The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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RC Hero-Genevieve Wilson's extraordinary life
In Sept. 27 Issue
Russell County News

Dear Editor,

Could you please run the following piece by my daughter, Chasidi Smith, written about her grandmother. I was hoping you might could use it as one of your local hero pieces. Thanks for your consideration.

Melissa Wilson

I’ve often told people that growing up in Russell County with Genevieve Wilson for a grandmother made me feel like somewhat of a celebrity. I could scarcely go to run an errand without someone asking me about her - often times mistaking me for my mother in the process, but I learned to laugh about that and telling me stories about her art class. And, it never failed that every year on the first day of school that my teachers would recognize me and ask me the familiar “Aren’t you Genevieve’s granddaughter?” Of course, I would reply that I was indeed her granddaughter, and they would respond with fond sentiments of working with her or even having my gram as a favorite teacher.

I’ve found that most people find it hard not to smile when they think of my gram. She has been a dear friend, teacher and mentor to so many people throughout the years - in addition to being a wife, mother and grandmother. She married my grandfather when she was only sixteen years old and together they raised five children Keith, David, Teresa, Kenny and Melissa. While in her thirties, she somehow managed to balance the demands of being a wife and mother of five with those of a college student as she attended and became a graduate of Campbellsville College. Subsequently, she began teaching art immediately following her graduation. Teaching art wasn’t just a job for gram, it was a passion. I really couldn’t begin to recount the stories I’ve heard from hours spent in that classroom, all of which she told me with tremendous pride and obvious love.

In 1986, after several years of teaching, gram was in a career- ending car accident. I doubt that I could find the words to tell you how difficult it was for her to give up teaching and how much she missed it. As she recovered, she continued her artwork and soon found her folk-style art to be quite popular. She has won many competitions and awards for her unique and nostalgic technique that is reminiscent of times past; her pieces have been featured been featured in local, state and national venues. The Morehead University Folk Art Center has sold Genevieve Wilson originals all across the country, and today they can be found in various homes and offices from coast to coast, including those of university presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and many others untold.

Throughout her blooming success, she never stopped being my gram. It was very common for her to volunteer to help out with school projects or extra-curricular activities, and she would do just about anything to help us to be better learners. I can still picture her dressed as a gypsy, reading palms for our RSES Fall Festival or wearing a shawl and old fashioned dress on the float she personally designed and painted for the Christmas parade. She taught me shapes and cooking by making pancake animals for me and my brother and she would tell us made-up stories every night, always featuring us as the main characters and leaving us begging to hear it again.

I don’t think that, at that young age, I ever truly appreciated what a treasure she has been. As I’ve grown older, I now see her influence in my life every day. She had a big role in raising me and I am more thankful for that than anyone could possibly know. She inspired in me a love for reading, learning, and creativity as well as teaching me to be a practical and independent person. I imagine that, in many ways, she inspired the same things in me that she sought to inspire in her students because, as they say, you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t make them stop teaching.

In January this year, gram was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood, and despite undergoing intensive treatments and therapies, it does not appear to be a winning battle for her. Although her time with us is growing shorter, her impact on both our family and our community will endure far beyond her years as we carry both the lessons she has taught us, and the memories that she has shared with us, on to generations to come.

As I have watched her illness progress, I can say without a doubt that her greatest comfort and joy comes from being surrounded by those that she loves and reminiscing about the times she has spent with them. I would like to invite anyone that feels the need to contact her to do so either by mail or e-mail. Any cards or notes are welcomed at the following address:

Genevieve Wilson

P.O. Box 145

Corinth, KY 41010

Please direct any emails to the    following e-mail address:

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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