Banquet celebrates lives lost to cancer
Hundreds of people filed into pews Thursday night, gathered with one thing in common: They were touched by a person who was taken in the past year by cancer, and those in the pews were there to celebrate the legacies those people left behind.
At The Wig Bank of Caldwell County’s 11th annual Legacy Banquet, Greg Barrett, Ruth Bolick, Walter Soots, Betty Storie, Kylee Walker and Jerry Woods were celebrated and remembered for the lives they affected pacted and the brightness and joy they gave to the world.
The event began with a dinner in the fellowship hall of Moutain Grove Baptist Church, followed by a banquet featuring speakers on behalf of the families of those who lost their battle to cancer, and a keynote speaker who helped the crowd self-medicate via her own personally developed tactics.
First to speak was Freddie Davis, a longtime friend of Greg Barrett. Davis said Barrett was a fierce friend who loved his family and his country.
Davis told the story of how he first met Barrett while working at Bernhardt Furniture Co., when Barrett asked him to arrange for some furniture to be brought to Lenoir from Florida, not dictating it to him as a boss, but asking as a friend.
“That’s how he treated people,” equally and fairly, Davis said.
Andrew Bolick spoke about his grandmother Ruth Bolick, who lost her battle with cancer but lived selflessly and passionately, a steadfast friend with never a negative word to say about anyone.
Cathy Bowman spoke for her father, Walter Soots, saying she has always been a daddy’s girl, and that he was a kind, gentle man.
“He was my rock,” she said. “At times, he was my entire life.”
Annie Deal said her grandmother, Betty Storie, was a kind, fun-loving soul who loved her family dearly, staying up late playing cards and watching movies with her grandchildren.
David Icard spoke of Kylee Walker, who lost her fight with cancer at the age of 4. Answering the question, “How on Earth can a 4-year-old leave a legacy?” Icard spoke of her intense love for Jesus and her resilient spirit that spread so much joy in her short life.
Lastly, Connie South spoke about Jerry Woods, saying the former Cajah’s Mountain town manager and town council member never met a stranger and loved his wife deeply, and his love for his family was evident, his eyes lighting up whenever he spoke of them.
But after tears were shed and the legacies of those who have gone were celebrated, a different kind of speaker came to the stage -- Sally Baskey, a motivational speaker who encouraged the crowd to self-medicate with her drug of choice, laughter. Laughter rushes the brain with endorphins, and if one can see the humor in any situation, life can start to get better, and no matter what is happening, good or bad, “TTWP,” or this too will pass. Sobs and sighs in the crowd gave way to bursts of laughter as she spoke, and she ended the night by coming back on stage in full costume as an old Texas woman, Ida Mae Fudpucker, singling out people in the audience to pick on.
Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons and his wife, Becky, also received the Wig Bank's Heart in Hands Award, which goes to “someone who goes above and beyond” in caring for the community, as News-Topic publisher and Wig Bank chairwoman Terese Almquist said.
The Wig Bank also gave out scholarships at the banquet to 10 graduating seniors in the county:
The Legacy of Hope scholarship, given to a student whose life has been touched by cancer, was awarded to Dylan Matheson. The Faye Arnold Broyhill Teaching Scholarship, given to a student pursuing a degree in education, was awarded to Lauren Owens, and the Martha G. Sims Scholarships, also awarded to a prospective teachers, were given to Morgan Smith and Grant Barnette.
The Gail Cutts Memorial Scholarships were given to Kayla Carroll, Anna Tuttle and Jordan Canterbury. The Dot Messer Memorial Scholarship, awarded to a student pursuing a culinary career, was awarded to Jacee Harris. The Sheldon O’Neil Harmon Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Clayton Graves, and the Betty Storie Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Austin Davis.