Ann Smith Winningham
Everyone was shocked to hear the news. No one expected this. After all, just having a lengthy case of bronchitis that didnít want to go away surely wouldnít mean something more was wrong. But the diagnosis was bad. It was lung cancer, the type a heavy smoker most often has. But Ann never smoked in her life, nor did her husband, or any other close family members she had contact with. It just couldnít be true. But sadly, it was, and after only receiving the bad news the last of July of 2006, by December 26 the same year, Ann died suddenly at her home.
Annís name given at birth was Patricia Ann Smith. She was married to Hosea Winningham, who served in city government for the town of Livingston a total of 36 years, 26 of those years as Mayor. Ann and I go back to grade school days. I am from August to September older than her. I have some memories I want to share about my friendship with Ann.
I suppose the very first thing that comes to my mind about Ann is the fact that she was an immaculate housekeeper. Their home was beyond being spotless. She took a lot of pride in maintaining a very neat and orderly home. It was very rare to ever go there and find anything out of place. It was that way even a few days before her death.
Looking back on the days when we were in grade school, I remember one of Annís first boyfriends. We were probably in the sixth or seventh grade. Going to the Ritz Theater on Saturdays was something most kids around town did, and it was there Ann met a boy who lived in Celina named Eddie McClain. They would often sit together at the Ritz. Thatís about all I remember about him ... just his name and the fact that they sat together sometimes on Saturday afternoons at the Ritz.
Our teacher in the seventh grade was Raymond Moody. At our lunchtime recess, one of our very favorite things to do was to dance. The year was 1957. Our fellow classmate, Jimmy Long, son of Mr. and Mrs. R.J. Long, would bring his record player to school, along with all the latest records, and we would have a Bee Bop session everyday at lunchtime. Everybody watched the Five OíClock Hop on Channel 4 every afternoon after school, or tuned in to American Bandstand with Dick Clark, to learn all the dance steps, and then we practiced them during our lunchtime recess. Ann and I would often be partners. The boys in our class didnít dance at these lunchtime sessions, but instead, they preferred listening to the music. Then later in high school, we would dance to the music from the jute box at Winningham Drugs during our lunch hour.
After graduation from high school, Ann got a job at the local shirt factory. She worked there for a number of years. Unlike most of the girls in our class, she didnít get married right after graduation from high school. She took her time finding just the right fellow to spend the rest of her life with, and that turned out to Hosea Winningham. They made the perfect couple. Ann and Hosea were alike in a lot of ways, especially when it came to taking the best of care of anything they owned. Finding the inside, or the outside for that matter, of their vehicles with a speck of dust or dirt would never happen. They worked side by side to maintain the inside as well as the outside of their home, and always kept everything in tip top condition. Iíve always heard it said that you could tell what kind of housekeepers people are by the way their yards are maintained, and thatís definitely true about Ann and Hosea. Attending church together was something both Ann and Hosea always included in their lives. They were active members of Memorial Baptist Church in Livingston for many years. As time went along, their family grew to include two daughters, Angela and Amy. With the addition of children into their lives, Ann became a full time wife, mother, and homemaker.
When Annís mother, Mrs. Ethel Smith, suffered a stroke that left her semi-paralyzed and unable to communicate, it was necessary that her family place her in the local nursing home. Annís father had passed away when she was only 12 years old. Mrs. Smith lived at the nursing home for several years, and all the while she was there, Ann devoted a good deal of her time to taking the best of care of her mother. She was often there more than once a day. She became well acquainted with most of the staff as well as many of the residents there too. Whatever Ann felt her mother needed while in the nursing home, she did her best to provide for her. She was always totally devoted to her mother.
Having a husband who served as the mayor of Livingston for 26 years was not something that changed Ann from the type of person I knew in school. She was never interested in being in the social circles often associated with people in politics. While she was very proud of her hard working mayor husband, she much preferred to quietly remain in the background. When it was time for Hosea to run again for office, Ann and both daughters worked very hard throughout the many campaigns held in all those years Hosea served in city government. It was nothing unusual to see their sunburned faces following a long, hot day in the summer sun handing out cards at one of the voting precincts.
Upon her return home from her last hospital stay, Ann was surprised with a visit from four of her old classmates. These friends arrived just minutes after she got home from the Cookeville hospital. It was a visit of much laughter and reminiscing about old times. And if that old saying is true, laughter is the best medicine, everyone there had a good dose of it. A return visit was promised by the group, but that wasnít to be. Ann died just four days later.
Ann will be greatly missed by her family and friends. But probably saddest of all is the fact that her two grandchildren, Zachary Young and Callie Lowery, will grow up not having known their grandmother. But her memory will be shared with them by their mothers, Angela and Amy. Theyíll see to it that even though Ann may not be physically present, her love for those two little ones will continue on.
Thank you, Ann, for everything, but most of all, for always being just you. Your memory will always be with us.