Gladys Marie (Hamsley) Cook (September 26, 1922 – February 26, 2021)
98 years and she was cutting a rug with friends and family all along the way!
From her obituary (written by my Mom):
Gladys was born September 26, 1922, in Springfield to the late William and Nellie Henderson Hamsley. She was a graduate of Barren Plains High School class of 1937. Gladys was a member of Springfield Baptist Church. In the mid-forties Gladys worked at AVCO building airplanes, a real Rosie the Riveter! She later worked in several sales and clerical positions including the City of Springfield before finding her true passion for interior design. She became a Certified Interior Designer and worked at Ethan Allan and Suddarth Furniture Companies. She retired from a clerical position with the State of Tennessee. Gladys was a property flipper before it was fashionable. She built and rehabbed countless properties in her lifetime using her keen eye, sewing skills, and hard work to always make “the next one better than the last”. Gladys was an avid dancer and a regular at the Senior Citizen Center on Friday nights. She could also regularly be found at the Thursday Coffee Club at Hardee’s and most days would be having her child’s plate of vegetables at Larry’s.
As a young child, I remember her taking me along one day and we went to eat and to see a movie at Rivergate. Looking back, I’m positive I was not at all near the age required to be at that movie (in the late 70s). I remember it had bars, snakes, bathroom stalls, and riots of some kind. These are the only images I remember from the entire movie (I had no clue what it was about). This wasn’t a Disney movie. Regardless, Nana seemed to enjoy it. I’ve never been able to figure out what the title of it was because I’ve always wanted to watch it again. I was going to fuss at Nana for exposing my young mind to this rubbish. Or maybe thank her, for introducing me to edgy films. Perhaps she ingrained in me a love of fine cinema.
I remember we rode in the brown, two-door 1976 Buick Skylark. I didn’t realize the importance of that car at the time. Later in my life, when I turned 16 Nana still had that car. She had kept it in fairly immaculate condition. I needed a car to get me to school activities and my after-school job. I needed it to be affordable and to pay cash. Nana sold me that car for $500 in 1988. I made a down payment and she let me work to make a final payment. I cruised many miles in that car throughout high school and it even took me on to college. I’d wash it almost every Sunday (while in high school) and would spend many Sunday afternoons waxing on and waxing off. My friend and I would tinker with our stereo systems. The huge trunk was perfect at producing huge BASS! This was a highly coveted feature for the young males in Springfield, TN. I’d also spend plenty of time watching my grandfather, uncle, and father working on the engine, fixing some issue with the ‘high quality’ late 70s American motorcar. Some of these problems would be self-induced (who needs antifreeze anyway)?!? When I sold the car to buy ‘the worst car buying decision of my life’ it went on to another high schooler who was starting their life too. There is no telling where it is today. A lot of lessons in that car transaction with Nana have stuck with me to this day.
Nana was always on the go. She always seemed to be out and about dancing, going on trips, meeting friends and family to go explore something somewhere. I always try to look for things in people that are important to them that I can emulate in my own life. This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from watching Nana in my life. Get out there and get after it. If you are not happy in your situation…do something to improve it. Rinse, repeat. This woman was not afraid to make big changes. She made many big changes in her life over the years. If you look at a list of ‘big life-changing decisions’ I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone, personally, who made as many in their life as Nana did. She set her mind on what she wanted next and then did it…successfully! I try to incorporate that spirit into my life each day. So far, I think she might have been onto something!
Nana made it to 98. She was my last grandparent who was alive when she died. I was fortunate to have awesome grandparents in my life who loved me and taught me many lessons in the way they lived their lives. These lessons help me remember them regularly when I catch myself doing something they might do.