With A Pudding, Betty Gunter Closes Her Store
Betty Gunter balanced a plate of persimmon pudding on her lap last Wednesday and doled out slices to customers who made one last visit to Gunter’s Country Store at Redland Road and N.C. 801.
At the end of the day, she closed the vital community store her family had operated for more than 33 years.
At its peak, a customer walked in the door every two minutes. They counted.
Betty, 76, is a wisp of a woman now, stooped and diminished by health problems and advancing years. She walks gingerly with a cane. Her boys, Keith and Jon, have helped immeasurably over the years, balancing store work with their other jobs. Her visits to the store had become more and more uncommon in the past year.
Keith manned the cash register last week as Betty distributed the persimmon pudding from a corner chair.
With her cane, she had walked across the road at her home to a persimmon tree dropping its fruit. She stooped to pick up the persimmons and stored them in a box before realizing her dilemma.
She was too weak to make it back to the house.
“I had to call Keith to come get me. I couldn’t carry the persimmons with my cane.”
I’ve eaten a lot of persimmon pudding, none better than hers, especially considering the love and effort that went into those juicy bites.
Betty has faced many difficulties over the years, but none so grave as the death of her beloved and affable husband Wiley in 1985. They had opened the store together. He was the merchant. He was the one who had kept everything in order.
In her grief, Betty realized she had no choice but to keep going. The boys were teens then. She had to keep on keeping on.
“Sometimes you have to do what you don’t want to do.”
Just as the Gunters embraced the community, the people of northeastern Davie County hugged them back.
Gunter’s Country Store has been a hopping place. Even Santa Claus has come every December to visit boys and girls to take their Christmas orders.
Where will Santa go now?
A lot of memories have been made at that store. The walls were stripped of the newspaper clippings, the picture of Wiley and the odds and ends that had been posted proudly there for all to see. They’ve gone home with Betty.
“We’ve had some good faithful customers. I hate to let them down,” she said from home. “They have supported me in many ways, and I appreciate it.”
She hasn’t let anybody down.
Monday evening she was washing some more persimmons, getting ready to make more pudding.
She is quite a woman …