Her life of 97 years set an example. She was a role model, and those whose lives she touched are better for having known her. There must be thousands of episodes to be shared, but I can attest only to my times with her.
We met in the early 1970s as members of the Canton Chapter of Women of Georgia Power Co., a statewide organization.
Our husbands knew each other on the job. Her husband, Oscar, died soon afterwards, but Estelle’s ties to the company, and to the women in that organization, remained strong until her death.
Local chapters met monthly and although their main purpose was to promote goodwill throughout the ranks of employees and their families, members were involved in local civic projects with the company’s motto ,“A Citizen Wherever We Serve”, as their guide.
At three different seasons of the year, WGP members from all over the state met. The big annual meeting (attended by husbands also) was in the summer, and was held in the closest large city to the home of the current president.
In the spring, we had officers training, and in the autumn, a fall retreat, both for members only. Estelle always went to these and was my roommate and caretaker.
We saw our state from top to bottom … Athens, Albany, Columbus, Augusta, Macon, Callaway Gardens, the Golden Isles, Rome, even Marietta and Atlanta, Rock Eagle, Unicoi State Park, Lake Arrowhead, Chateau Elan, and Toccoa Falls.
As if the state of Georgia didn’t have enough to keep us busy, the two of us went on a two-week European Tour in 1984.
After climbing lighthouses, walking all over Cumberland, Jekyll, St. Simons and Sapelo islands, and hiking trails in obscure north Georgia mountains and valleys, it was a change to see such sights as Rome’s Coliseum and the Catacombs at the worship hour on a Sunday, the Mall at The Hague, the canals of Venice and Amsterdam, the bronze of the David in Florence (where Estelle hung our laundry in the screen-less windows in our fourth floor room), the beauty of Salzburg as seen in “The Sound of Music” and the streets of Munich where we watched as the Glockenspiel performed its show.
But the highlight of the trip, and the main reason for going at all, was a special mid-decade performance of the “Passion Play” at Oberammergau.
In true Estelle fashion, she woke me that first morning there, telling me to hurry, it was already 10 minutes past 6 and we mustn’t be late to breakfast since the play was to begin that morning. So I managed to get up and get dressed, then happened to look at the clock. It was 2:30 a.m. Her eyes had played a trick on her.
We took a nap, and when we awoke, we were already dressed and ready to go. As she said about everything, it was just another adventure. All of life was an adventure to her, and I was so happy to tag along at every opportunity.
Homer (the MOTH) and Estelle were kindred souls. They would hold lively discussions about everything from pension plans to grass seed.
We still laugh about the time at one of the state meetings when Homer spoke jokingly to a lady that he thought was Estelle, asking her to go out with him that night instead of to the mandatory banquet. It was Estelle’s twin sister whose husband was also with Georgia Power. She pleasantly declined.
Estelle was a born gardener, sharing her secrets and her bulbs and cuttings. She took care of her house and yard, and herself. Not only did she know about nutrition, she practiced it.
She was an excellent cook, and most Canton Chapter WGP members still make turkey dressing at holidays from her recipe.
My most precious memories, though, are those from what we called Scrapbook Retreats, an annual weekend spent putting together the scrapbook for the year just past. It was usually just two or three couples and Estelle. It was a time to remember our good times, and a time to make new memories.
A priceless treasure, those memories. More recently she would go with us to retiree gatherings at St. Simons (where, Methodist person that she was, she loved to browse through the museum at Epworth-by-the-Sea) and to other retiree picnics and luncheons.
These lines from a note I received from Estelle in 2004 encompass her philosophy. I keep them on my desk. They inspire me to keep things in their proper perspective. “I stay busy pulling weeds, visiting nursing homes and fixing a bite to eat. Not a bad life.”
And now on to the next adventure.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.