Page 1

Edwin Judd • Page 4

eart H JUNE 17, 2011

Lawrence Stanley • Page 7

Gerald Waldrop • Page 3

Cathy Blanchard • Page 2

Young at Heart celebrates the spirit of those who, despite age, have continued to rise above, beat the odds, survive, have fun, give back, help others, stay enthusiastic, laugh often and live life to the fullest. These are just a few of those who inspire us.

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Young at Heart

Cathy Blanchard stands at the circulation desk at the Lee-Itawamba County Library where she’s worked for more than 40 years.

A mother’s touch

■ Cathy Blanchard returned to the library to work through her grief while brightening others’ days.


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hair, the vibe of tranquility she puts off is almost hypnotic, perfect for the subdued, intelligent ambiance of a library. Her unperturbed mien reveals no trace of the great pain she’s endured. After three decades of happily serving BY GALEN HOLLEY Daily Journal library patrons, Blanchard retired in June 2001, eager to spend more time In a world that’s often cruel and unplaying with her grandkids and baking welcoming, Cathy Blanchard’s gentlecream cheese pound cakes. ness is like a mother’s lullaby. Later that summer her brother, For more than 40 years Blanchard, Charles, who founded the renowned 59, has worked in circulation at the local singing group the Lane Chapel Lee-Itawamba County Library. Quartet, was murdered during a bur“I love being around people and servglary of his Tupelo home. ing them,” whispered a smiling BlanFour years later, Blanchard’s son, Jechard, who started working at the liremy, then a college student, was killed brary after graduating from Carver in a car accident in Georgia. High School in 1970. Blanchard got by with the help of her Generations of local folks have come family, including members of Lane to know that bright, sonorous whisper, Chapel C.M.E. Church, but she eventurecommending the work of a particular ally found that retirement left her too author or inquiring about their families much time to dwell on her loss, so in and loved ones. 2006 she went back to work part time at On a recent Friday afternoon Blanthe circulation desk. chard stepped away from the circula“I think being around people helped tion desk, making her way past the me cope,” she said, glancing back, over building’s western entrance to a quiet her shoulder, at the reading room. seating area, waving and smiling to “I do love people.” several regular patrons who noticed That love has made her impervious her. to the hate and resentment that might Blanchard exudes maternal warmth. Turn to BLANCHARD on Page 6 With luminous eyes and short, soft gray

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JUNE 17, 2011 ■ PAGE 3

Song remains the same

■ Music has been Gerald Waldrop’s constant companion.

Gerald Waldrop regularly plays piano for the Pontotoc County Library’s Luncheon with Books. He also plays at church, revivals, senior gettogethers and other events.

On-call musician

Throughout high school and college, Waldrop was in a series of gospel quartets, like the Songsters Quartet BY SHEENA BARNETT and the Keynotes. Daily Journal He continued to play and sing as he PONTOTOC – From church pews to earned an undergraduate degree at the army bases in Germany to the Mississippi State University, was draftclassroom, music has always been in ed into the army during the 1950s – Gerald Waldrop’s life. where he met Elvis Presley on a base The piano has been Waldrop’s treas- in Germany – and earned his graduate ured companion, but the 77-year-old degree at the University of Mississippi. admits their relationship had a rocky He went into teaching, and he start. taught at schools in Randolph and “I could’ve been a real pianist, but Shannon. Waldrop then took over as when my mom and dad had me play- principal at South Pontotoc, a job he ing piano I fought it like a wild cat,” he held for 19 years. Even in the field of education, said, “because I’d never seen a male music managed to seep its way in. play a piano.” “I got to know a lot of the students A little money and an inspiration by (music),” he said. went a long way to change his mind. When he wasn’t working, Waldrop “Then my dad offered me a quarter was busy with the piano. for any hymn I could play in church. “I think I’ve been in over 400 reThat was the incentive. I could probavivals,” he said. “I hesitate to say how bly get a drink and a burger for that,” many funerals, but I think it’s been he said. over 300.” He then saw a gospel quartet that For 37 years, Waldrop has been an featured a male pianist, and he was ordained minister of music at his sold. church, Randolph Baptist Church. Since then, no matter where life has He performs regularly for the Pontotoc taken him, Waldrop has played the Turn to WALDROP on Page 6 piano.


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Young at Heart

Gardener, golfer, grandfather shows no signs of slowing at 88 BY GINNA PARSONS Daily Journal

TUPELO – At age 88, Edwin Judd thinks nothing of putting in six to eight hours a day at the Tupelo Children’s Mansion. Officially, he does the payroll, assists with the accounting process and acts as the human resources manager. Unofficially, he keeps the flowers looking pretty. “I’m not responsible for all the grounds,” said Judd, who also answers

to Elder Judd and Pappaw Judd. “I just water the flowers and keep them fertilized. We’ve got two full-time groundskeepers here.” Judd, who has two children, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, was born and raised in Portland, Ore., and did a stint in the U.S. Army before moving to Tupelo in 1946 to attend Tupelo Bible College on Clayton Avenue. He stayed in town for eight years – his son, Stephen, president of the Tupelo Children’s Mansion, was born here – be-

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fore moving back to Portland for 14 years and then to St. Louis for nearly a half-century. “My son was called back here in 2001 to be president and we moved back here with him,” said Judd, who lost his wife, Evelyn, in 2004. An ordained minister in the United Pentecostal Church since 1947, Judd inherited the flower-tending from Stephen. “My son usually did it – planted and watered the flowers – but we had a lady

do most of it for us this year,” Judd said. “She did a real good job, too.”

‘God is good’

Judd retired from what he thought was his last job when he was 73. He held the title of general secretary of foreign missions for the United Pentecostal Church International in St. Louis. “For five years, I tried to be retired,”



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Turn to JUDD on Page 5


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Young at Heart

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JUNE 17, 2011 ■ PAGE 5




Edwin Judd, 88, takes pride in watering and fertilizing the beautiful flowers at the Tupelo Children’s Mansion in east Tupelo, where his son, Stephen, is president.

Judd Continued from Page 4 he said. “Then we moved to Tupelo. People say the way to keep young is to associate with young people, not to try to keep up with them. This beats sitting at home in a rocking chair.” When Judd isn’t at work, you might find him with a putter in his hand. “I play golf a little,” he said. “I belong

to the Tupelo Country Club. We have a house that backs up to the 14th green and the 15th fairway. That’s the only recreation I get.” Judd said he believes one reason he’s lived so long – and so well – is his genes. “My dad made 94 and his three siblings all made 90,” he said. “I’ve tried to take good care of myself. I’m not obsessed with it. I just try to do things right and moderately. Mostly, I’d like to say God is good, and has been good to me. I take no credit for myself.”









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Young at Heart

Young at Heart

Blanchard Continued from Page 2 consume another person in the wake of such tragedy. Blanchard strongly opposes the death penalty, even for the man who now sits on death row for killing her brother. “It just seems wrong. It seems cruel,” she said. Blanchard continues to deal with

Waldrop Continued from Page 3 County Library’s Luncheon with Books, as well as for senior citizen gettogethers and events. Still, he’s trying to keep his schedule a little more free. “I probably did about 10 revivals last year. I’ve done two or three already this year and I have another two or three lined up,” Waldrop said.

Passing on the passion

Waldrop laughs now that he once considered the piano a not-too-masculine instrument, but said listeners have commented on the difference between male and female players. “It seems that males get more atten-







loss and cope with life in the gentle, simple way she learned from her mother, 83-year-old Annie Richardson. The library seems to be a better place because of it. “She’s just a warm, welcoming person, and it comes to her so naturally,” said library director Jan Willis, who has worked alongside Blanchard his whole career. “When people come in, hers is the first face patrons see,” said Willis. “And that’s exactly the impression we want to make.” tion than female players. I don’t know why. I’ve been told it’s more striking to see a man playing the piano,” he said. He and his wife of nearly 49 years, Sammie, have two sons, Michael, 40, and Kevin, 37. Both are musicians and preachers, and were members of the gospel group Walk by Faith. “Our sons – they’re more talented than me,” he said. “They’re very talented. The Lord has blessed us and them.” Waldrop recalls a quote he saw once in a band hall: “A person without music is a person without a soul.” That’s certainly true for Waldrop. “I hardly know how to describe it. If I have a depressive feeling, it brings a sootheness or a settlement to me,” he said. “I feel the music. I’m a part of it. It’s not something I do without care or passion.”





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JUNE 17, 2011 ■ PAGE 7

After retirement, Stanley gets busy

■ He needs a calendar to keep up with his busy volunteer schedule. BY M. SCOTT MORRIS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Spending time with people energizes 81-year-old Lawrence Stanley. “I’ve never really met a stranger,” he said. “I guess I enjoy the warmth of knowing that I’ve made another friend. In life, to me, that’s what it’s all about, meeting people and learning more about their lives.” In his first job after high school, Stanley worked as a soda jerk at the old TKE Drug Store in downtown Tupelo. “I worked behind the soda fountain for nine years, making sandwiches and milkshakes and whatever people wanted, you know,” he said. “I loved being around the people. I would do it again, if I weren’t so old and they still had drug stores like that.” After TKE, he put in 31 and a half years at the Tupelo Water & Light collection office. He worked, raised a family and made his share of friends during that time. He also made a promise. “I promised the Lord, if he let me live to retire, I would devote my time to serving him by doing volunteer work at my church, East Heights Bap-

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tist,” Stanley said. He’s kept that promise, visiting with sick church members and cleaning the church building. He’s been a Sunday school teacher for 50 years. When his first wife, Alene, died, church became more of a haven. “It became my daily routine to get up and go to the church,” he said. “In fact, for several years, I set my alarm clock each day so I would be there when the ministers started their days.” He’s made tapes of sermons for people who couldn’t come to church. He ran errands for the staff and served as a church deacon.

Around town

Stanley met and married Mae Miller in 1995, and the pair continue to devote themselves to East Heights. You’ll also spot them volunteering their time in a variety of ways. You might have seen him serving food during the Tupelo Film Festival or taking up tickets at the Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival. “One of our favorite projects is serving popcorn at the Tupelo Furniture Market. Mae pops it and I hand it out,” he said. “We like to be ambassadors for Tupelo.” Stanley currently represents Presley Heights in Tupelo’s Neighborhood Development Corporation, and he’s put

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his time and effort into his neighborhood’s Azalea Festival. Stanley also served four years on the Tupelo Coliseum Commission. “At the arena, I just made a lot of new friends that I had never met before. I think Todd Hunt is a super person,” Stanley said of the BancorpSouth Arena’s executive director. He had kind words for the arena staff, if not for all of the building’s offerings. “We’re really not rock ’n’ roll folks,” he said, shaking his head. “We like country and we like The Gaithers, the circus and different things like that. We like anything that is different than loud rock ’n’ roll. We wore earplugs when we had to work a show with Civitan.”

Family and more

Stanley and his wife have four children, seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. “They’re a big part of our lives, too,” he said. A calendar helps the pair keep up with all of their activities and commitments. It’s true that Stanley has had to let some jobs go as he’s gotten older. At Luncheon Civitan fish fries these days, it gets too hot for him to help with the cooking, but he’s happy to do his part


Lawrence Stanley of Tupelo is on the board of directors for Tupelo Luncheon Civitans, where he regularly helps with fish fries and other events. by waiting tables or taking money. As long as he’s able to work and spend time with people, expect Stanley to keep volunteering here, there and everywhere. “God has been good to me by allowing me to stay active in my senior years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my retirement,” he said. “For an 81year-old man, I’m doing OK.”

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Young at Heart

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Young at Heart

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Young at Heart 20110617  
Young at Heart 20110617  

J UNE 17,2011 YoungatHeartcelebratesthespiritofthosewho,despiteage,have continuedtoriseabove,beattheodds,survive,havefun, giveback,helpother...