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Murray County

October 6, 2013

Love pours out for Lunsford

CHATSWORTH — More than a decade after retirement, Linda Lunsford still teaches, her former students say.

She teaches through her Facebook account where she corrects others’ posts for grammar and punctuation errors — but she does it in a caring way, the guilty are quick to add.

Plus, her lessons live on. They live on in the minds of students who still hear Emily Dickinson’s poems to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” just as the retired Murray County High School English teacher used to sing them in class. They live on as her past pupils recall having to memorize a numbered list of rules on when to use commas in sentences — and on Saturday at the recreation complex, they lived on as visitors and former students came by for half a day of wrestling, bake sales, a reptile show, bluegrass music, a raffle auction and assorted attractions that ended up raising $2,500 for the former teacher’s benefit.

In late September, Congressman Tom Graves declared Oct. 5, 2013, Linda Lunsford Day in a proclamation from the floor of the United States House of Representatives, while Sole Commissioner Brittany Pittman declared the day in Lunsford’s honor for Murray County Saturday morning.

Organizer Misty Watson-Wheeler said the weekend event helped raise money to cover the cost of care for Lunsford who underwent a kidney transplant earlier this year. Supporters have raised about $25,000 for her so far this year, Watson-Wheeler said, and are still seeking donations.

While the Georgia Transplant Foundation is matching a portion of her expenses, the anti-rejection medication Lunsford could have to take indefinitely can run up to $30,000 a year, organizers said. Lunsford’s transplant went well, but she’s suffered from some additional health problems and was in Piedmont Atlanta Hospital for some time for physical therapy. A family member said Lunsford is expected to come home within a few days.

Anyone who wants to contribute to Lunsford’s expenses can make a check out to the “Linda Lunsford Kidney Fund,” put Linda Lunsford in the “for” or memo line and mail it to Linda Lunsford Kidney Fund, Bagley Middle School, 4600 Highway 225 N., Chatsworth, GA 30705, adding “ATTN: Toby Westmoreland” on the envelope.

Tammy Gold, one of the organizers for Saturday’s event, had a Bible literature elective class taught by Lunsford years ago.

“She was just fun,” Gold said. “She brought the pages to life. She had such a heart for students and teaching.”

In addition to teaching, Lunsford was involved in many extracurricular activities at the school, including drama, Scholars Bowl, yearbook, cheerleading and the student newspaper. Three times, she was named a STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) teacher. The honor goes to a teacher selected by the senior with the school’s highest SAT score on a certain date during the year. Lunsford’s fellow teachers twice named her a teacher of the year.

Outside of school, Lunsford was a part of the gospel singing group, the Happy Pilgrims, for many years. Allen Ash of Wildlife Ministry, The Outdoors Cafe, said he’s known Lunsford his whole life and described her as a “wonderful piano player and singer” at Mountain View Baptist Church in Chatsworth where they both attend.

Organizers said they’re thankful for everyone who helped with the event.

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