Thursday, January 1, 2009
Birthday party honors community columnist
By SUE WATSON
Dale Hollingsworth, a 26-year community news correspondent from Potts Camp, was honored December 19 for her years of service to the town and to The South Reporter.
She is 90 years old and still writing, and friends and family gathered for a reception at the Potts Camp School cafeteria where she worked 18 years while her three children were in school there. She went to work at the cafeteria to help make ends meet after her husband had a heart attack.
Hollingsworth is a graduate of the Class of 1936.
Hollingsworth was a reporter and typist for her high school paper, The Windy Waves, and was encouraged by her English teachers to write.
“My English teacher, Eugenia Stroupe, would submit some of my compositions to help me get started,” Hollingsworth said.
Another English teacher, Ms. Dunn, who later married a Mr. Curd who bought The South Reporter, also encouraged Hollingsworth.
Her great-grandfather, Col. Potts, was the founder of Potts Camp and the first settler of the area, she said.
“My daddy, J.B. Potts, grew up at Macedonia,” she said, “and was depot agent 40 years.”
Hollingsworth took over as community correspondent for Potts Camp after being asked by Mrs. Harvey James, the prior columnist.
Early on she called her friends in the area to ask if they had any news, but today most people call her with their news of family reunions, visiting relatives, trips and vacations to be taken or those who have fallen ill or have been just released from the hospital.
It is common for people to drop by and put a note containing their news on her door, she said.
“I enjoy writing and have always put in my Bible verses,” Hollingsworth said. “I added the ‘Thoughts’ later and separated ‘Memories’ from the news about five years ago. And then I added ‘History.’
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. I get up in the middle of the night and write and read the Bible. I have no enemies but many friends. The Lord’s blessed me to let me live this long and to have good health.”
Hollingsworth wrote articles for the Tombigbee Magazine for seven years.
During World War II, Hollingsworth worked at a beauty shop in Aberdeen. She and her husband lived four years after their marriage in the little town of Athens outside Aberdeen during the Depression years.
“It was hard times back then,” she said, adding, “we had very little money.”
The Hollingsworths eventually made their way back to Potts Camp, where they raised three children, all of whom she’s proud of.
“All three got college educations,” she said proudly. “Jimmy became a preacher. He preached his first sermon at 15 at Potts Camp Methodist Church. We sat there with our fingers crossed while he preached his first sermon and someone made a profession of faith after his sermon.”
Her daughter Betty Greer, who lives in Union County, attained a master’s level of education. And the one child, Danny, who didn’t like to go to school as a child, attained a Ph.D.
Thanks to all who helped with the Hollingsworth reception, including Potts Camp School for use of the cafeteria; Betty Greer; Mary Minor, who helped organize the activities and get the word out; Lela Hale, who provided the guest book; and Joan Gurley, who baked the cake.
Barry Burleson, publisher of The South Reporter, welcomed guests to the reception and led the group in prayer. He called Hollingsworth a “Potts Camp legend.”
“The South Reporter is proud to be Potts Camp’s newspaper,” Burleson said. “And one of the most important parts of our coverage is the Potts Camp News. To see Mrs. Hollingsworth still going strong and hand-writing her community news at the age of 90 is amazing. We appreciate her so very much. I just hope I can write as well as her when I turn 90.”
Jimmie Collins, mayor of Potts Camp, presented Hollingsworth a “Key to the City” on behalf of himself and the board of aldermen. He talked about his love and appreciation for Hollingsworth and her dedication to the Potts Camp community.
“She a special lady,” Collins said.
Nearly 75 friends and relatives attended the reception and she received many cards and presents. Just before opening her presents, Mitch Stone, who entertained the crowd with Christmas carols throughout the reception, led everyone in singing “Happy Birthday,” to “Mrs. Dale.”
The convivial crowd included Sank Owen from Aberdeen, a former Potts Camp teacher and also a former community correspondent for The South Reporter. Several commented to Owen and “Mrs. Dale” that “Potts Camp was a wonderful place to grow up.”
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