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Giving is attribute of mothers

With Mother’s Day approaching, it’s a fitting time to remember that mothers often touch the lives of more than their biological children.

Mayor Eddy Ford is quick to praise his mother, Wilda Ford, who he said influenced his desire to work and succeed in public service. “[My parents] taught me the value of money and honesty,” he said. “They worked hard at home and work and were involved in the community.”

Wilda, the youngest of 11 children, taught school for 30 years. It was her volunteer spirit that led to her career. Ford explained how his mother filled in for his second-grade teacher when she was ill. “Mom was always a presence on campus,” he said. “She put her money back into her classroom. She is the “kindest, sweetest, most giving-est person.”

Giving is an attribute often bestowed upon mothers. Lois Gregg is a mother who not only raised five of her own children, one of which was adopted, but gave her time to play a part in the lives more than 40 foster children.

Lois read a local newspaper story about a baby who was admitted to the hospital with cigarette burns. “She said she wanted to do something and she did,” Lois’ husband Bill said.

“It was the best feeling you could ever have to know you’re helping these kids have a good start in life,” Lois said.

Most of the Gregg’s foster children remained in their home less than two months but three stayed three years each. The Greggs often cared for handicapped children, including a blind child.

Now retired from fostering children, Lois said, “I miss it. That was the best time of my life taking care of those children.”

Lois now enjoys spending time with her five grandchildren and works in her church nursery in First Baptist Church Concord.

Lois said the best part of being a mother is “seeing them grow up and knowing they’re doing good.” She has heard about the progress of around a dozen of her foster children. Some have contacted the Greggs to say thank you. Others have found Lois by chance, once when she was recognized at a restaurant.

Lois tells of another reunion story when her husband was in the hospital. “One of the hospital workers pulled me aside and said, ‘I wanna show you one of your babies.’” Lois explained the lady had adopted one of the Gregg’s foster children. “He was nice looking, getting married,” Lois said. “I sent him a wedding present.”

After raising her own children and teaching school at Cedar Bluff Primary for 39 years, grandmother Pam Otto is raising her grandson, 11-year-old Grayson. “He is special to us,” she said. Otto explained how Grayson wanted to remain at Concord Christian School when his mother Krista Rankin moved to Dandridge. Otto and her husband work to make sure Grayson, an athlete and boy scout, is as active as he wants to be. “He is all boy and is delighted to be with us,” she said.

As well as raising a pre-teen, Lois also cares for her live-in 90-year-old mother Janett King. “God provides the grace to help you do what you need to do, she said, “I’m a real believer in prayer.”

About being a new mother Dana Strong, also a schoolteacher who took time off to raise her 16-month-old daughter Allison, said, “It’s a lot of work. I haven’t slept through the night in 20 months, but you get used to it.”

Strong said she works to set a good example for her daughter. “I want her to live by standards that she sees me living by.”


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