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Honor comes in many forms

Last week I saw many honored and I felt honored as well just to be witness. Thursday night was the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner. Along with entertainment from the Adam Larkey Band,
storyteller Judy Womack and an incredible meal from Pratt’s, much recognition was given to the Chamber board and all the opportunities and accomplishments for the year.

In the past that summed it up, but not this year. City Recorder Randy Trivette presented Chamber Executive Director Amanda Delp with a dozen roses and some words of praise on behalf of all the work she puts in. Just the event in itself is a huge undertaking, not to mention the many functions throughout the year, on top of the Apple Festival. It was nice to witness honor being given to someone that wasn’t expecting it and yet is so deserving for the many hours of hard work behind the scenes that go on to keep our county promoted and presented to the region and neighboring states.

Friday night continued the honor theme with the Unicoi County Historical Society Banquet. This event also featured a delicious meal and a touching and informative talk from Lou Thornberry on our local troops stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. Lou gave much deserved honor
to the men who represented our small community in that horrible attack. Following his talk, the award recipient of the night, Janice Willis Barnett, was recognized. I have known Janice for years.
In fact, we even carpooled some while attending East Tennessee State University. It wasn’t until
her book a few years back on Limestone Cove, that I realized her great passion for history.

She basically took a community she wasn’t even from and became part of it through two years of visiting families and doing research of their heritage. Janice took the time to pull together treasured family photos to help preserve them in a printed collection for generations to come. I was fascinated by her presentation at the banquet as she shared images of photos and stories that she could still so vividly remember. Janice was honored with the Walter B. Garland Historical Award.

Saturday I saw a different type of honor bestowed. I was asked to be a pallbearer for the funeral
of Opal Love. I have been to many funerals, as we all have. But, I was truly impressed by the
honor and focus this one had on the deceased. I got to know Opal several years back while waiting on my car to be serviced. She and her son Bobby were waiting on a car service as well. After quickly introducing ourselves, we began to talk about regions of the county and people we were related to. She shared stories of the past and insight on what were some of my ancestors. Usually waiting for a car to be serviced is tiring and long. That visit went by far too quickly with Opal and Bobby to share some time with. Since that day Opal would never fail to send me thoughtful gifts throughout the year. At Easter I would often get a basket filled with candy. Christmas brought a variety of gifts from a Santa rug for the front door to a fresh, outdoor, pine wreath with a large red bow. She was a caring lady that never got too busy to remember. Although I never got the valued
length of time as I did that day in the car service waiting area, I did get brief moments here and
there to chat with her again. I treasured each of them. I have thought many times over the years how much I admired Bobby for the dedication he showed his mother. I can relate to that so very much with my mom. She has done so much for me, has been my best friend, my prayer warrior and, to a large degree, responsible for the person I am today. Bobby never neglected his mother. He saw that she was cared for and got out with her often to ride from this town to that one while visiting or buying gifts for others. I have been to funerals where the minister barely knew the
deceased. I have been to funerals that focused on many topics besides the deceased. I have
been to funerals that were more of a “come to Jesus warning” to those remaining family members
that never dart in the door of a church.

But, Opal’s funeral was a well blended mix of scripture, music
and eulogies to honor her life. As family members spoke, I was reminded of the wonderful lady I had gotten to know but was also educated on the many amazing things about her I never knew.
She had instilled so many wonderful traits in her children, grandchildren and even great- grandchildren. It seemed that all who had been under her presence had gained from her strength and wisdom on life. It was nice to see such a beautiful and touching service to pay honor to Opal. It was obvious of the love her family held for her and how her life will live on for generations with the instincts she had instilled in each of them. I too have my memories and will think of her often, specially at Christmas when I see fresh wreaths of greenery.

From the publisher's desk
By Keith Whitson