Great Principles My Community Taught Me 60 Years Ago

I didn’t post Monday afternoon. My mother, Annette Barber, was diagnosed with cancer May 31. Hospice started services June 1. Mother died June 15. I returned to Sikeston to preach Sunday and returned to Centerville Monday. We’re making preparations for her funeral Thursday. My son, Jerrie Wayne, and his family have been preparing a month for surgery on his grandson, Connor, June 27: Connors Curves

Yesterday morning I ran through my home community of Shipps Bend in Centerville, Tennessee, where I lived from two years old until I left for college. There were floods of memories of people of this community.

Shipps Bend Memories During a Four-mile Run

J. T. and Louise Bates lived next to us. I went to their house Saturday mornings at 11:00 to watch the ventriloquist Paul Winchell and Jerry MaHoney and returned later at night for Live Studio Wrestling. We didn’t have a TV until I was in the eighth grade.

Ward and Idell Mayberry moved into that house after the Bates bought the first house Daddy built after he started building and selling houses. Ward was the preacher at Shipps Bend and asked me to preach my first sermon at age sixteen. His wife, Idell, typed the outline.

Joe and Jeanette Yates lived in the next house. They were Christians who set a good example and were encouraging.

Gene and Dottie McClearen lived in the next house. They went to the Shipps Bend church and were great neighbors and friends.

Robert and Christine Morrison and Mrs. Mernerva Chandler lived across the highway. They were special in my growing up. We bought milk, butter, and eggs from them. When I was sick, they brought home-made grape juice. Mrs. Chandler made enough grape juice for church communion all year. They had no children, but they loved me and taught me. Mrs. Chandler was my fishing buddy. I caught my first fish in their stock pond. I went to their house often. They listened to me talk about what was interesting to me. They let me gather eggs and crank the corn sheller. I often went to their house on Sunday morning to visit. Robert had a ritual every year right before Christmas:

Robert: “Did you hear Santa Clause isn’t coming this year?”
Me: “Yes he will.”
Robert: “No he isn’t. Somebody shot him and he’s not coming.”

After a few rounds of that conversation, we would agree to disagree. We enjoyed the argument and had an unwritten rule we’d do it again next year.

The Lennie D. Coble family lived down the next lane to the left going toward Coble. His wife, Alberta, and Mother were good friends. Mother took her first airplane ride in a biplane that landed in a field going to their house along with several others from the community.

Mr. J. B. Chessor ran a store half a mile from our house. He was one of the first to pay me for mowing a yard. I drank six soft drinks from his store during the afternoon, all different flavors. I made a dollar and they cost a nickel each. I made a profit.

Daddy built us a new house up the road to the left where Mr. Tomp McClannahan’s house had burned. We moved during the Christmas holidays of my senior year (1962-63) at Hickman County High School.

Mr. Will McClannahan lived across the road. Daddy worked for him for five years building houses before he went to work for Ralph and Jerry McClannahan where he worked for five years before he started his own business.

J. P. and Mazelle Herron ran a grocery store up the road from there a few hundred yards. They went to church with us as well as her dad and mom, Roy and Lee Blackwell, who lived in the next house.

Grady and Elise Chessor lived across the road from the Blackwells. She had the world’s record on the best white beans. George was one of my best friends. I was at their house often. Dottie McClearen was their daughter.

Lamar and Sally Chessor lived next door, a son to Grady and Elise. Sally and Judy Rogers visited Mother the last day she lived.

Jess and Becky McCord was the next house. Mrs. Becky gave ice cream sandwiches on Halloween.

Mr. Harlan and Net Chessor lived down the lane, turning left right after the McCord house. Harlan, along with his daughters, Reba, Georgia, and Patsy were the best singers at the Shipps Bend Church of Christ. Mr. Harland often asked me to “help” him lead singing. I didn’t have the equipment to do well singing, but standing up with Mr. Harland made my first sermon easier and the ones for the next fifty-seven years.

“Uncle” Jim Chessor (he was everybody’s uncle) stayed with them and often said during the announcements at church we ought to plant pine trees and try to get a highway road sign commemorating the Coble Pottery. The sign is there. I thought he must be kin to Abraham Lincoln because of his looks, his wisdom, and the respect everyone had for him. He wrote books, taught school, and let me help him with a garden one summer near Gene and Dottie’s house. At the end of the summer, I saw him coming down our lane in a wagon pulled by two mules. He stopped at our house and said, “Anybody who helped as much as you did deserves to be paid.” He gave me a tow-sack full of peanuts. It’s easy to remember Uncle Jim although I was only eight when he died. When people compliment me and give gifts to me, my memory improves.

Inez Chandler and her children lived at the dead end.

K. O. Edney’s family lived next door. His daughter, Glenda Jacobs, is the wife of the mayor of Centerville, Gary Jacobs.

Stan Martin and his family lived in the next house going up the road.

John and Alice Atkinson and family lived in the next house. Johnny was one of my good friends. I went to his house some afternoons to watch Superman. My first overnight campout was on the hill behind their house. Johnny, George, Stanton, William England, Jimmy Easley, and I camped out all night — on a school night. Mama came and checked on us a time or two. We were in elementary school. William’s brothers and another older boy or two came to scare us. We were ready. We took turns watching during the night. When they got close we shot at them with our BB guns. They ran. One of the boys got on the bus the next morning with a badly scratched eyelid. He ran into a barbed wire fence fleeing from the BB gun fire. It was the closest thing to a school shooting I experienced growing up. No one, even our parents, suggested taking away our BB guns.

Ollie Duncan and her brother lived in the next house.

The James Easley family lived in the next house. He taught Bible classes at Shipps Bend. He was kind and interested in his students. With his beard and mustache, I always thought he looked like Jesus. He’s still around at ninety years old, showing people how not to retire. He drives a tow truck and helps people when they get in a ditch. I’ve been told when you call him he says, “I’m ninety and I don’t do much of that anymore. Where do you need help? I’ll be there in a few minutes.” The person who told me said he was one of the best.

The church building is right up the road. My first years going to church at Shipps Bend were in the union building across the road. It was owned by the Baptists, Methodists, Nazarenes, and the Church of Christ. The Methodists and the Church of Christ were the only ones using it. The first six grades of school met upstairs. One year, the Methodists would meet in the morning and the Church of Christ conducted services at 1:00 p.m. At the beginning of the next year, we would swap schedules. When either planned special events (revivals or gospel meetings), the morning church would contact someone from the afternoon church and swap times for that week. When we had a yearly gospel meeting, we would have afternoon services during the week as well as night services. In the afternoon service, we would sing and have our opening prayer. During the song before the sermon, someone would go upstairs and knock on the door. The students came downstairs, listened to the sermon, then return to their classes.

Hellis and Vera Chessor, Jake and Elizabeth Chessor, Uncle Elsie and Aunt Mary Hatcher were others past the church building on the same road.

I thought of Edna McClannahan as I ran past her house yesterday morning. She died last year at nearly 100 years old. She and Mother were good friends. She loved teaching Sunday school. They had a big yard. I mowed it for her and Dick. When I finished, Dick asked me how much he owed me. I told him a dollar. He said, “I wouldn’t mow a yard this big for a dollar.” He thought he should treat others as he would like to be treated and gave me more.

Frank Atkinson (John and Alice’s son, Johnny’s brother) was the last house before the turnaround on my run. He was sheriff of Hickman County for decades. I’ve encouraged people to make a movie of his life. It would be as good as Walking Tall. Frank loved and served people. I don’t think he went to the funeral home every time someone was there to get reelected. He hasn’t been sheriff for decades and he continued to show his respect for the dead and his love for the living. He served in many other ways at Centerville Church of Christ and in the community.

Those are some reflections prompted by two miles out and back on Highway 50 in Shipps Bend yesterday morning.

What does this have to do with leadership?

One of the five principles of Family Systems is The Extended Family Field.

Principle 4 of Family Systems: Extended Family Field

Another post discusses the question, Do You Lead Like Your Daddy?

Do You Lead Like Your Daddy?

All the people I’ve mentioned and others encouraged, helped me, and shaped my life growing up.

Not everybody (none) in Shipps Bend-Centerville was perfect. All made unwise and sometimes wrong choices. But God gave us the ability to choose what we imitate and what to ignore or rebuke.

I’m thankful for many who taught and lived good principles during the fifties and sixties when I was growing up. Those who are dead are still talking to me and encouraging me by their interest in my life. They taught by word and action how to act and not act. Their kindness pointed me in the direction they were going. If I liked and was helped by what they were, this would be a good way to live my life.

Certainly among those were my parents. I’ll be thinking about them as we have Mother’s funeral Thursday. And I’m being encouraged by these good people and thousands more I’ve met during the fifty-five years since I’ve lived in Shipps Bend.

Who were your early leadership teachers?

(Visited 919 times, 58 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

20 Responses to “Great Principles My Community Taught Me 60 Years Ago

  • Courtney Fellers
    6 years ago

    What an interesting article of reflection. I am impressed by the descriptions of those whose lives impacted yours as I think back on my own early teachers and those who continue to teach me today. It is good to be reminded and a blessing to be able to remember. I am also encouraged to live in such a way that my influence on others will be remembered favorably. Thank you for sharing.

    • Jerrie Barber
      6 years ago


      You are on target. Memory and connections help us learn more.

      One of my teachers said, “People who never learn to learn from methaphores and parables miss so much in life.”

  • Gary Hampton
    6 years ago


    All those people helped show you the way to be a wonderful brother and worker in the kingdom. Though I knew none of them, I am thankful.

    Please know you are in my thoughts as you approach the funeral of your mother. I trust the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1) will give you just what you need. If I can be someone he uses to that end, please do not hesitate to call.

    Your brother,
    Gary C. Hampton

    • Jerrie Barber
      6 years ago


      Thank you for your concern.

      I have been preparing Mama’s funeral sermon for at least fifteen years, reading and revising quarterly.

      I look forward to sharing tomorrow the good things she taught and how she served God, others and me.

  • Randy Travis
    6 years ago

    Jerrie: I am sad to hear about Mrs. Annette. I was lucky enough to make friends with her in her later years. She reminded me of many in my own family. I am thankful and excited about the coming resurrection. What a grand reunion it will be. The message in this particular issue of the blog points out what I think are the unsung heroes of all of our lives; those extended family members and neighbors who by their words, examples, and even some of their mistakes taught us all so much. I just pray that I was given enough wisdom to recognize and learn from all of those “free” lessons.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      6 years ago


      I appreciate you and Donna interacting with and honoring Mother at Leadership Dynamics.

  • Robert Gribble
    6 years ago

    You have expressed your gratitude to others in this article. I know from hearing you talk about your mother, your love for her was great, and you always ensured that she was taken care of in a good manner. Our prayers are with you. May the memories you share at her services today bless you and those who gather to celebrate Ms. Barber’s life.

    • Jerrie Barber
      6 years ago


      Thank you for being a constant encourager. Your friendship is strenghtening. My prayers are with Glenda, you, and your family.

  • Mike Ryan
    6 years ago

    What a thoughtful and thought provoking article. It reminded me of so many folks in my little community of Mt. Pelia in West Tennessee where I grew up. Thanks for reminding me.

    Mike Ryan

  • Bill Walker
    6 years ago

    Jerrie, thanks for challenging us to look at our roots and those special connections that formed and shaped us. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family on this sad, but celebratory day. From your post I now know the ‘rest-of-the-story’ on Zeke. Blessings, as you continue to inspire and lead.

    • Jerrie Barber
      6 years ago


      Thank you.

      There always “the rest of the story.” It’s helpful to listen for a better understanding. Sometimes it years before we learn.

  • Ron Benvegna
    6 years ago

    What a great write up. We are sorry for the loss of your mother and will keep you in our prayers.
    Yes it takes a community to raise a child – unfortunately our neighborhoods are no longer family “communities” with everyone’s child is also “their child”. Many times now adults are afraid to interact with children as they may be improperly accused of something and the children have been taught to not speak to anyone that is a stranger. You have made me recall many of the people that lived in our community.

    • Jerrie Barber
      6 years ago


      Good to hear from you.

      I’m thankful many in Shipps Bend, and other places, follow Jesus’ values on children.

  • J. Larry Graham
    6 years ago

    We express heartfelt sympathy in the passing of your beloved mother. Your story of strolling back through your youth with remembrances of the impact for good that not only your parents made but also the impact for good that their friends and relatives taught and influenced your young life then and continues even today was certainly a refreshing nostalgia for me and I am sure many others. Each of us could go down memory lane and reflect on similar precious memories of our parents and those adults that influenced each of us and helped mold us into what we are today, that is and example of Godly behavior that benefits mankind and leads others to the Master. Yes, your story reminds us of how important it is for those of us that are older that we not only need and should show kindness, love, time and consideration to our kids and grandkids but we also are called to reach out to our friends and neighbors kids as they too need good caring teachable attributes exhibited toward them so as to make for a better world. Often it will be the little things that we are remembered by. Thanks Jerrie!

    J. Larry & Wanda Graham
    105 Shady Drive
    Hendersonville, TN 37075

    • Jerrie Barber
      6 years ago


      Thank you for your concern and comments.

      I have observed you being one of those people who values others.

  • Glen Rodgers
    6 years ago

    Jerrie, Tricia and I are in Seattle preparing to go on our first ever cruise. I am sorry that I could not be with you for your mom’s funeral service. During her visitation I read your blog. As you can imagine, it also took me down memory lane. Most of the names you mentioned are familiar to me, and many of them I knew very well. For example, when I was about 12 years old I was asked to prepare a brief sermon at church. I was concerned and reluctant, but Ward Mayberry told me that he would help me prepare it, and he did. My subject was Tomorrow. I still have those handwritten notes in my old Bible. Ward also took me on my first dove hunt. I know that he was a positive influence in the lives of many other young men. I am thankful that you and I have stayed connected over the years. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Cherish your memories.
    Glen Rodgers

    • Jerrie Barber
      6 years ago


      Thank you for your concern.

      I hope you have a great cruise.

      You and I have been blessed by others and each other for many years.

  • James Nelson
    4 years ago

    Brother Jerrie,
    I preached for a short time as a FHC student in 1968-69 for those good people. Your reflection on those people hit home with me. My wife and I cannot remember everyone you named as many had passed on to greater glory, but we remember Dick and Edna and Robert and Christine fondly. We stayed in their homes many Sundays and a few Sunday nights. They were special people. Thank you for reminding us.
    James and Wanda Nelson

    • Jerrie Barber
      4 years ago


      Thank you for replying. These people in this community continue to have a powerful impact on my life. They were family.

      I appreciate you letting me know your connection.

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