When I started attending the 11:00 service at Glenn in 2013, a lot of it was new to me. The morning prayer, back then usually offered by Josh Amerson, was always meaningful – and helpful too, since prayer was novel in my life. And toward the end of the prayer, he held up to God a list of those coping with failures of the body.
Over time I started noticing how many of these people stayed on the list, week after week, month after month. The litany of names began to take on a recognizable rhythm, but while the sounds and syllables of the names have become familiar, I know nothing of the people they denote. Who are they? What are they facing? What do they like to do? What are they proud of? What would they want us to know about them?
Annette Stephens is one of those names. She suffers from Alzheimer’s and lives at Brighton Gardens in Buckhead.
Her husband Wesley Stephens told me that he and Annette first met on the way to Lake Junaluska, as part of a Methodist caravan. They were both in college and saw each other two more times in Atlanta after summer was over. “The third time, it took,” he says. They were married in 1952 and had four children, Lynn, Dan, Dot, and Jimmy.
One of five children born to Mary and Wiley Aiken, Annette grew up in Pennington, Georgia (the home of Pennington Seed), which sits on the banks of the Little River, about 60 miles east of Atlanta. Wiley died of pneumonia in 1930 and Mary was left to raise her children alone on a cotton farm in the midst of the depression. They lived without indoor plumbing or electricity until Annette was in college.
The Stephens served churches in the North Georgia conference for 25 years, and when her youngest child started school, Annette started teaching at Clark Middle School in Athens, Georgia. She taught science and managing “the little savages” kept her on her toes, Wesley says.
As a working mom of four, she didn’t have a lot of free time, but she loved walking, camping and traveling. “Nine times we traveled as a family to go camping out West, each time for a month, and we saw all the western national parks. We’ve visited all 50 states and camped in Europe, New Zealand, Ecuador and Britain. We’ve seen some places!” he says.
Unlike some on the weekly prayer list, Annette is a member of Glenn, and first came at the suggestion of her son, Jay and his wife, Ann Berry. “Annette attended the New Class,” Wesley says. “When we heard that Ted Runyon was involved, we thought that has to be a great class if he’s in it. She enjoyed the class – always spoke up and had good opinions.”
When I ask Wesley for a fond memory of Annette, he says after coming up in such a humble place, she was a conservative person. “One day, the kids came running in the kitchen to announce they’d seen a story in the paper about how you could feed a family of four on some small number of dollars a day. But Annette was unimpressed and said, ‘I feed a family of six for less than that!’”
He also wants us to know how much they appreciate the visitors Annette has had from Glenn and how much she’s enjoyed them. “She still knows us and she’s happy,” he says.
The Glenn Communications Committee