Bethea woman for all times
Published 5:46 am Sunday, February 15, 2009
The town of Flomaton and all of Escambia County lost a dear friend and dedicated citizen on Feb. 5 in the death of Mrs. Voncile Bethea. Ms. Voncile, as most of us knew her, was a lifelong resident of Flomaton and was the wife of Alton Ray Bethea. They worked together for over 30 years in the family business, the Flomaton Gravel Company.
I am privileged to have seen Ms. Voncile through the eyes of a child, a teenager, a young adult as well as an adult. She and her family have been a part of my life, literally, for most of my life. When I think back over the times of our lives, my memories of the entire family are of happy times at the beach, trips to Mobile and Pensacola shopping and eating out, graduations, departures to schools for further education, weddings, babies being born, and of sad times, illness and loss, but through it all, Ms. Voncile was always there to love and to support her family. Her love of family was one of her strongest characteristics. She had many characteristics that made her stand tall among all others. I would like to share only a few which I observed.
Her commitment to her community was demonstrated in so many ways. One of the landmarks of her legacy here in Flomaton can be observed at the beautiful Turtle Point Science Center on U.S. 31 South. The dedicated efforts of Ms. Voncile and others resulted in the gorgeous award winning science educational center which is now a part of the county educational system and children from this county and surrounding counties visit daily to learn in this treasured center. She and her family donated the land for this facility as well as the walking trail and park surrounding it. I, like many of you, were privileged to be present with Ms. Voncile and her family when she did the ribbon cutting of this center in 1999. Since the center opened, there have been more than 5,000 students visit for educational experiences.
The love that she had for the Flomaton United Methodist Church was surpassed only by her love for her Savior, Jesus Christ. She served the church well for her entire lifetime. She was an avid supporter of all church activites. She was the chairperson of the administrative board for many years as well as the president of the United Methodist Women.
She was a founding member of the Pioneer Garden Club and led the efforts of the club in many beautification efforts for the town. She was also a faithful friend of the Flomaton Library and served on the board of directors for many years.
She was recognized for her leadership in our town in 1998 by the Flomaton Chamber of Commerce by being named the Flomaton Citizen of the Year. What a joy it was to see her surprise when her name was called. I never could figure how her entire family could show up for that from various corners of the state and keep it a secret from her.
Her love for the outdoors was recognized by all who knew her. She loved her early morning walks at the park and growing blueberries and flowers. She could make one of the best pound cakes in Flomaton, the absolute best pimento cheese spread east of the Mississippi and cornbread dressing that would melt in your mouth. She taught us all how to cook canned green beans that tasted like they were fresh.
Ms. Voncile, as I always knew her, was a woman for all times and seasons. She definitely left the world a better place for having lived.
Ruth Harrell is a Flomaton resident.