News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2007

Steve Stewart

3 generations in family are valedictorians

When Decatur High School valedictorian Meredith Gray gave her speech at graduation Friday, she was continuing a family tradition.

Cheering her on proudly were her mother, Phyllis Gray, who was valedictorian of her 1979 class at Holt High School in Tuscaloosa, and her grandmother, Peggy Gray of Huntsville, who was a valedictorian in Mississippi.

Phyllis told Patrice Stewart that it’s a lot harder now.

“Back then, you were just happy to be heading toward a college education; that was quite an accomplishment,” she said. “Now it seems there’s so much more emphasis on honors and achievements.”

The likable Jerry Falwell

The Rev. Phil Waldrep of Decatur was a friend and admirer of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who died May 15.

Phil said he met his fellow evangelist in 2001 when they spoke at a Bible conference in Illinois. They became “instant friends,” Phil said. Jerry spoke two years ago at a men’s conference that Phil organized.

“Dr. Falwell had the unique ability to put everyone he met at ease,” Phil said, as quoted by Melanie Smith. “Every time I spoke with him by phone or when we were together, he always made me feel like I was the most important person in his life at the moment.

“Even people who passionately disagreed with Dr. Falwell on many issues would admit they liked him personally.”

Phil said historians may remember Jerry Falwell for his involvement in moral issues, but his legacy will be the students of Liberty University, the school he founded.

Beatrice’s beauty trip

Mother’s Day is long past, but a Falkville Health and Rehab Center resident is still feeling the glow.

For winning the facility’s Mother’s Day pageant, Beatrice White, 83, got royal treatment from Oasis Day Spa in Hartselle.

“One of our cosmetologists, Vicki Bramlett, shampooed and styled her hair,” Kim Slaten, an esthetician, told Ronnie Thomas, “and I gave her a manicure.”

Terry Garwood of County EMS gave Beatrice the round-trip ride.

“From the way she was beaming on the way back to Falkville, it must have been good work,” Terry said.

Municipal service

Workers for the Olympia, Wash., public works department went beyond the call of duty in locating retired teacher Alma F. Coate-Wilson’s wedding ring.

Alma, 98, accidentally flushed the $8,000, 1.6-carat diamond ring down the toilet. City maintenance workers Bill Davis and Jean Wright sent a camera through the sewer line, but The Associated Press says it didn’t find the ring.

Then they flushed the main line, blocking solids using pea gravel. Finally, they went through the solids with a garden hose and located the ring.

“I was the happiest girl in the world,” Alma said. “I was floored.”

Send stories for You Don’t Say to steve@decaturdaily .com, or call Weekend Editor Steve Stewart at 340-2444. Or write P.O. Box 2213, Decatur, AL 35609. Daily staff members contribute many of the items you see here. This column appears Sundays and Wednesdays.

Steve Stewart Steve Stewart
DAILY Weekend Editor

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