Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sad smile sweet friend

I really don't want my blog to turn into an obit page, but some people were so special to me that I can't help but want you to know them through me.  This past week I said goodbye to my closest childhood friend, Wayne Carter Gulledge, attorney of Flowood.  Here are some of the remarks I made at his memorial service.

Thanks to a special friendship between my parents, Hayley and Marjorie Dandridge and Bill and Elizabeth Gulledge, Wayne was my constant companion from the time of my birth, exactly three months after his, until our high school paths took us in different directions.  But we have stayed in touch via email and letters ever since.
I want to tell you some of the things about Wayne that made him special to me. 
Sketch of Gulledge in his law school days. 

You see, I became an organ donor for Wayne at the age of 6…not in the ordinary sense of the word.  The night before I went to Oxford to have my tonsils removed, he called and asked my mother to save my tonsils for him if, “They were an acceptable specimen.”  I guess they were. We brought them home in a jar.  For the next few years when we started science in school, he would bring them in proudly and plop them on the teacher’s desk, much to her horror, and say, “These are Nancy’s tonsils.”

They eventually decomposed and lost their shock effect. When I had my appendix removed the next year he made the same request.  My appendix must have not looked too good, because the doctor said NO.

We had so many wonderful childhood adventures.  I was a typical giggly girl and Wayne was always beyond-his-years-smart.  When we toured the Wonder Bread factory in Memphis, I ate the center out of my bread before we got home and his was preserved in pristine shape until mold set in. 

Christmas at the Gulledges' with Bill Gulledge
I always got great Christmas presents, but Wayne’s were super-great and I couldn’t wait every Christmas to go over and see what he got….a robot, additions to his full-size train city in the basement, loads of fireworks. I was scared to go in his room because he delighted in my horror of his pet tarantula spider, various toads, and even a pet snake. But Wayne was an avid animal lover of the more normal variety of pets from childhood to the present.  From the collie of his boyhood days to the many cats over the years, animals were a vital part of his life.

He even found more delight in my horror of his hero, The Monster of Ceremonies SIVAD, host of Fantastic Features. He would call when it came on and make me watch it with him over the telephone and when it got creepy I would hang up.  When SIVAD himself made a live appearance at the then-Gloria Theatre, he had SIVAD sign his arm and refused to wash it for days.

He was an interesting boy who could spend hours looking through gravel for fossils; would go through piles of coins, hoping for a rare find; and he amazed me that he could place a magnifying glass just so and start a fire which he did when we camped once at his family’s farm property. My fires never lit.

When I did my girly giggle or got over-excited about one of our adventures, he would look at me over his glasses and tell me not to “get overjoyed” or to “compose myself.”

What I really want you to know about Wayne Gulledge is that he was ridiculously-intelligent, a sweet soul, funny, witty, serious, well-read, firm in his beliefs and a true eccentric.  When I sent him the name of a fiction author I was reading this summer, he informed me that he was reading non-fiction these days…accounts of religious relic research……outsmarted again.

I checked Wayne’s Facebook page last night and found many remarks from his friends in Jackson, many he had counseled through their own dark times.

So it is with a sad smile that I remember my friend, no more tears, you know he would tell me to “compose myself.”

My favorite pic, from the Tom Thumb wedding.
We were groomsman and bridesmaid.
Not sure he was sold on all
this pageantry.

Wayne C. Gulledge, 59 of Flowood and Senatobia, attended Senatobia City School, Harding Academy and Memphis University School where he graduated with honors.
Gulledge graduated with honors from Davidson College where he majored in pre-med.  He completed his Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1979.
While living in Flowood, he was an active supporter of Alcoholics Anonymous at the Jackson Chapter where served as mentor and counselor.
An avid animal lover, he supported MARL (Mississippi Animal Rescue League) in Jackson.
His parents, William Ralph Gulledge and Elizabeth Carter Gulledge, long-time Senatobia residents, preceded him in death. Survivors include his sister Anne Gulledge Boling (Charles) of Senatobia; a brother William Ralph Gulledge Jr. (Liz) of Springdale, Utah;
Nephew Jeff McGee of Senatobia; nieces Suzanne McGee Creekmore (Robert) of Senatobia; and Ashley Gulledge Franzen (Doug) of Seattle, Wash.; and several great-nephews and many friends.
Gulledge was a member of the church of Christ. A memorial service was held at the Senatobia church of Christ Nov. 6 and another service will be held in Jackson Nov. 15 at the Raymond Road AA. 
The family requests that memorials be made to the Senatobia-Tate County Animal Shelter.

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