Long-time educator has turned her energies and talents to new interests.
Q: Your picture has been seen a lot lately in East magazine, the magazine for East Carolina University and its alumni. How have you been making the news?
A: “We still have so many of our friends that see that and cut it out and send it to us (she is pictured beside her husband, Elton Roberson). In 2011, we had a 50th class reunion. I am the class of 1961. Since then, they have invited us back for college functions. I think the highlight for me was when we got the chance to lead the procession of the graduating class of 2011. They had gowns for us and we walked into the stadium on graduating day just ahead of the graduates. That was just a very special time.”
Q When you graduated, you became a teacher and began a long career in education. Your teaching career began on a special note, correct?
A “I was in first grade at Wakelon, my teacher was Eva Page. When I graduated from ECU, I came back to my hometown and I taught first grade along side Mrs. Page, so that was special for me – you know, she may have taught my daddy but I am not 100-percent sure of that. Yes, I grew up here in Zebulon and I have lived here all my life (maiden name: Brantley). I taught for 31 years, 28 of those at Zebulon Elementary, before I retired in 1995 and I continued to teach first grade.”
Q What was your favorite thing about being a first-grade teacher?
A “It has to be seeing the rapid progress that children make. Most children can learn very quickly. They are like little sponges – they can soak up a lot of information. There is not all that clutter up there – like it is when you are older.”
Q Since retirement, what keeps you busy?
A “At first, I subbed a lot at different schools and I enjoyed that but when I got 70, I realized I was ready to do something else. I am involved in a lot of organizations, some I have been a part of for a long time. I have been a member of the Zebulon Woman’s Club for 30 years. I am on the Zebulon Rotary Foundation Board. I serve on the Zebulon downtown beautification committee. I have worked with Meals on Wheels for 18 years. I am active at Zebulon United Methodist Church and I am active with Delta Kappa Gamma, an organization for women educators. I am caregiver to some elderly people and between Elton and I, we have eight grandchildren. Many of them are involved in sports so we stay busy attending their games. We have a granddaughter that plays soccer for Appalachian State. We have a place at the beach so we enjoy that and we are big on trips. My husband and I walk and ride our bikes – we try to stay healthy. We took a trip a few years ago where we visited 27 states.”
Q What was your favorite stop?
A “Yellowstone National Park. I went as a child so it was nice to return.”
Q You have endured quite a bit of heartache in your life. Your first husband passed suddenly at a young age, and you also lost a granddaughter and a daughter-in-law. What helps pulls you through those difficult times?
A: “I was 40 when my first husband, W.G. Griswold, passed away of a sudden heart attack. My daughter-in-law, I lost to cancer and I lost a granddaughter not long after she had surgery to correct a birth defect. They were all special people to me, and of course, it was difficult but even though it may seem impossible to do at times, I try to look on a positive side. I have tried to look at my glass as half full and not half empty. And I am very grounded in my faith. We also try to put our emphasis on our grandkids. There have been trials and tribulations – many people go through dark times – but really, when I look back on everything, I have been a very blessed person.”
Correspondent Dena Coward