Athens, Ala. – I received a call of a stranded motorist, so I headed to Clark’s Restaurant to help them out. When I pulled into the parking lot, there were my dear friends Tammy Breasseale Woodward, Connie Breasseale Waldron, and Doris West Breasseale talking outside. After assisting the motorist, I went over to talk to my friends. After the conversation, I asked the ladies if they wanted me to take a picture of them together. I snapped a couple of photos and we said our goodbyes. Little did I, or the family, know that just a few days later Tammy would be re-diagnosed with cancer, a battle she fought and won just a few short years ago.
On March 7th, I received the call from Tammy’s husband, Pete. I had first met Pete when he was working at U.G. White’s on the Athens Square and my wife and I owned Tortillas Blanco. We became fast friends as I made deliveries of our chips to the store where he worked. Pete called and thanked me for the picture that I had taken when his wife, sister, and mama at Clark’s Restaurant. After a couple of minutes, Pete began talking about the news that they had been given. It was cancer and it was aggressive.
Sadly, I had heard those words before. After dealing with my granddaddy’s cancer in 1998 and my daddy’s cancer just this past August, cancer is something I am familiar with. Like so many, I know what it does and how it affects loved ones. It’s unmerciful. Pete wanted me to know what was going on and I wanted him to know that I would do whatever I could to help as they face this battle together. With that, the “Together With Tammy” idea was created. Through the challenges, Tammy not only wanted to be encouraged by friends and family around the country, she wanted to be an encouragement to others as well. When Tammy was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2011, she not only became one of the survivors, but she also became an advocate for other women who were facing cancer.
Anytime someone hears the word “cancer” there is the fear of the unknown. Tammy’s husband, Pete, was by her side the first time Tammy was diagnosed with cancer and he will be there again. As an owner of a small business, the diagnosis presents a new set of issues. At this time, Pete needs flexibility when it comes to time and finances. This is how the YouCaring “Together With Tammy” fundraiser came to be. I know there are friends and strangers alike who are willing to help. In the past 24 hours, we have already seen it as people have contributed and shared the fundraiser and Tammy’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Together With Tammy is a group of caring people coming together to help bear another’s burdens. It is with that thought in mind that I would encourage you to like Tammy’s Facebook and Twitter pages along with sharing Tammy’s fundraiser. The family needs you. Tammy needs you! The long journey has just begun, but Tammy remains positive. As she sat the chair at her home describing the blessings of the day, the emotions came out. As Tammy faces this battle, her motto is “Let’s just do today.” That is something we should all consider as we wake up and begin each new day. At this time, I would like to encourage you to join our effort and “Let’s just do today”, together, with Tammy.
Fundraiser: Together With Tammy
Facebook: Together With Tammy
Twitter: Together With Tammy
The following is an article from The Alabama Courier concerning the passing of my 3x great grandfather, James Calvin Jones Gordon, on February 23, 1932, 85 years ago today. My great grandmother, Margaret Legg White, referred to him as “Grand Pa Gordon.” It’s been said that Grand Pa Gordon fired the last shot with a cannon as part of Ward’s Artillery Battery on Sunday, April 16, 1865, one week after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered. Grand Pa Gordon was also one of the first to be elected sheriff in Limestone County post-Reconstruction.
Athens, Ala. – At his late residence in Athens last Monday afternoon, Mr. James C. Gordon, one of the best known and most prominent citizens of Limestone County, departed this life at the age of eighty-seven years.
Born in Giles County, Tennessee, he came with his parents to this county when a small boy and spent the remainder of his life among the people of his adopted county, serving them in many capacities, always well and faithfully. When grown, he taught school for many years, having enjoyed unusual advantages and was one of the best educated men of his time, and he was sought in many communities as a teacher. Few men of his day had the preparation for the work that he enjoyed.
Sixty-five years ago, he was happily united in wedlock with Miss Mary Meals, who passed away seventeen years ago, leaving the husband of her youth to mourn her passing, together with three daughters and two sons, the daughters being Mrs. W.J. Legg, Mrs. W.L. Jones, and Mrs. James Jones, the sons being C.E. and Benny Gordon.
Mr. Gordon was elected sheriff of Limestone County in the eighties and served one term, rendering a fine service and leaving an enviable record as a faithful and conscientious servant of the people.
He has made his home in Athens since his retirement from the office and devoted himself to many causes, chief of which was that of the Confederate veterans, being a solider of the Confederacy, serving four years and seeing hard service as any man in the cause. He was one of the best informed men on the great Civil War we have ever heard discuss the question. He was also a very devoted member of the Masonic order and was one of the most regular attendants on the meetings of the lodge and was for many years secretary of the local Masonic lodge, being faithful and efficient in the service given him to discharge.
He lived by the golden rule as any man we knew. He believed in doing the right thing and did his part. He gave to his children every benefit he was able. He wanted them all educated, and he offered them the best education he could afford.
For some time his health has been such that he was unable to be out of the home, but was interested in all that was going on. He has been failing rapidly of late, and his death was not a surprise to his family and friends.
His funeral took place Wednesday afternoon from his late home, and his body was laid to rest by the side of the fine woman who journeyed with him so many years and shared with him his joys and sympathized with him in his disappointments.
When he was prepared for his last rites, his body was clothed in a beautiful black broadcloth suit that he was married in and which had been religiously taken care of for more than sixty-five years for this occasion and was as beautiful as when he stood before the bridal alter and plighted his troth to the young woman who was to share with him his future years.
To the children who will miss the passing of this noble father we tender our sincere sympathy. For nearly fifty years, he has been a friend of the editor of the Courier and as such, we appreciated him. We regret deeply the passing of this noble, generous and true friend.
Washington D.C. – We all have certain things that we would like to do before our lives are over. When you find out that your days are numbered, it puts those wishes into overdrive.
On August 12th, 2016, at 3 pm, my daddy, Mark White, Sr., received the news that no one wants to hear. “Mr. White, you have cancer. It’s advanced and it’s aggressive.” The normal questions flowed. “How long do I have?”, “What will be my quality of life?”, “What are my treatment options?” The doctor gave his best guess on how long daddy had to live. At the time, it looked like daddy had months. Daddy’s first response was “Well, maybe I’ll live long enough to see Trump sworn in as president.” Daddy supported Donald Trump from Day 1. He had no doubt that he was going to be elected president. Living long enough to see Donald Trump become president was his goal…his wish. The truth was, daddy had less than a month to live.
Daddy would not live to see President Donald Trump’s inauguration. After President Trump won the election, I decided to call my congressman’s office and see about getting tickets to the inauguration. It sounded like tickets would be hard to come by. In December, I received the news that my name had been randomly selected for tickets to the inauguration. They were for the ticketed Mall area. I was thankful to have tickets and be able to make the trip in honor of my daddy. A couple of weeks later, I received another email. “Good news…”, it began. “There are some people who received tickets who could not go. You have been upgraded to Union Square.” Here I was with an even better spot to view this special moment in honor of my daddy.
On January 18th, we hit the road from our home in North Alabama to Washinton D.C. I placed daddy’s hounds tooth hat on the dash and had a picture of him in the vehicle. A couple of times I cried, but I did it quietly. It’s just something I have to go through. The thought of taking a trip for someone who can no longer do it is very emotional. Especially for my daddy.
We arrived at my wife’s cousin’s home. It was about an hour and half outside of D.C. We enjoyed their company. They’re down-to-earth people and easy to talk to. On Thursday morning, we made our trek to D.C. to pick up tickets for the inauguration from Congressman Mo Brooks’s office. Parking was difficult. We found a three hour spot and spent one of those hours waiting on the train. We arrived in D.C., exited the Metro, and headed for the Rayburn Building where Congressman Mo Brooks’s office is located. Outside of the building, there was a long line of people waiting to pass through security. Brooks’s office had indicated that there was a 3 pm cutoff on holding tickets. It was 2:45 pm. I emailed one of his staff members. “We are here, but waiting in line for security to check us.” She emailed back saying, “We’ll hold your tickets.” We went up the elevator to the fourth floor and entered Congressman Brooks’s office. There were a lot of people inside the office and quite a bit going on. We picked up our tickets, and as were walking out, I asked Congressman Brooks for a picture. We stood along the wall and had our picture made, daddy’s houndstooth hat included. I mentioned that we only had two tickets and that my wife and daughter were going to stay with family during the inauguration. He told me to hang around and they might have some extra tickets. We decided since my wife and daughter were not going to go, there was no need to hang around. We went back down the first floor to exit. Before we left the building, I asked my wife about me staying behind. I told her that I wanted to see if I could get an upgrade on tickets. I emailed Brooks’s staff member and asked if there was a possibility of an upgrade. At that time, it didn’t look like it, so the return email reflected that. By this time, my family had already left to catch the train and move our vehicle before three hours were up. I went outside to see the Capitol.
After a few minutes, I looked at my phone. I had missed a call, but they had left a message. Area code “202”. I knew it was a D.C. number. When I called back, I was met with “Mr. White, we know you have your tickets already, but if you would like to upgrade, come back to the office.” I immediately began jogging that way. I called them back. “Sure I’d like to have them, but I have to go back through security.” They said that they would be waiting on me. A lady came outside while I was waiting. “Staff ID?” Staff ID?” No staff ID here. About 5 minutes later, she came back out. “Staff ID?” “Staff ID?” Still no staff ID. Then she said, “No bags?” I looked at both my arms and held up my hands. I had no bags, so I was shuttled through another security gate. I made my way to the office. When I walked in to Congressman Brooks’s office, a young staffer said, “Mark White?” “That’s me”, I responded. One of Brooks’s staff members said, “I’m sorry I told you that we didn’t have any upgrades, we actually did.” I really appreciated her thinking about me. I traded tickets. I was now in the “Orange Section”, right behind the chairs up front! I reminded her of the story of my daddy and why I was making this trip. It’s always hard to tell the story without getting emotional. The trip meant a great deal to me.
I saw Trump sworn in as president and daddy was there in my heart. For me, it’s about tying up loose ends. It’s about closure. When daddy was diagnosed with cancer, we had no idea that he would be gone so soon. We were making plans of things that he would like to do over the coming months. The months never came. He wanted to go see that Statue of Liberty, but the closest he came to that was through pictures one night in his hospital room.
If you have things that you would like to do, I suggest that you do them. You never know when you might not be able to anymore. Life happens. It was an honor to be able to see President Donald Trump’s inauguration in memory of my daddy. Now that he’s gone, it was the best that I could do. That was for you, daddy.
Athens, Ala. – The doctor walks in and breaks the news. “We’ve done all we can. Our recommendation is now palliative care. “Palliative care?”, you ask. “There’s nothing else that can be done?” The doctor responds, “Our goal now is to keep your loved one comfortable.”
It’s never easy to admit that nothing else can be done and you would do anything to take away the illness, but you can’t. The question that now remains is how do you make your loved one as comfortable as possible while they are here with us. Enter Hospice. The paperwork is signed and a few short hours later, equipment arrives and caring individuals are now at your home ready to serve. Along with your love and concern, these are now the resources to make your loved one comfortable.
The following is the mission statement of Hospice of Limestone County:
“Hospice of Limestone County is a care system for the terminally ill patient and their families. Care is provided by a team of professional and trained volunteers. The goal of Hospice of Limestone County is to help the terminally ill patient and family live as fully and comfortably as possible the lifetime remaining through pain and symptom control, counseling and spiritual support.
Hospice recognizes that we cannot cure the dying person nor remove the pain and grief, but, we can care enough to be there. Hospice offers the healing grace of compassionate presence.”
In an effort to explain what they do, Hospice of Limestone County website reads, “In simple terms, hospice is home-based care for the terminally ill. At the Hospice of Limestone County, we provide pain control, medical assistance and emotional support for our patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our focus is the patient, and our goal is to restore as much dignity, comfort and peace as possible to the time he or she has left.
At hospice, we accept that there are some things we simply cannot do-like remove pain or grief, or prevent the terminally ill from dying. Instead, we focus our energy on what we can do: reduce physical pain, control symptoms, provide spiritual counseling and lend emotional support.”
Hospice offers adult support like widowed person’s support group, adult grief groups, parents and families group for loss of a child, and individual counseling at the Loft or at home. When it comes to young people, they offer Camp Hope, “Good Grief Club”, groups at The Loft, and individual sessions for teens and children at The Loft, school, and even at the home when appropriate.
In addition to the above, Hospice of Limestone County offers: crisis response, training for managers on how to manage grief in the workplace, special events serve to provide opportunities for remembering lost loved ones, educational workshops and presentations dealing with death, dying and grief issues, as well as a library of books, videos, and pamphlets geared toward all ages and addressing all types of losses.
Each year, Hospice of Limestone County organizes the Chili Challenge to meet the challenge of carrying out the above services. The event brings businesses and individuals alike together to support a great cause. Funds are raised in various ways. From tickets at the door to booth spaces and a silent auction, there are many ways to contribute.
This year is the 29th edition of the Chili Challenge. It will be held on Saturday, February 18th, in the Athens High School cafeteria and gymnasium from 10am-2pm. Booth spaces are still available and donations are still being accepted for the silent auction. Last week, Applebee’s Tailgate Talk announced that they would be doing a “live remote” from 10am-12pm at the Chili Challenge this year. The guys at Applebee’s Tailgate Talk hope that this will help spread the word even further and encourage friends in the community to come out the day of the event. It takes many businesses and individuals throughout the Limestone County area to make this event a success.
If you would like to participate in the Chili Challenge or donate to the silent auction, you can contact Hospice of Limestone County by phone at (256)232-5017 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find a way that you can contribute and make your plans to be at this year’s Chili Challenge on Saturday, February 18th.
Athens, Ala. – As he laid there in Athens-Limestone Hospital, a nurse walked in and introduced herself as Pam Gaston. “I’m one of the nurses here and patient liaison…” Daddy interrupted, “Are you related to Greg?” She responded, “Which one?” Daddy said, “The one with one eye.” Pam said, “Yes, that’s the one. He’s my husband. We’ve been married 34 years.” As daddy enjoyed doing, he began to tell a story. “I guess we were about 15 or 16 when Greg and I went down to The University of Alabama…” I knew this story. Daddy had told it many times before, but this time seemed more special. Daddy continued, “Greg and I were in the Athens High School Concert Band together and we went down there for a concert. We both played football for Athens too and decided to run all over the college until we found Paul “Bear” Bryant’s office. We went through every building and opened every door until I saw that ol’ checkered hat. I told Greg, ‘This is his office! This is his office!’ I asked the secretary if it was Coach Bryant’s office and she said, ‘Yes.’ We asked if we could see him and she said, ‘Yeah, you can see him.’ She opened the door and we sat down and talked to him.” Daddy paused and told Pam, “Ask Greg if he still has that autograph.” I knew daddy had saved his. Daddy said, “Dan Havely, the band director, gave us a paddling over that, but I met Coach Bryant and got my autograph!”
Three days later, daddy was diagnosed with Stage IV gallbladder cancer. While it was suggested that he might have months to live, he actually had less than a month. He had a few more stories to tell, but that would be the last time he would tell his Coach Bryant story.
On September 3rd, Alabama was set to take on USC. Daddy woke up asking, “Where’s the counter?” I asked, “What counter?” Daddy responded, “The counter to sell tickets at the door! Ten dollars to get in and five dollars for popcorn!” We had a laugh. He was in good spirits that morning and ready to watch the game that evening. By kickoff time, daddy had the “death rattle” coming from his chest and wasn’t alert enough to watch the game. Laying in his Hospice bed, with family by his side, we watched the Tide roll against the Trojans. Two days later, on September 5th, daddy was gone. For the next several weeks, I had no interest in football and I had no interest in going on the radio show I co-host called, “Applebee’s Tailgate Talk”. While he was sick, daddy had asked me why I was missing the show. I told him that I was going to stay with him. He wanted me to go on, but I also knew I’d have very little to contribute with daddy’s condition. Although I felt like I was drowning, the Crimson Tide kept rolling.
Here we are 14-0 about to take on Clemson for the second time in two years for the College Football Playoff National Championship. Win or lose, it will be a season I’ll always remember.
Like Coach Bryant, daddy had his own style of checkered hat. I wear it now in my daddy’s memory. I’ve worn it around town, I’ve worn it on the radio show, and I’ve worn it to a couple of Alabama ballgames this season. At the Alabama vs. Auburn game, an older gentleman sitting behind me asked, “Where did you get that cap?” I told him it was my daddy’s.” He said, “It’s a cool hat.” I said, “My daddy was a cool guy.”
I never met Paul “Bear” Bryant, but I knew Mark White, Sr.
As with any of us, he had his flaws, but he was a good daddy. Football was one of our many common interests, namely Alabama Crimson Tide football. On Monday night, I’ll have daddy right with me in my heart. You can mark it down. Roll Tide Roll!
Florence, Ala. – Born on September 2, 1935 in Limestone County, Alabama, to Walter Guy and Evelyn Hillis Daniel, Carrel Daniel was an outstanding athlete at Athens High School where he played football, baseball, and ran track. A 1954 graduate of Athens High School, Daniel was recruited by Alabama Head Football Coach Harold Drew and committed to playing for the Crimson Tide. Shortly into Daniel’s playing career at Alabama, J.B. ‘Ears’ Whitworth took over the program. Under Coach Whitworth, times were difficult. With the coaching situation at Alabama, Daniel, along with many other players, chose to transfer. In 1955, just one year after Harlon Hill was drafted to the Chicago Bears from Florence State, Daniel joined the Florence State (UNA) football program. At Florence State, he would play under legendary football coach Hal Self. His senior year, Daniel was selected captain of the football team. In 1958, Daniel graduated from UNA with a degree in Business Administration. For 35 years, he was the owner of the famous Dale’s Restaurant which was located in Florence, Alabama. In 2014, Daniel’s was honored by being inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame. During his induction, several friends and teammates had praise for Daniel and his playing career. One of those was fellow Athens High School teammate and Alabama football player, Baxter Booth. Booth said of Daniel, “He was about 180 pounds, which was pretty good size back then for a running back. He could tackle, block; really do it all. We had some good teams back then and he was a big reason.” Another fellow teammate, David Martin, said, “Not only was he a good player and get a yard every time you needed it, but he was an even better person.” On Friday, December 16th, Daniel passed away at his residence. According to Elkins Funeral Home, a celebration of Mr. Daniel’s life will be announced at a later date. Daniel was a booster/supporter of the UNA Lions throughout the years until his recent retirement, illness, and death.
Elkmont, Ala. – At a very young age, we all ask ourselves the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” As we grow, there are many circumstances that lead us to our decision. In the early 1970’s, Donnie Johns was attending Elkmont High School and playing football as a halfback for the Red Devils. His father, Cedric Johns, was a lieutenant with the Athens Police Department, so law enforcement was in Donnie’s blood. After graduating high school in 1974, Johns didn’t find himself in law enforcement, but digging ditches, by hand, for Burgreen. It didn’t take long before he knew he wanted to do something else. Johns was hired by Athens Fire Department and would work there for two years before being hired by the Athens Police Department. Along with his friend and fellow officer, Jerry Crabtree, Johns was sent to Jacksonville, Alabama, for the police academy. He would serve the City of Athens for eight years as a police officer before taking short-term jobs with Steelcase and Saginaw. Johns says that one man he worked with made the comment that his kids were grown up and it was difficult to be there with them as they grew up. With thoughts like that in mind, Johns took a job with Athens Utilities and worked there for the next 17 years. Looking back, Johns says, “I may have never made much money, but I didn’t miss out on the things that Coty and Amanda (Johns’ children) did”. In 2004, Johns found himself back in law enforcement when an opening became available with the Elkmont Police Department. While serving at Elkmont, Johns also worked with the Limestone Sheriff’s Department, serving there for a decade. Today, Johns still serves the citizens of Elkmont as a police officer and works part-time at Athens State University as a security officer. As for the family, in March, Johns will be celebrating 42 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Vickie. His children, Coty and Amanda, are grown and they now have families of their own. Johns says they get to spend a lot of time enjoying the grand kids. The majority of Johns’ career has been spent serving his community while making time for his family. As a final piece of advice, Johns says, “you’ll never regret the time spent with family”. You can “Mark It Down”.
Anderson, Ala. – One turn off of Highway 99 and onto Persimmon Tree Road in Limestone County will lead you to Sherrill Family Farms. On their 13 acre farm, owners Justin and Lindsey Sherrill raise multiple breeds of pigs including: Red Waddle, Yorkshire/Hamshire crosses and Berkshire. As for a background in farming, Justin had been raising goats and chickens the last four years and Lindsey’s family had raised cattle and goats and she helped her family on their farm growing up. Lindsey said they bought their first piglet in 2015 and now have 44 pigs of all ages. When asked what led them down the path to pigs, Lindsey said, “we started raising hogs mainly to give people a healthy option for pork at an affordable price. We believe families have gotten away from the simple life, which is easy to do as fast paced as life is for people now…work, kids, church, ballgames, etc. God has blessed our family in so many ways and we want to give back any way we can and make a little money too.” Sherrill Family Farms offers state inspected an non-GMO sausage, pork steaks, pork ribs, and pork chops. You can follow Sherrill Family Farms on Facebook @SherrillFamilyFarms and message them your order or call them at 256-777-4177. From firsthand experience, my family can tell you, the sausage, pork steaks, and pork chops are delicious! You can “Mark It Down”!
Athens, Ala. – Suzanne Schrimsher says it all began in the home economics room as a student at Athens Bible School. Suzanne said, “Mike Ogles and other boys in class would come in our home economics room and eat whatever we had made for class. Way back then we talked about a bakery.” Fast forward 20 years. Suzanne had just lost her job and was in the middle of a divorce when her old classmate, Mike Ogles, asked her if she’d like to open the bakery that they had talked about in high school. With the help of her friends, Mike and Nikki Ogles, Suzanne’s Bakery & Eatery opened on October 17, 2005. Suzanne says because of her friends, she has been able to live out her dream. Initially, Mike and Nikki were able to be around the bakery, but other commitments have taken them away from the store. Another friend, DeeDee Butler, jumped in and partnered with Suzanne. Suzanne says that she and DeeDee raised their children together and have known each other for more years than she wants to think about. Suzanne’s Bakery & Eatery is no stranger to community efforts either. The business has supported Sydney’s Coins for Courage, Eli’s Block Party Childhood Cancer Foundation, Van for Laura, and others. Her business was started through friends and she has continued to be a friend to the community. What about the food? Suzanne’s Bakery & Eatery offers a myriad of baked goods. With fresh breads, cakes, pies, cookies, casseroles, sandwiches, and a variation of salads, you’re sure to find something you and your family will enjoy. When you walk into Suzanne’s Bakery & Eatery, you’re greeted by a friendly face (which may or may not have flour on it). It just means they’re working. Suzanne’s Bakery & Eatery is open Tuesday 10am-6pm, Wednesday 10am-5:30pm, Thursday & Friday 6:30am-6pm, and Saturday for bakery pickups only. You can check out many of Suzanne’s tasty treats on Facebook at @SuzannesBakeryInAthens. Suzanne’s Bakery & Eatery is located on 1207 Forrest St in Athens, Alabama. They can be reached by phone at (256) 232-8210. Whatever you’re in the mood for, at Suzanne’s Bakery & Eatery, you can’t go wrong. You can “Mark It Down”!