Beloved longtime neighbor Beth Booker died January 23 after a long and hard-fought battle against cancer.
Beth spent more than 20 years in ONK, and her contributions to our neighborhood are enormous. She served on the board and chaired the beautification committee for many years. With her husband, David, she launched the First Creek Greenway cleanups and led them for two decades, contributed recipes and stories to the newsletter, and shared countless cuttings and photos from her spectacular garden. She was instrumental in creating, beautifying, and maintaining the Old North Knoxville Park on Oklahoma Avenue. She even started the ONK tradition of the Easter Egg hunt for children, first held in her yard on East Scott Avenue and then moved to ONK Park. A dietitian by profession, she gave the world the Rule of 95: if the temperature reaches 95, it’s OK to have ice cream for dinner.
Beth was a gifted and prolific cook, baker, and knitter, wildly generous with her talents, her time, and her thoughtful care. The influence of her kindness, intelligence, strength, energy, and humor will continue making our neighborhood—and the world—a better place for many years to come.
A memorial event is in the planning stages for spring. Meanwhile, we hold David and their daughter, Lauren, in our hearts.
“Beth and David have lived in the neighborhood for almost 22 years and begin, almost immediately, working to create beauty in the community; gardening in our parks, partnering with KKB for cleanups, and twice a year 1st Creek cleanups (21 years!). She also contributed her time and energy being a board member and committee chair for Old North. Besides that, she was selfless in her individual support of neighbors and others.”
—Susie Laise Smith
“When I moved to Knoxville three years back I became involved in the ONK community. I live right in the middle of the First Creek Greenway, and wondered how it could be made safer and cleaner, a better place. Beth was the Beautification Chair at the time, and was very welcoming and supportive of my ideas. She was behind my efforts of connecting me with the right people in Knoxville. Now we have a better swing set, a planting with a park sign, and have plans to improve the whole park. Without Beth’s encouragement and guidance it would not have been possible.
“As time passed, I became a good friend of Beth’s. Though she had increasing health struggles, she would always care for my well-being. She has given me many seeds and plant seedlings from her garden, and we met there often when Covid started. Beth was a friend until the very end. She packed a wellness gift bag, which was delivered to me the day before she passed away. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.
“It is an honor for me to have taken on her former ONK position. I will do my best to continue Beth’s love and care of nature in ONK.”
Please leave a comment with your own memories of Beth.