Dot (Dorothy) was born March 12, 1935, in Westmorland, Tennessee, which has a history richly tied to the railroad and agriculture. Dot, the oldest, was raised with a younger brother and sister. Dot, her siblings, and cousins lived with her grandparents and worked on the farm. Her grandparents had a fruit orchard filled with peaches, apples, cherries, and more! They picked fruit, helped can them, and stored the canned goods in their underground cellar.
Once Dot finished high school, she attended East Carolina University and later, The University of South Georgia, where she earned a master’s degree in Education. She was only 19 years old when she met and married her husband, Jim, who was in seminary school at Wake Forest University.
Dot and Jim had five children – four sons and one daughter. Four of her children are still living, and they are spread out into Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida. Dot’s brother and sister also live in Florida.
Jim and Dot were missionaries who lived overseas in Ghana, Africa, for 19 years. They started a church in their living room with only two people! The church they founded is still operating in Ghana, celebrating its 50th anniversary with a congregation of about 1,500. Their youngest son was only 18 months old when they moved to Africa with their family of seven. The people of Africa were amazingly kind and generous, and even though the African government was run like a dictatorship, Dot said they never felt threatened or unsafe. Food was scarce, and they had to grow whatever they needed. Even with little food available, the native people always shared with them.
A funny story Dot remembers about the people of Africa is how fascinated they were with her baby boy. He had red hair, light skin, and fuzzy red hair on his arms. They loved to touch him and rub his arms. Although he didn’t like it at first and would scream his head off, he later got used to it.
Dot got very sick while living in Africa; she came down with malaria and yellow fever and had to be sent back to the United States for treatment. Her husband had to care for their five children while she was gone. He took them all to the beach one day; the beaches in Africa are not like ours here in the U.S. The beaches are quiet and deserted, often with no one else around. While the two youngest boys (seven and eight years old at the time) were wading in the water, a riptide came and pulled them out to sea. Jim was not healthy at the time and, although he tried to reach them, he was unable to. All he could do was pray that his boys would be brought out of the riptide safely. Just as he thought he would die, a strong arm plucked him out of the water and brought him to the sand. The boys were also swept out of the water. The family named this man who saved them “Angel.” Jim and Dot went on to see Angel accept the Lord into his life, and Angel is still in contact with Dot today.
Dot was fortunate to have traveled through many European countries. As she aged and needed a little extra help, she moved to Georgia to be near her youngest son and his family. She feels she has led a blessed life.
We want to thank Dot for sharing her story with us, and we are so fortunate to have her as part of our Oaks Senior Living family!