Gwen Alison Farned passed away on July 24, 2023, at age 80.
Gwen was born on March 18, 1943, in Louisville, Kentucky. She graduated from high school in Louisville in 1961 and attended Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, MS, graduating in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in speech with a minor in drama. She was a very talented actress and performed in many plays, culminating in a very well-received final performance in “A Doll’s House,” in which she played all the characters. As a member of the Methodist church, she used her skills as an actress and familiarity with production to successfully direct several religious plays at Heritage Methodist Church in D’Iberville, MS.
Gwen was married to her husband, Jim, for 54 years. She was a big-city girl, and he was a small-town boy. Jim’s father said that she was the classiest lady Jim ever brought home. The two met on a blind date in 1963 and became engaged in 1968, when Jim proposed via letter from Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, where he was based while serving with the U.S. Air Force. Gwen and Jim married on September 28, 1968, in Louisville, Kentucky. Gwen was an Air Force wife until Jim completed his enlistment in 1970, and she very much enjoyed that role. Jim and Gwen lived for a time in Daytona Beach, Florida, where their first child, Jennifer Gwen, was born on August 15, 1974. Gwen loyally supported her husband as the two moved from Daytona Beach to Orlando, FL; Memphis, TN; and finally, to their present home in Biloxi, MS in 1976. Their second daughter, Kathryn Mallory, was born in Biloxi on April 15, 1977.
Gwen worked as a legal secretary for the city of Daytona Beach, as a substitute teacher in various locations, and as a history teacher at a private school in Port Orange, Florida. After moving to Biloxi, she was a housewife for many years. After a short stint as the ISS teacher at D’Iberville Middle School, she worked for the Harrison County Library system beginning in 1991, first as a library clerk and then as the branch manager at Orange Grove Library in Gulfport. She retired from the library system in October 2005.
Gwen was active at church for most of her life. She was vice president of United Methodist Women at Beauvoir United Methodist Church, served as a delegate to the Church conference, and was a member of the Christian Women’s Club. She was also a choir member and an active participant in the social life of the church.
She very much enjoyed travel. Gwen and Jim traveled to many places in the U.S. and especially liked staying at bed and breakfasts. The couple formed friendships with two families in France and spent a substantial amount of time in the country, visiting other European locales during their trips. But perhaps their favorite destination was Desoto State Park in east Alabama, which they visited every year. Gwen enjoyed the tranquility and peace of Desoto so much that she wrote a review saying, “As soon as I enter the park, all my stresses drop away.”
Gwen was a kind and gentle person. Both old friends and those meeting her for the first time often remarked, “She is so sweet.” She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her family.
Gwen was preceded in death by her father, Richard Holton Sampson; and her mother, Mary Catherine Sampson.
She is survived by her husband, James Sidney Farned; her daughters, Jennifer Gwen Farned (fiancee, Jim Garman) and Kathryn Mallory Symmes (Will); and her granddaughters, Hannah Catherine and Mallory Ann Symmes.
The funeral will be held on Saturday, July 29, 2023, at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, 800 Porter Avenue, Ocean Springs, MS 39564. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m., with the service at 11 a.m. and a reception to follow.
Riemann Family Funeral Home, Biloxi, is serving the family, and memories may be shared at www.riemannfamily.com .