. She loved coffee with a tad of cream. A meticulous notetaker, Granny documented all of life’s events from times to take medication to her daily prayers and devotions - all in her timeless, impeccable penmanship. Granny loved nothing more than to write letters and cards. During World War II, she mailed letters all around the world. Granny also loved to receive them and anxiously awaited mail. She collected cards and loved to share them - birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations of all kinds. Heartfelt messages flowed from her pen. Granny wrote masterful poetry. Pages and pages of prayers fill her journals. She wrote of tender blessings and prayerful ways to face difficult days - a valiant prayer warrior for all. Granny’s bookcases were filled with catalogs of all kinds. She ordered many of her cards and notepads from Current. She loved to read Our State magazine, Guideposts, and The Upper Room, a publication of the Methodist church.
Granny loved a celebration. She planned them beautifully with no missed detail - baby showers, birthdays, and all holidays. With a masterfully decorated holiday home, Easter brought bunnies, egg trees, and purple for her risen Savior. Summers brought red, white, and blue cookouts with American buntings and sparklers. With Halloween, Granny hung ghosts in her trees, placed witches on her porch, and waited patiently for trick-or-treaters with her Halloween-y shirts and a giant bucket of full-size Hershey bars, Little Debbie cakes, and homemade treats. A hand-crafted fabric pilgrim set was the sign of Thanksgiving in the Hartsog home. Granny celebrated Christmas most of all. She painted Santas and Christmas tree ornaments. She collected Christmas is Coming books and planned each year’s newest handmade ornaments and wrappings. Her tree was adorned with sentimental ornaments created by all her children and grandchildren. She relished in sharing the birth of Jesus with her friends and family. Her journals document Christmas prayers for peace, love, and kindness. Granny was never shy to ring in each new year with the ball drop and sparkling cider. Highlights of her year also included visits from Bethany United Methodist Church's divinity students and Christmas carols from the community and the Fleetwood Folk Band. Never one to put herself ahead of others, she secretly loved her birthday - anxiously awaiting to open gifts and cards from family and friends. She cherished each and every gift. A grandchild's drawing held more meaning than gold. A gracious receiver, countless gratitude sprang from her heart.
Famous for her cornbread dressing - not to be stuffed in the bird but enjoyed with gravy and mashed potatoes, Granny’s kitchen was her homebase. Always adorned with an apron, she found joy in cooking and baking. She sprinkled in love with each ingredient - cherry Coke salad, applesauce cake, simple strawberries in sugar. All were special due to her precious touch. Granny loved nothing more than to cook for others. She ate holiday meals last to ensure her guests were happy and full. No one left Granny’s home hungry. She loved to share coffee, cool mountain water, and Dr. Pepper with her guests. Granny loved collections. She collected birdhouses, recipe books, Grandma and Grandpa figurines, and coffee mugs. Her recipe books include perfectly penned cards of fixins’ and desserts. She was sure to document the recipe’s author and location on each card. With her family extending across the United States, her recipes highlight dishes of all cuisines. As a wonderful cook, Granny’s meals were further delicious with her extra sprinkles of love. There was one dessert special to everyone - cake, a special Granny cake.
In addition to caring for the home, Granny loved reading. She loved poems by Ruth Bell Graham and Helen Steiner Rice. As a graduate of North Fork High School in 1940, Granny valued books and the opportunities they provide. The world fell into Granny’s lap with each open book. She supported higher education and believed everyone could and should learn. Granny celebrated accomplishments of everyone and took time to learn of everyone’s interests and hobbies. Proud of her children’s accomplishments, she revered each one’s unique talents and interests - Carolyn’s cooking abilities; Debbie’s gardening skills; Edie’s musical and theatre endeavors; Keith’s ability to fix anything for anyone; Lisa’s love of running. A mother of the finest caliber, Granny ordered special clothes for the children from Spiegel and Sears and Roebuck. It was very important they look their best to represent the Hartsog home. Granny loved kyle Busch. She could sport a different t-shirt for him each day. She found solace in getting her hands in the dirt. Her favorite flower was the impatien, and she also loved roses and the rose-of-sharon tree. Granny also loved to hang clothes on a clothesline with a warm breeze blowing. There is no surprise Spring and Summer were here favorite seasons.
As a young child, Granny memorized Methodist hymns. She shared stories of the musical notes drifting through her windows. A Christian of simple faith, she read her Bible each and every day - spending time with Jesus in her chair each morning while she drank coffee and wrote in her prayer journals. She praised our Lord through His many offerings in her life - a new day, a beautiful sunrise, the healing of a loved one. Granny cried out to Him when sorrowful especially when caring for her precious husband in the home prior to his death. She gave of herself completely while ensuring each of his needs was met. She slept in hospital rooms and rolled a cot into their bedroom to ensure he never felt alone. Granny deserves the most praise in Heaven for her humility and genuine loving kindness. In recent years, Granny loved teaching Bible stories and singing simple Bible songs with her great-grandchildren. A bold and strong believer, she encouraged them not to waiver in their love for Jesus because “Noah knew in his heart, and you should, too”. Granny loved gospel music with George Beverly Shea and Bill and Gloria Gaither as her highest favorites. She enjoyed old-time gospel as well as traditional hymns. With her CD player always close by, Granny played The Happy Goodmans, Ricky Skaggs, and Andy Griffith at the highest volume.
A genuine treasure, Granny connected with her grandchildren through common interests - Heather’s love of Star Trek; Randy’s love for football and baseball especially his Pittsburgh Steelers (her teams: Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins); Angela’s love for all creatures great and small; Candace’s love for teaching; Tonya’s love for vintage “pretties”. Granny affectionately developed nicknames for her great-grandchildren - My William, Atty Watty, Juddy Boy, and Sweet Little Lady for LuLu. Granny’s musical tastes also included The Doobie Brothers, Eric Clapton, and Tom Petty thanks to her grandchildren.
Granny was known for her Granny-isms. She would “putz” around the house when taking it easy. She quickly clothed her children and grandchildren after bathing so they were not “naked as jaybirds”. When talking to little ones she would reference how the parent would “bop you” if you needed a spanking. One to never pass on exerting her sassiness, Granny said, “don’t put that off on me” when speaking of how she developed so many strong girls in her family. She would say “that tickles me” when things were funny. As times became more digital, Granny referred to social media as the “face page”. After watching a commercial on television, Granny would connect its tag-line when moving on to her housework - “I might just Baby Ruth my way into the kitchen to get my dishes done.” Each morning she watched WBTV for hours from the CBS Morning Show all the way through her "stories" with The Young and the Restless as her favorite soap opera. Granny loved Hallmark Channel movies including the "Christmas in July" programs. As a reader of Jannette Oake's historical Christian fiction, she loved many of the Hallmark movie remakes. Most recently, she loved HGTV. In her younger years, Granny enjoyed painting and "sprucing up" her home. She spoke of her feelings of fulfillment and pride when simple additions were made.
There will never be a person more worthy of imitation than Granny Hartsog.
“The House of Prayer”
Just close your eyes
and open your heart
And feel your worries
and cares depart,
Just yield yourself
to the Father above
And let Him hold you
secure in His love.
So when you are tired,
discouraged, and blue,
There’s always one door
that is open to you -
That is the door
to the house of prayer
And you’ll find God waiting
to meet you there.
--Helen Steiner Rice
"Walking with Grandma"
I like to walk with Grandma,
Her steps are short like mine.
She doesn't say "Now hurry up,"
She always takes her time.
I like to walk with Grandma,
Her eyes see things like mine do…
Wee pebbles bright,
a funny cloud,
Half-hidden drops of dew.
Most people have to hurry,
They do not stop to see…
I'm glad that God made Grandma,
Unrushed and young like me!
A graveside celebration of life will be held on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 2:00 in the afternoon at Ashelawn Memorial Chapel and Gardens. Reverend JC Darnell will officiate her service. Music will be provided by one of Granny’s favorite groups, the Fleetwood Folk Band. Please honor Granny on this day by wearing bold and bright colors if you choose.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ashe County Public Library Bookmobile, Ashe County Humane Society, and Imagination Ashe - Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Levia Leona (Fizer) Hartsog, please visit our floral store.