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Wilena Godwin worked her way through college during depression

By Staff
Senior Living
(This week The Atmore Advance spotlights Wilena Godwin. Mrs. Godwin is 96-years-old. She worked for 38 years as a school teacher. She moved to Atmore during the war in search of a teaching job. )
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born on Dec. 11, 1910 in Blue Mountain, Miss. It is between Tupelo and Memphis, Tenn. and is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My grandparents lived there when it was pioneer country.
Q: Who were your parents?
A:Houston Godwin was my father and Martha Elizabeth Rushing Godwin was my mother.
Q: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
A: I had two younger brothers. They have both died. Nobody in my family has lived as long as I have. It is not in my genes to live this long.
One of my brothers stayed in Blue Mountain and my other brother moved to a town close to Chicago.
Q: Where did you attend high school and college?
A: I went to a one teacher elementary school through the eighth grade. Then I went to Blue Mountain High School from the ninth to the 12th grade. After I graduated I went to college at Blue Mountain College for girls. It was a four year school. I graduated with a degree in English and History.
Then I went to George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tenn. where I earned my MBA. From there I graduated from Appalachian State College in Boone, N.C. with a librarian degree.
Q: What activities were you involved in during school?
A: I was not athletic. I joined a girl's club called the Girl's Reserves.
Q: How did you travel when you were younger?
A: We lived two miles from town, so my brothers and I walked those two miles to school everyday.
We had relatives who lived in town and if the weather got bad we would spend the night with them instead of walking home.
I never owned a car until I was 40 years old and then I had to learn how to drive.
Q: What jobs did you hold?
A: My first job was at Shady Grove, a country community near Ripley, Miss. I taught high school English there for five years.
After that I taught at a school in North Mississippi for a year and a half.
Then I taught ninth grade English at Fulton High School near Tupelo. In 1942, I moved to Atmore to teach at Ernest Ward in Walnut Hill, Fla. I taught high school English until 1968 and then became the school librarian until I retired in 1971.
I had a friend from Blue Mountain who had moved to Atmore to teach at Ernest Ward. I came to visit her during our Easter break and applied for a job opening at Ernest Ward.
During the war a lot of Mississippi teachers moved here to teach. I left Blue Mountain in 1942 when I got the job teaching English at Ernest Ward. I have lived here ever since.
Q: Did you ever marry?
A: I never married. I just never found the right one.
For one thing, I had a debt from my education and I wouldn't think of marrying until that debt was paid off.
I graduated from high school during the depression and my family had no money. My mother wanted me to go to college. she told me to go to Blue Mountain College and tell them I wanted to go to school, but didn't have any money.
They enrolled me and I washed windows and did odd jobs at the college to help pay for my tuition. I also had some scholarship money as a result of my good grades.
I went to the local bank and borrowed the rest of the money on my own name with no other signature or adult.
Q: Do you have any children or grandchildren?
A: I never had children, but am very close to a large family of nieces and nephews.
My youngest brother's son and wife come spend each winter with me. They live in Illinois and don't like the cold winters.
Q: Where do you attend church?
A: I have been a member of First Baptist Church of Atmore since 1946. I taught the middle-aged women Sunday school class for years and sang in the choir.
Q: What keeps you busy these days?
A: I enjoy writing and have numerous journals I keep. I also like to do puzzles. I am working on a jigsaw puzzle now.
Q: Have you traveled much?
A: A good bit. I went with a friend to the Pacific coast by train. It was a great trip through the mountains.
Q: What's your favorite television
show?
A: I do watch a lot of baseball on television. I love baseball. The Atlanta Braves are my favorite.
I like to watch golf too. The golf courses are so beautiful. It is such a relaxing and peaceful game to watch.
Q: What advice do you give to people on staying healthy?
A: They need to eat right, get plenty of sleep and stay active by exercising.
It is important to keep their attitude in shape also and be very interested in the needs of others.
In order to accomplish all of these they need to be a Christian because a person can't do all of this on their own.
(If you would like to recommend a senior to be spotlighted please contact Janet Little Cooper at 368-2123 or e-mail her at lifestyles@atmoreadvance. com)