A life spent in ser­vice

Lo­cal wo­man re­flects on her years of com­mu­nity and church

The Covington News - - RELIGION - By Colleen Capes Jack­son

Lil­lie Mae Dodd has been shap­ing char­ac­ter and mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of chil­dren, youths and adults in Sun­day school since she was eleven years old.

She cred­its her child­hood prin­ci­pal, Ethel Belcher, for lead­ing her into church min­istry.

“If you didn’t go to church on Sun­day, Ms. Belcher got you up on stage and you had to tell in front of ev­ery­body why you didn’t go,” she said. “So I went and took my two brothers.”

Dodd re­called how Belcher put her to work in the pri­mary de­part­ment at Ju­lia Porter United Methodist Church in Por­terdale.

“I have been work­ing in church ever since,” she added.

Born in 1918 in Ful­ton County, Dodd’s fam­ily lived in Por­terdale. Her mother died in child birth when she was six years old.

Dodd’s coun­te­nance glowed as she talked about grow­ing up in Por­terdale.

“My teacher en­cour­aged me and told me I could be a writer,” she said.

Dodd wrote an es­say on poet Sid­ney Lanier and won a trip to the moun­tains.

“My dad wouldn’t let me go,” she said re­gret­tably.

At age 15, Dodd went to work at the We­launee Mill. For the first two weeks, she worked 12-hour shifts un­til Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt changed the work day to eight hours. Dodd also worked at the Osprey and Por­terdale Mill run­ning win­ders and spool­ers.

In 1936, af­ter four dates, she mar­ried Clyde Dodd, the only boy she ever dated. Their son Richard, a fi­nan­cial man­ager, lives in Cov­ing­ton and their daugh­ter Donna lives in Cartersville.

Af­ter mov­ing to Cov­ing­ton, Dodd owned and op­er­ated Dodd’s Beauty Shop for 25 years and later worked as a clerk at Co­hen’s un­til her hus­band be­came ill.

Hold­ing a por­trait of five gen­er­a­tions, Dodd boasted to hav­ing three grand­chil­dren, Jean­nie, Denise and Alan; three great grand­chil­dren, El­iz­a­beth, Jen­nifer and Alex; and two great-great grand­chil­dren, Anna Lil­lie and Daniel.

Since at­tend­ing Love­Joy United Methodist Church in 1955, she has taught the Methodist Youth Fel­low­ship and the Young Adult class and two fu­ture preach­ers, Frankie Ber­nat and Terry Reed. Un­til re­cently, she taught the Se­nior Class ev­ery fourth Sun­day. Dodd has served on the church board, and held the po­si­tion of Com­mis­sioner of Mis- sions and Ed­u­ca­tion.

At 75 Dodd earned her GED in 1995. Gov­er­nor Zell Miller and Com­mis­sioner Ken­neth Bree­den pre­sented her with the GED Golden Ea­gle Award for be­ing aGED Re­cip­i­ent over the age of 70. Af­ter de­liv­er­ing the vale­dic­to­rian ad­dress, she stood on stage as young men from the 200 mem­ber class kissed her hand as they passed by.

Dodd at­tributes her youth­ful ap­pear­ance to stay­ing busy. Her hand­i­work of cro­cheted items and pots of thriv­ing vi­o­lets are vis­i­ble through­out her home. Dodd took pi­ano lessons for one year and bor­rowed a gui­tar and took lessons for six weeks. She ac­cu­rately por­trayed Min­nie Pearl in a play with the Se­nior Ser­vices at the New­ton County Re­cre­ation Com­mis­sion.

Dodd spoke about her first plane trip to Cuba when Cas­tro was com­ing into power. Her visit abruptly ended when Cas­tro told all the vis­i­tors to leave. Her

daugh­ter and son-in-law were sta­tioned there dur­ing the birth of her first grand­child. Dodd was in­spired to sub­mit an ar­ti­cle to the Read­ers Digest about her travel to Cuba, but it was re­turned.

Dodd has en­joyed trav­el­ing with friends to Europe, Mex­ico and on cruises. Be­cause of her love for his­tory, she longs to visit Egypt and see the pyra­mids.

When asked about the change she has seen in the fam­ily unit, Dodd replied, “Moth­ers are not like they used to be. We used to have our chil­dren in the bed at dark and we knew where they were all the time. We didn’t let them ride up and down the road.”

Dodd of­fers this ad­vice, “I would tell moth­ers to get up on Sun­day morn­ing and get her chil­dren in church — even if her hus­band wouldn’t go.”

Jenny Thompson/The Cov­ing­ton News

At home: Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent Lil­lie Mae Dodd re­flects with her bi­ble in her liv­ing room Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

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