“If it wasn’t for her.”
That’s how many long-time residents of Murray County begin when talking about Linda Lunsford. Asked about the 30-year Murray County High School teacher (she graduated from the high school as well), former students said they were “lucky” to have Lunsford for English literature or Bible literature.
It’s little wonder then why several former students are rallying around the retired school teacher as she recovers from a kidney transplant she underwent on Aug. 30.
A group of former students and others have set aside Saturday, Oct. 5, to raise funds to help Lunsford pay medical expenses. Sole Commissioner Brittany Pittman is officially naming that day “Linda Lunsford Day.”
“She is a sweet, kind lady,” said Tammy Gold, who is helping organize the event. “She is a fine Christian woman who is very vocal about correct English. She never married and didn’t have children so she treated all her students as her children.”
Gold said the event, which will take place at the old recreation center on Chestnut Street in Chatsworth, will feature a bake sale, live music, entertainers and raffles. It will begin at 10 a.m. with a 2-mile run and walk around the nearby “loop” and will last about two or three hours.
The primary medical cost facing Lunsford, Gold said, is anti-rejection medication administered to ensure Lunsford’s body doesn’t reject her new kidney.
“It can cost about $30,000 a year,” Gold said. “The first couple of years, some insurance should cover it, but after awhile it won’t. She has to pay out of pocket a lot for the treatment.”
Murray County residents want to give back to Lunsford, Gold said, because “she has done a lot for us and the county and her students.”
One of those students is Bagley Middle School teacher Tim Howard, who says he is retiring at the end of the school year after 32 years of teaching. Howard was picked as the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) student of Murray County High School in 1978 and named Lunsford his STAR teacher.
The STAR program is part of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, a statewide organization with 84,000 members that selects students from each school district who have the highest SAT score from a single testing period and are in the top 10 percent of their class based on grade point average.
“If it wasn’t for her,” Howard said, “I wouldn’t have become a teacher. She helped start a program called Scholars Bowl where students would answer academic questions. Part of the competition was us going to Berry College and while there I got a scholarship. That’s how I went to Berry and became a teacher.”
If it hadn’t been for Lunsford, Pittman, who had Lunsford for 11th grade English literature, said several “students who are now adults” wouldn’t be who they are today.
“She continually went above and beyond the call of duty to encourage even the most unambitious,” Pittman said. “She is just truly a ball of joy. She got to know her students inside and outside the classroom and always showed personal interest in them.”
“I had Ms. Lunsford for Bible literature, which was — at the time — an elective you could take,” she said. “She treated all her students like her own children. I remember her singing. She sang for several years. I remember hearing her sing in church services. She’s just a wonderful lady who needs our support right now.”
Gold said the event still needs food and craft vendors and volunteers to help with the run and walk. For more information or to get in contact with event organizers, Gold said people can visit the “Love for Linda Lunsford” Facebook page (tinyurl.com/LoveForLunsford) or call Gold at (706) 537-1150.
Gold said anyone who wants to help pay for Lunsford’s treatment 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.
Murray rallies around 30-year educator post-surgery
“If it wasn’t for her.”
- Murray County
Suspects sought in Murray home invasion
The Murray County Sheriff’s Office is looking for two men suspected of a home invasion early Friday morning.
Wife’s memory inspires Chatsworth man’s lottery win
A Chatsworth man who won a $77,922 jackpot prize from the Feb. 25 Fantasy 5 drawing said the winning numbers were of significance to him because they were in memory of his wife.
- Agenda for Tuesday's Murray County sole commissioner meeting
He maintained his innocence
Robert Glenn Ward was to be released from an eight-month stay in jail Thursday afternoon after a Murray County jury found him not guilty of two counts of child molestation that involved allegations concerning pre-teen girls.
New chief in town
CHATSWORTH — Josh Etheridge’s desire to work in law enforcement was simmering inside him before he graduated from Murray County High School in 2000.
Who was Ryan Shane Neale?
Ryan Shane Neale’s heart beat inside him for the last time Saturday night, but a part of him continues to live on.
Man arrested after shots fired outside Chili's
Dalton police arrested a Chatsworth man late Saturday night after he pulled a gun and fired two shots into the air in the parking lot of Chili’s restaurant off College Drive.
Whitfield, Murray County public schools closed Friday (Updated 4:35 p.m.)
Whitfield County Schools and Murray County Schools will remain closed on Friday, officials said.
NGEMC update (4 p.m.)
Approximately 8,000 North Georgia EMC members do not have power as of 4 p.m.
Crews readied for freezing, ice
As temperatures rose slightly above freezing for much of the day Wednesday, emergency management officials had additional responders — including the National Guard — ready to go in case conditions worsened overnight and into the week.
- More Murray County Headlines
- Suspects sought in Murray home invasion