Local News Articles

Former UCHRA Director Phyllis Bennett Dies

June 11, 2012
Phyllis Bennett

67 year old Phyllis Bennett, who ran the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency for over 30 years, died Saturday at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

She had gone on medical leave from the UCHRA last spring, but remained with the agency as a consultant.

She had been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Phyllis began her career in 1973 with the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency. In 1978, she was appointed Executive Director until 2011 when she was hired as a consultant to the agency. Phyllis served 4 years as President of the Tennessee Association of Human Resource Agencies as well as being selected Who's Who in American Business Women .

During her 34-year tenure as Executive Director, she not only established but practiced the agency's motto of "Delivering Hope" to the people of the area by providing access to services through each of the fourteen county offices she established. Her giving spirit showed daily when seeing or riding UCARTS or CATS (Cookeville's first mass transit system) traveling our streets and highways or providing home delivered meals and electrical assistance to the most needy in the region. Phyllis's accomplished goals show when visiting or seeing Tennessee Careers Centers or when visiting Lakeside Resort & Educational Complex which was to help displaced workers through educating for new careers or promoting existing ones in the hospitality industry. The needs of our young people were never far from her heart. The Upper Cumberland's need to house and council young people are realized through the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency's Residential centers; Chance, Indian Mound and Cumberland Mountain School

Her visions for delivering this hope were made reality by her leading role in the expansion of Cover Kids, which provides insurance for uninsured children in low income homes, the Imagination Library; the Highland Initiative with the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and N.C.D.S. Inc. and numerous other programs that assisted those in need. Although her passion was to provide for all in need, her heart was always for the people of the Upper Cumberland Region. She had an understanding of the needs for the rural area residents & fought to supply these needs.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Henry Clarence Redmon and Evelyn Redmon as well as her daughter, Tiffany Rodgers. She is survived by her husband of 28 years, Weyman (Wayne) H. Bennett; a son, Milburn S. Rodgers III (Patty) of Cookeville; a sister, Faye Fuqua of Smithville; a brother, Terry Redmon (Phyllis) of Lebanon; two grandsons- Matthew Rodgers, Murfreesboro; Nickolas Rodgers (Bethany) and one great grandchild, Aaron S. Rodgers, Cookeville; Barbi Rodgers Malfi of South Carolina; three step children - Gary Bennett of Minneapolis, MN, Nancy Manning (Colin) Hendersonville; & Christian Bennett (Lisa)of Hixson; four step grandchildren Courtney , Madison, Christian, & Hailey Bennett all of Hixson.

Visitation will begin Tuesday, June 12 at the Washington Avenue Baptist Church from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Services will begin at 2:00 p.m. at the church. Burial will follow at DeKalb Memorial Gardens in Smithville. Donations to the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency's Residential Programs or the American Cancer Society can be made in lieu of flowers. Hooper Huddleston and Horner Funeral Home in Cookeville is in charge of arrangements.

Four Men Cited After Traffic Stop Yields Marijuana and Paraphernalia

June 11, 2012
Dwayne Page
Sunny Dale Crabtree
Robert Anthony Cross
Tommy Ray Griffin

Four men were cited last Wednesday, June 6 after a sheriff's department drug detective stopped them for speeding and found marijuana and drug paraphernalia

22 year old Alexander Thrailkill of California, the driver of the vehicle, was cited for traveling 73 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour speed zone; 22 year old Jonathan Vincent Fusco of New York was cited for simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia; 22 year old William Rhotenberry of Texas was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia; and 22 year old Justin Daniel Fischer of New York was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession of marijuana.

They will be in court on the citations June 28.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that a drug detective, while working drug interdiction, clocked a vehicle driven by Thrailkill, going 73 miles per hour in 55 mile per hour zone. He pulled over the vehicle and then summoned the Smithville Police Department's K-9 unit. The K-9 officer and drug dog went around the vehicle and the animal alerted.

Found in Fusco's back pack was a plastic container with less than a half ounce of marijuana inside. A marijuana pipe was also found in the vehicle which Fusco claimed belonged to him.

The officer found a marijuana shredder in Rhotenberry's bag. There was some marijuana inside the shredder.

In Fischer's bag was a plastic container that held a small amount of marijuana and some rolling papers.

35 year old Sunny Dale Crabtree is charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Her bond is $2,000 and she will be in court June 21st. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, June 2 a deputy was called to an accident on Austin Bottom Road. Upon arrival, he found a vehicle, but no one was there. The automobile, significantly damaged in the wreck, was towed. Upon a further investigation, officers learned that Crabtree was the operator of the vehicle at the time of the accident, though she is not the owner. Crabtree, who was arrested on Thursday, June 7, admitted to being the driver and leaving the scene.

40 year old Robert Anthony Cross of Cookeville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on June 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, June 8 a deputy responded to Floating Mill Boat Dock where a man was reportedly causing a disturbance and was possibly intoxicated. Upon arrival, the deputy made contact with Cross, who was very unsteady on his feet. He told the officer that he had taken too many pills. According to Sheriff Ray, Cross was going to campsites in the area causing others to be alarmed and annoyed. Pills were found scattered at Cross' campsite, belonging to a woman who Cross said was his girlfriend.

55 year old Tommy Ray Griffin of Foster Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance (hydrocodone). He was also issued citations for failure to maintain lane of travel and driving on a suspended license. Griffin's bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on June 21.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, June 9 a deputy, while making a traffic stop, saw a vehicle cross four lanes of traffic heading toward him on Highway 70 west. The approaching car then got back into his lane heading east. The deputy got behind the automobile and pulled it over. Upon speaking to the driver, Griffin, the officer saw that his speech was slow and that he nodded off while speaking. Griffin was very unsteady on his feet. Sheriff Ray said that Griffin admitted to taking xanax earlier that day. Griffin had xanax pills loose in his front pocket along with a hydrocodone pill. The pill bottle for the xanax was found in the car. Griffin submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood alcohol/drug test. Griffin's license were checked and found to be suspended for failure to pay child support on October 23, 2011. The investigation also found that Griffin's vehicle had apparently struck a guardrail approximately two miles from where he was pulled over.

Sixteen from DeKalb County Graduate at Tennessee Tech

June 11, 2012
Dwayne Page

Presiding over his last commencement ceremonies, retiring Tennessee Tech University President Bob Bell handed degrees to 1,271 graduates during spring ceremonies including sixteen from DeKalb County.

Local graduates from Tech include Lacey Racquel Beshearse, Samantha Hope Cox, Daniel Ryan Foutch, Justin Ryan Lattimore, Kelly N. Merriman, Megan N. Pack, Candice Serena Powell, Daniel A. Seber, Heather Danielle Shehane, Ashleigh Dawn Snow, Ashlee Nichole Thomason, Hollis Lee VanWinkle, Geraldine Anna Wilson, Tyler James Woods, Chistopher R. Young, and Sara Lee Young.

Hailing from 75 Tennessee counties, 31 states and 14 other countries, TTU's most recent graduates joined the ranks of nearly 73,400 university alumni.

Part of the Tennessee Board of Regents system, TTU offers more than 40 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs, as well as doctoral programs in engineering, education and environmental sciences.

"PFC Billy Gene Anderson Memorial Bridge” to be Dedicated Thursday

June 9, 2012
Dwayne Page
PFC Billy Gene Anderson
"PFC Billy Gene Anderson Memorial Bridge” to be Dedicated Thursday

Local and state officials and family members of the late PFC Billy Gene Anderson, U.S. Army will gather at Dry Creek Bridge on Highway 70 Thursday for a memorial dedication to the local fallen hero, who lost his life in May 2010 while serving in Afghanistan.

The dedication of the "PFC Billy Gene Anderson Memorial Bridge" will be at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 14 on the east end of the bridge spanning Dry Creek, on the north side of U.S. 70 at Dowelltown.

Family of PFC Anderson, DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, State Senator Mae Beavers, and Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Commissioner Donald Smith are expected to attend.

The dedication of the bridge is in recognition of the life of valor and death in combat of PFC Anderson.

The county commission, in March, adopted a resolution asking the Tennessee General Assembly to name the bridge over Dry Creek on Highway 70 in honor of PFC Anderson, United States Army.

The resolution states "Whereas, it is fitting that the DeKalb County Commission honor residents of DeKalb County who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Whereas, the late Private First Class Billy Gene Anderson, United State Army, made that sacrifice for his country on May 17, 2010 while serving in Afghanistan and

Whereas, PFC Billy Gene Anderson served with courage, giving his life for his country and the beliefs he held. He deserves proper recognition for his service as a proud representative of the United States Army, and the greatest sacrifice anyone can make.

Whereas, PFC Billy Gene Anderson selfishly gave his life while serving his country and it is appropriate that we ask the Tennessee General Assembly to honor his memory by naming the Bridge over Dry Creek on Highway 70 as a lasting monument to him.

Now therefore Be it enacted by DeKalb County Commission that the Tennessee General Assembly be asked to name the Dry Creek Bridge the PFC Billy Gene Anderson Memorial Bridge and signs be erected and maintained to permanently honor the memory of PFC Billy Gene Anderson"

The bill was introduced in the State House by Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and in the State Senate by Senator Mae Beavers. The bill passed both chambers and was signed by the Governor on April 26.

Community Gathers to Fight Cancer

June 9, 2012
Dwayne Page
Cancer Survivors Taking First Lap at Greenbrook Park

DeKalb Countians by the hundreds filled Greenbrook Park Friday evening to show their love and support for cancer survivors and to join the fight against the disease during the 15th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

More than $35,000 had already been raised prior to the event.

Cancer survivors in attendance joined in taking Relay's opening lap around the walking trail, after an opening ceremony with included prayers, a moving testimonial from cancer survivors, and a song in their honor by Shelley Cross and Bonnie Rigsby, who are also cancer survivors.

After dark, Relay again paid tribute to survivors and those lost to cancer in a luminaria ceremony, with lighted luminaria bags lining the walking track in the park.

Several church groups, civic clubs, businesses, and service organizations helped raise money through sales of food, games for kids, and other fun filled activities.

The program also featured lots of entertainment, most of it singing, from the park's pavilion. Four guys even dressed up as women to participate in a male beauty contest where the winner is determined by having raised the most money during the evening. Todd Stoglin of Federal Mogul generated the most money at $358. Tony Nabors, also of Federal Mogul raised $352. Zach Thompson and Jordan Gash, both of the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church Youth Group, received $160, and $100 in donations respectively.

Funds raised at Relay For Life will enable the American Cancer Society to support local services and resources for cancer patients and their families. Funds also support critical cancer research and community education programs designed to teach people how to reduce their risk of developing cancer.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service.

Smithville Police Department Pays Tribute to Sergeant Brad C. Tatrow

June 8, 2012
Dwayne Page
Smithville Police Department Pays Tribute to Sergeant Brad C. Tatrow

Sergeant Brad C. Tatrow of the Smithville Police Department has been presented a certificate of achievement in recognition of five years of dedicated service

Sergeant Tatrow received the award from Chief Randy Caplinger on Thursday.

Others on hand for the observance were Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Alderman/Police Commissioner Shawn Jacobs.

Sergeant Tatrow began his career with the police department as a patrol officer. He served as the department's K-9 handler for three years and was then promoted to sergeant. He currently serves as a night shift supervisor. He has received the department's commendations for his numerous narcotics arrests.

Chief Caplinger said the department plans to make it a practice of honoring other members of the department for specific years of service.

(Pictured left to right: Alderman/Police Commissioner Shawn Jacobs, Police Chief Randy Caplinger, Sergeant Brad C. Tatrow, and Mayor Taft Hendrixson)

Aldermen May Revisit Lifeguards Issue at City Swimming Pool

June 8, 2012
Dwayne Page
One of the Lifeguards on Duty Friday at City Pool

How many lifeguards are needed at the Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool?

City aldermen thought they settled the issue last month, but may revisit it again at the next meeting on Monday, June 18.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said state regulations show that for a public swimming pool the size of Smithville's, only a maximum of three lifeguards are needed on duty, any time the pool is open for public use.

During the May 21 city council meeting, the aldermen voted 3 to 0 to set the pay of the lifeguards at minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for this season and to fund a maximum of three lifeguards at fifty eight hours per week for thirteen weeks. Alderman Steve White "passed" citing a conflict since his daughter works as a lifeguard at the pool and Alderman Gayla Hendrix was absent. Mayor Hendrixson said the cost would be about $20,000 for lifeguards this season, a little more than last year.

But during Monday night's meeting, June 4, Alderman White said he misunderstood the action of the council, apparently thinking that three lifeguards would be the minimum, not the maximum, that the city could have working during pool operation. "I kinda had a misunderstanding," said White. "It says (in the minutes of the meeting) the pay would be $7.25 and having a maximum of three lifeguards. I don't feel like that three is no where near enough to cover that pool. I took it as minimum," he said.

Mayor Hendrixson said his recommendation was based on state regulations. " I've got the state regulations here. On our size pool, which we have about 7,800 square feet in our pool. State regulations say we need three lifeguards for that size pool. If you've got one to twenty five swimmers, it says you need one (lifeguard). If you've got twenty six to fifty swimmers, it says you need two. And over 51, it says you need three. It's a Type-A pool and that's where its open to the public and we have about 7,800 square feet in that pool. But its whatever you (aldermen) want to do," he said.



"It also goes on to say that lifeguards shall observe from the lifeguard chair, except during instructional activities or during life saving or emergency type situations involving swimmers," said Mayor Hendrixson. " We've got three chairs. If you have extra lifeguards and they are not in a chair, I don't know what you would do there if something happened," he said.

"McMinnville has a 20,000 square foot pool and they have seven, and sometimes eight lifeguards," added Mayor Hendrixson.

"That's the way I understood it," said Alderman Shawn Jacobs. "That's all that's required (three lifeguards maximum) for a pool of our size," he said.

Still, Alderman White was not persuaded. " That's way too few lifeguards to watch that big of an area. You've got two diving boards. You've got the deep area. You've got the slides which is another issue. I think they have always had five plus (lifeguards) in the year's past. I just think that would be a liability on the city. That's my opinion," said Alderman White.

"If we're meeting the state regs I don't see how it could be a liability," said Alderman Jacobs. " I certainly don't want to put any swimmers at risk. I am not saying that. I certainly don't want to put anybody at risk or cause a hazard. Should we compromise and say a maximum of four," asked Jacobs?

City Attorney Vester Parsley said meeting the state requirements (maximum of three lifeguards) is sufficient." As long as we're meeting the state regulations, you could always be sued for anything. You could still get sued with ten lifeguards over there. Liability is always going to be there. If we meet state regulations then that's all that's required," said Parsley.

In 2010, three lifeguards were on duty at the pool under a previous tenant but Tony Poss, the tenant now, said in May, 2011 during a city council meeting that three is not enough. At that time, he asked for the city to fund at least four lifeguards at the pool. "In my opinion we can't operate this pool with three lifeguards. We can but it is not safe. We need a minimum of four," said Poss. State health department officials also recommend more than three lifeguards, according to Poss.

But can the city legally place a cap on the number of lifeguards Poss feels like he needs? According to Poss' lease, "The tenant (Poss) shall be responsible for the operation of the Smithville Swimming Pool, to include the hiring of certified lifeguards, however the landlord (City) shall pay their salaries during all hours of operation". The lease apparently does not limit how many lifeguards Poss can employ.

The lease also provides that the city be responsible for costs associated with the swimming pool. "
The tenant (Poss) shall be responsible for providing all water to the facility, except the landlord (City) agrees to provide all water, chemicals, and all other costs associated with the swimming pool. The landlord (City) will be responsible for all fees and charges associated with the operation of the swimming pool," according to the lease.

Poss apparently used lifeguards to help get the pool ready to open May 19, since city workers apparently couldn't or wouldn't do it, and Poss wanted the city to pay the lifeguards for their work. But since the pool had not yet opened, the city balked on paying. The pay dispute has apparently since been resolved but Mayor Hendrixson said Monday night there is a limit to how far the city can go with Poss. "The way I see that, we (city) are paying for all the utilities. We're paying for the water that goes in there. We're paying for all the pool expenses and chemicals. We're paying for all the lifeguards. We've done other work for him over there. He (Poss) is leasing the property. I don't know see how we would be obligated to keep it (property) clean for him," he said.

"I don't know if you can consider cleaning the pool an operational expense, " said Alderman Jacobs. "We've got to draw a line somewhere. Obviously, the lease has some holes in it. We had to rush it through because we were trying to get the pool open last year at the least expense to the city," he said.

Mayor Hendrixson added "And you've got to remember that the tenant (Poss) is getting all the revenue," he said.

"All prior tenants have always paid the lifeguards themselves out of pool revenue, " said Alderman Gayla Hendrix. I wasn't here the night you approved it, but apparently you have approved to pay for three (lifeguards) per day. Anything over and above that, I don't see why the tenant can't pay that," she said.

Alderman White said "But we did pay these hours last year (for more than three lifeguards) and that was at the beginning of the lease," he said. "That would be a good case, in my opinion, for his (Poss) attorney," said White.

Alderman Danny Washer said "we (city) have a contract and whatever it says, I think we need to go by the contract," he said.

Mayor Hendrixson replied, "It says we'll pay all expenses with the pool but keeping the place clean, since he is getting all the revenue, I wouldn't think that is our expense. We lease the hangar at the airport to a man but he doesn't ask us to keep his hangar clean," said Mayor Hendrixson.

"As long as we're not breaking the contract," said Alderman Washer.

"I think we're in compliance", said City Attorney Parsley.

"That's my only concern", said Alderman Washer. "This contract was made last year and I think we need to abide by it no matter how it falls," he added.

UCHRA Offering Shuttle Service to Relay for Life

June 7, 2012
Dwayne Page
UCHRA Offering Shuttle Service to Relay for Life

Good parking places get hard to come by as Greenbrook Park fills up for Relay for Life each year. But this year, you have another way to get there, without having to worry about parking.

UCHRA is providing a shuttle service from the new county complex on South Congress Boulevard to Greenbrook Park Friday evening, June 8 from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

"UCHRA has a van they are going to be operating Friday night," said Iva Del Randolph of Relay for Life. "They have a driver and the van and they will be parked at the DeKalb County Complex on South Congress Boulevard (Highway 56) or the old Food Center Shopping place. They will start around 5:00 p.m. shuttling people back and forth until 10:00 p.m. One of the complaints we have had over the years is that there is not enough parking. People have said they would like to come to the Relay but because they have to walk so far, they are not able to come. We are hoping that this will solve that problem. We hope that people will take advantage of this service that they are offering to us," said Randolph

The 15th annual Relay for Life, sporting the theme "Dancing Under the Stars", begins with musical entertainment at 5:00 p.m. followed by the opening ceremony at 6:00 p.m. featuring personal testimonies from cancer survivors and then a Survivors' Lap, during which those who have survived the struggle circle the track together to help everyone celebrate what has been achieved against cancer.

As the sun sets, Luminaria bags lining the track illuminate the night and then a hush falls over the event as Relay participants, survivors and caregivers gather together for a Luminaria Ceremony at 9:00 p.m. to remember loved ones lost to cancer and to honor those who have battled the disease.

As volunteers and donors, your efforts support research, education, advocacy, and services that allow the American Cancer Society to offer help and hope to people across the country when they need it most. By joining together at Relay, we celebrate life, friendship, and an opportunity to work to defeat cancer for future generations

The lineup of musical entertainment and events for this year's Relay is as follows:

5:00 p.m.: Jimmy and Alisha Stephens
5:15 p.m.: Kathy Goodwin
5:30 p.m.: Dessa Ray
5:45 p.m.: Suzanne Slager

5:55 p.m:
Presentation of Colors by Boy Scout Troop #347
The National Anthem by Suzanne Slager
Invocation by Dwayne Cornelius, Pastor of the New Life Pentecostal Church

6:00 p.m.:
Opening ceremony
Welcome by Ivadell Randolph
Introduction of Cancer Survivors
Song honoring Cancer Survivors by Bonnie Rigsby and Shelley Cross
Prayer for Cancer Survivors by Don Davidson, Pastor of the Real Life Community Church

6:45 p.m.: David Turner & Friends
7:00 p.m.: Page Family
7:15 p.m.: Gather Round Boys
7:30 p.m.: Terry Hodges
7:45 p.m.: Tina Boston
8:00 p.m.: Fluty and the Flutones
8:15 p.m.: First Assembly of God
8:30 p.m.: Kevin Roberts
8:45 p.m.: Wendell Judkins

9:00 p.m.
Luminaria Ceremony
Prayer by Jeff Armstrong, Pastor of the Smithville Church of God
9:15 p.m.: Smithville Church of God Youth Group
9:30 p.m. New Life Pentecostal Praise Group
9:45 p.m.: Elizabeth Chapel Youth Group
10:00-11:00 p.m.
11:00 p.m.: 61 Seconds
Midnight: Team Activities Begin

Fees Waived June 14 at Three Center Hill Lake Day Use Areas

June 7, 2012
Floating Mill Recreation Area

In celebration of the U.S. Army’s 237th birthday June 14, 2012, day-use fees are being waived at all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District day use areas by Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp, district commander.

"Fees shall be waived on June 14, 2012 at areas such as boat ramps and beaches where fees are collected by contra ct gate attendants or honor vaults," DeLapp said. "As we celebrate the 237th Birthday of the U.S. Army and its rich heritage of defending our nation and its citizens, we wish to recognize local communities’ steadfast support of our soldiers and families in this small way," he added.

Day use areas included in the fee waiver are listed by lake area:

Center Hill – Floating Mill Park, Hurricane Bridge, Ragland Bottom.

Cheatham – Cheatham Dam Right Bank, Harpeth River Bridge.

Cordell Hull – Defeated Creek, Roaring River.

Dale Hollow – Lillydale, Obey River Park, Pleasant Grove.

J. Percy Priest – Cook, Anderson Road.

Lake Barkley – Bumpus Mills, Canal, Old Kuttawa.

Lake Cumberland – Cumberland Point, Fall Creek, Kendall, Waitsboro.

Old Hickory – Cedar Creek, Laguardo, Old Hickory Beach.
This waiver for day use fees for swimming beaches and boat ramps does not apply to recreation areas managed by third parties.

Fees for camping, specialize d facilities such as picnic shelters and for other special use/events will not be waived.

This waiver of day use fees applies only on June 14, 2012.

Since its formation by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1775 with George Washington as commander-in-chief, America’s Army has added 183 streamers to the Army Flag staff denoting the campaigns that soldiers have fought.

Please go to http://www.army.mil/birthday/237/ for additional information about the Army’s 237th Birthday and the rich heritage of today’s modern volunteer Army. For more news, information and updates, please follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps.

Relay for Life to Remember Longtime ACS Volunteer Violet Fuson

June 7, 2012
Dwayne Page
Violet Fuson

The 15th annual Relay for Life Friday evening will be dedicated in memory of Violet Fuson, a long time supporter of the American Cancer Society, who passed away in May.

"She was a charter member of our DeKalb Unit for the American Cancer Society," said Iva Del Randolph of Relay for Life. " I believe she started in 1985. I joined a year later and she was such a mentor to me and to others. Violet did so many different jobs in our unit over the years. She will be greatly missed. We just want to honor her for the many years that she had served our county so well," she said.

Born and raised here, Ms. Fuson went to pharmacy school and later became Director of Pharmacy at St. Thomas Hospital. She served there for thirty years until her retirement and then relocated to DeKalb County.

Randolph, a second cousin to Ms. Fuson, said Violet recently celebrated her 91st birthday and kept active up until the end of her life. "She had just celebrated her 91st birthday in April. She passed away in May," said Randolph. "Anything we would ask her to do (over the years) or anything she saw needed to be done, she was always willing to help out. She did the memorials. She sent out cards to people who would give memorials in memory of someone when they passed away. She would pick those up at the funeral home and send cards to the family. She helped with Love Lights Tree. She helped with the door to door (fundraising campaign) as so many other people in our community did at that time. She was real active (over the years) and right on up until the last month of her life," she said.

"Violet didn't have any children," said Randolph. "She never married. But she had seven nephews and one niece. They're scattered all over the United States. They were very dedicated to her and would come and check on her frequently. Her niece came and stayed with her the last three months of her life to take care of her," she said.

Eva Willoughby, another active volunteer, said she and Ms. Fuson joined the local ACS unit the same year. "Ms Violet was a very special person to me," said Willoughby. She and I went on the board about the same time in 1985. At that time we had very few people volunteering for the cancer drive. We did a door to door campaign. Our biggest year was a $10,000 door to door donation. We thought $10,000 was a lot of money but then the next year we went with Relay for Life and found out that Relay was wonderful. That was the best thing we did here in our county. She worked with us almost up until her death," she said.

Randolph recalled her last visit with Ms. Fuson. "I had visited with her about two weeks before she died. We had a really good visit. I stayed with her for a while so her niece could go and run some errands. Violet remembered one of the last ACS meetings we attended out of the county. After we started Relay for Life, we didn't have a lot of committee meetings to attend out of the county. There were mid-state meetings, but that was more on the state level, but the last meeting we went to was around Morrison and when we were coming back that night, we could see a lot of falling stars. They were just shooting everywhere. There was just a rain shower of those that night. She recalled that. Violet asked do you remember, we could hardly drive?. She remembered how that at one point, we just pulled over and watched those stars. Her mind was very good right up until the end. We had a wonderful visit that day. She was just always a pleasure to be around," said Randolph.


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