These days she has permanently moved to Canton Nursing Center in North Canton, but she still seldom misses an issue.
That is because her younger sister, Naomi Ponder Alexander, comes by the Tribune almost every day and purchases a copy to take and share with Miss Nan.
Miss Nan and Naomi were two of my grandmother’s favorite people when I was growing up here in Canton. They were also distantly related to us.
It took a lot to be a favorite of my grandmother’s and even to be acknowledged as a relative. My grandmother did not assess people by what they had but by who they were inside.
The two Ponder sisters made the grade because they always were gracious and kind to others and loyal to family. They were well-groomed, neat and attractively dressed.
They were the epitome of Southern ladies and they were marked as good Christians in my grandmother’s book, and I have no doubt in God’s as well.
I remember them at First Baptist Church Canton in those days when they were young women in their 20s and 30s and I was a small child.
Naomi was 11 years younger than her older sister, but my recollections are of the two of them always together.
There were a lot of unmarried sisters in Canton in those days. Miss Elizabeth and Miss Marjorie Johnston, the Bozeman sisters and others.
So it was not unusual at all for sisters to live together and be out and about in each other’s company.
Somehow Naomi and Nan always reminded me of two other sisters, Martha and Mary in the Bible. Miss Nan was Martha, the serious, business-like one, and Naomi as the younger sister was Mary, the more social and pretty one.
One day when I was about 10 my grandmother told me that Naomi was getting married. She was a little older than many women who got married in those days at the age of 24.
Miss Nan would have been 35 at the time. Miss Nan had her own life, and it was a busy and exciting one. She was a career woman.
But still it was hard for me to imagine in my young mind the two sisters being separated.
When Miss Nan retired from Canton Textile Mills in 2011 at the age of 82, she celebrated a long and illustrious career of not only assisting the president of the company until the mill closed in 1981, but also in continuing to take care of the family business for the next 30 years.
At her retirement party Miss Nan noted that she was always in the office.
And in our memories, that is where she belonged, on the job. Making sure everything got done efficiently and in a timely fashion, looking after the family who owned the mill, and taking care of them in many diverse ways.
The Canton Textile Mills and the Jones family were lucky to have Miss Nan and she was perhaps lucky too to have them.
These days she suffers some memory problems, but I hope she remembers how important she was in the life of our community and how much we all admired her.
And I hope too that she realizes how lucky she is to have a true and faithful sister like Naomi who almost every day drives up from her home in LaGrange, where she moved many years ago to teach and raise a family, and buys a Cherokee Tribune to take and share with her sister.
My grandmother was right, as she almost always was.
Miss Nan and Naomi are two faithful, true and honorable ladies who always do the right thing, not because they have to, but because they want to.
There is hardly anything more admirable than that.
Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.