News from the Tennessee Valley Living Today
SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2005

Cathy D. Wahl

Garden tour an opportunity to grab ideas

Spend a delightful Saturday afternoon committing grand larceny.

For a paltry admission fee of $8, you can steal ideas from five outstanding Hartselle gardens. Hartselle Beautification Association will present its annual spring garden tour Saturday, May 14, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Filch ideas from artist Gayle Strider and husband Dale, who will open their garden and her studio at 1026 Main St. E. Doyle and Faye Walker's rose garden at 415 McClanahan St. S.E. is next, followed by Mike and Mary Nell Black's backyard garden at 800 Vaughn Bridge Road; the famous Japanese garden at Sonoco (Baker Division), 3040 U.S. 31 S.; Michael and Cindi Clark's backyard garden at 1108 Barkley St.; and Thomas and Donna Scott's garden at 2901 Celestial Drive S.W.

Garden Tour 2005 begins at 11 a.m. in Earth Park off Main Street, which has recently been adopted and revamped. Beautification Director Carolyn Wallace says tickets with maps can be bought at tour locations on Saturday. Jenny Tanksley has arranged for advance ticket sales at the Hartselle Chamber of Commerce, Hartselle City Hall and several other locations downtown.

At Earth Park, garden enthusiasts will enjoy entertainment arranged by Linda Webster. Nancy Phelps is organizing a concession for those who need to boost their strength with a snack. Carolyn tells us several local gardeners will offer cuttings. Wal-Mart will have a selection of flowers and gardening equipment available.

Profits from the spring garden tour help the Hartselle Beautification Association fulfill its duties to beautify and maintain open spots in the city. "Hartselle Beautification maintains all the medians on Highway 31," said Carolyn. "We've put pots with ferns all over town. We pay the water bills for all the green spaces that have to be irrigated, and we upgrade and maintain Earth Park, which has had a lot of vandalism in the past."

For information, call the Hartselle Beautification Association at 773-0300.


Young ladies who will trade high school textbooks for college books in the fall are invited to find out about sorority life at a May 21 tea.

The Greater Decatur Panhellenic Association will host its annual mother-daughter ice water tea Saturday, May 21, at 2 p.m. at Colonial Mall. Panhellenic president Mary Pettey says the tea will take place in the mall's Community Room in the J.C. Penney wing.

"This is for any girl who wants to find out if sororities are for her," said Mary. "We'll have alumnae and active members there with displays for their sororities, and we'll answer all kinds of questions. If you're not sure whether or not you want to join a sorority, this is the place to come to get more information."

The tea is free to any girl graduating from high school this spring or transferring to a four-year college in the fall. For information, call Mary at 350-9013. Sorority members who want to represent their groups at the tea should also call Mary for details.

Carrie Beth at large

It's a busy spring for Donna Houston's two children.

The entire family gathered in Mobile on a recent weekend for son Jason Gantt's wedding. On the way to Mobile, Donna and husband Sam Houston stopped for a day in Birmingham to help daughter Carrie Beth Gantt celebrate her induction into Phi Beta Kappa.

Carrie Beth will graduate May 28 from Birmingham-Southern College. She also won recognition for her memberships in Mortar Board and Alpha Lambda Delta honoraries. Donna reports that Seth Persons, a fellow Decatur student, was also inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at BSC — "pretty great representation from Decatur, I think," says Donna.

Both Seth and Carrie Beth hope to go to Hungary for a year to teach English at a sister school to BSC.

If that doesn't happen, she already has a job teaching English at St. Aloyisius School in Harlem. New York City will be quite a change from Birmingham!

Carrie Beth and Jason are also the children of Greg Gantt.

25 walks

How many miles have mental health supporters walked in 24 years?

Not nearly enough.

The 25th annual Mental Health Association V.I.P. Walk-A-Thon will send another few hundred people on a short journey to keep the Mental Health Association of Morgan County helping local citizens.

This year's walk is set for Saturday, May 14, at 8:30 a.m. at Rhodes Ferry Park. The crowd will go to the Holiday Inn and enjoy a brunch with prizes for top fund-raisers (rain means the walkers convene at the Holiday Inn).

Walk-A-Thon founder Dr. George Hansberry will lead this year's walk. Dr. Hansberry, who retired from his medical practice in February after 40 years, created the V.I. P. Walk-A-Thon in 1981. He and his wife Cathy are both past presidents of the MHA.

Dee Dee Murphy is the 2005 chairman. Her brainchild is "Walk-A-Thon Kids" for youth ages 10 to 16. Youth who work under the supervision of their parents and raise $50 will get a T-shirt, participate in the walk and enjoy a swim party at the Holiday Inn.

Gail Warth is recruiting prizes for captains whose teams raise the most money, the V.I.P. who raises the most money, the V.I.P. with the most contributors and the captain with the most V.I.P.s. There will be drawings for door prizes at the breakfast. The Sophisticated Swingers have been invited to perform at the breakfast. There will also be prizes for the "Walk-A-Thon Kids."

Walk-A-Thon captains raise $500 by recruiting at least five V.I.P.s who each raise or contribute $100. Captains and V.I.P.s are invited to walk to the Holiday Inn where they'll get a T-shirt and breakfast.

Some of the captains include: Mark Jacob (president of MHA), Allen Stover, Johnson Ogun, Christy Flannagin, Tracey Sykes, Doug Shoemaker, Rick Richardson, Gayla Ashford, Pennie Wood, Jackie Bohannon, Nita Lawrence (record holder several years for the most money raised by a captain), Mark Moody, Jason Murphy, Peter Neil, Anna Wilson, Cathy Farley, Mike Sandoval, Karockas Watkins and Gail Warth.

To volunteer as a captain or V.I.P., call the MHA office at 353-1160 for information and materials. To make a donation, call a captain or the MHA office.

Walk-A-Thon profits help the MHA provide programs and services for Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers, adults with serious mental illness, summer camp for children with Attention Deficit Disorder, rape response advocacy program, the Morgan County Substance Abuse Network, Widowed Persons Services, Depression Support Group and the "I'm Thumbody" self-esteem program.

Newcomers of Decatur

Newcomers Club of Decatur will welcome the mystery winner of "Mission: Makeover" at its meeting Wednesday at Burningtree Country Club.

Newcomers meets at l0:30 a.m. for lunch and getting acquainted. Anybody who's new to Decatur — or new again — is welcome to visit Newcomers to make new friends and get to know the community a little better.

Members should also bring a homemade item for the bake sale, which will raise money for the March of Dimes.

Reserve a place at the luncheon by Sunday at 5 p.m. by calling Patsy Grocke at 309-5845 or Stacie Thompson at 751-4773. Child care is available — just mention that you'll need it when you make your reservation.

Tea and tour

Take a tour of Windy Hill, the lovely home of Frances Philpot-Evans and her handsome husband Art Evans, and do some good for the community, too.

Mrs. Philpot-Evans and Mr. Evans will share their home — the columned two-story surrounded by Wal-Mart's asphalt — on May 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. to benefit the Committee on Church Cooperation. Tickets are $10 per person and are available now from CCC representatives and at the office on First Avenue Northeast in Decatur.

"She called us and wanted to do this for CCC," said board member Carol Bolding. "It's such a wonderful home. They have so many things that they collected on their travels."

Windy Hill is a legacy from Mrs. Philpot-Evans' family, the Englishes. It was also the home of her first husband, Frank Philpot, who served as president of Athens College — now Athens State University.

Guests will enjoy music by the George Hamilton Jazz Combo while they savor tea fare in the outdoor lingering garden. The hearty menu will include open-faced sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, tea cakes, banana bread with orange cream cheese filling and punch.

CCC combines the efforts of many Decatur area churches to provide emergency and short-term assistance to people in need. Board members also include Tommy Sharp, Ann Adkison, Beverly Johnson, Nancy Armistead, Dr. Charles Betts, Elaine Collins, George Dirks, Greg Etheridge, Mildred Payne, Russell Smith and Amy Lovelace.

Gilchrists gang together

Hardly a Gilchrist was left wandering the earth the weekend of April 17.

They were all gathered in Courtland to celebrate a rare reunion of descendents of Malcolm Gilchrist, who settled in Alabama in the early 1800s and made his fortune hauling cotton over the treacherous Muscle Shoals in the Tennessee River.

Gilchrist kin are scattered through the South, but the still call Courtland home. Lou and Bobby Greene opened the reunion at their home with a Friday evening barbecue. Some 50 family members lingered in the yard. It was the only chance for Carthage, Miss., residents Carolyn and Dan Gilchrist and daughter Lillian Thomas, husband David and their two daughters to visit. Dan had to get back to preaching duties in Carthage.

Dooley Gilchrist, 73, father of 10 girls and one boy, enjoyed a weekend visiting with family members before going back to his life guiding hunters in Texas and New Mexico. Jim Greene of Sulligent; Bill and Sister Gilchrist of Birmingham; Courtland's Bob Gilchrist, Charlotte and Cary Hotchkiss, Ginny and Bill Fite, D.D. Martin, Will Greene, Diane and Billy Hudson and Richard Thompson; Mac Greene of Auburn; Anne Bankhead and husband Ken Penegar of Nashville; and Mary Louise Ogle of Decatur mingled.

The party continued Saturday at Elk River Lodge. Moulton's David Martin, there with son Dillon of Moulton, taped an extensive family tree to the long hallway wall. Everybody had to check facts "on the wall" and update with deaths, births, weddings and other life changes. Newspaper articles and old photos, especially of the old Rocky Hill Castle, which was owned by family members, provided plenty of discussion material.

More Gilchrist relatives crowding the rooms were Pryor and Leah Rice of Birmingham; Bob Gilchrist and wife Julie with Whitney and Bob from Jackson, Miss.; Maryann and Bill Barnes of Decatur with daughter Mary Louise Ogle and Jim and Tammy Barnes; James Marsh of Atlanta; Lynn and Edith Haney; James and Alison Gilchrist and daughter Kayla with his mom Robbie Gilchrist and brother John Gilchrist with girlfriend Hayley Grissom; and some of Dooley's children — Ellen, Lucy, Louise, Aurora and Kathleen with husbands, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as Dooley's ex-wife Mary.

Mary Ruffin and Lee Moore of Tuscaloosa joined Mary's parents Menine and David Rice (who later celebrated David's 60th birthday with a trip to New York City with their buddies Bingham and Bunny Edwards).

More Gilchrist kin flooding Lawrence County: Dot Straub of Birmingham; Bobbie and Bucky Patton of Athens; Marilyn Lovelace, Bill Hotchkiss and Josephine and Uhland Redd, all of the Florence area; Robert McWhorter with daughter Cary McWhorter; and one tiny girl name Gilchrist Green. Among the few missing were Ellen Gilchrist, book author and college professor, of Arkansas, and Ellen Hotchkiss, a Houston, Texas, flight attendant and former Courtland farmer who was getting ready for her wedding.

On Sunday morning, Gilchrists swelled the congregation at Courtland Presbyterian Church. They invited the congregation to join them for lunch, where a Scottish flag flew and the Clan Gilchrist's roots in the old country were celebrated.

Hartselle '85

Hartselle High School's Class of 1985 is planning its 20-year reunion. Organizers Jennifer Raley Sittason and Jill Copeland could use some help. If you are a class member or know the whereabouts of any member, send your name, address, phone number and e-mail address to: HHS Class of 1985, c/o Jennifer Raley Sittason, 1033 Main St. E., Hartselle AL 35640; or e-mail jill.copeland@hartselleenquirer

East Lawrence '95

East Lawrence High School's Class of 1995 will gather again Sept. 10 at the Country Inn and Suites. Leslie Buttram Gillespie and Katie Nelson Randolph are lighting reunion fires under their classmates.

If you are a member of the Class of 1995 or know where to find some of them, call Leslie at 905-1591 or Katie at 353-8872.

Call your "Chatterbox" news to Cathy D. Wahl at 350-6983 or mail to 1225 Regency Blvd. S.E., Decatur, AL 35601. Fax to 350-6983 or e-mail to

Cathy D. Wahl Cathy D. Wahl
DAILY Staff Writer

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