Advance Bids Farewell To Its Correspondent

Published 9:28 am Thursday, July 20, 2017

Advance folks gathered at the funeral home in a line that snaked around and about the building as they gathered to remember one of their own last month — Edith Zimmerman. She was five months short of her 100th birthday.

Our faithful and true “Advance News” columnist died June 17. We published her final column on May 11 in which she related the hiring of a new pastor at Elbaville United Methodist, the Shady Grove High Class of 1956 reunion, the visit by Pat Morgan of Tuckahoe, N.Y. and Janie Hendrix’s return from Idaho.

For 60 years she wrote for the newspaper about her favorite subject: Advance.

Modern technology didn’t flummox her. She emailed her column to us every week.

Edith Rebecca Shutt Zimmerman was Advance royalty with ties to two prominent families and traced her Shutt family church membership back five generations.

Her biographical pictures flashed on the funeral home’s TV set for mourners to watch as the line progressed. The photos revealed a woman who traveled far and wide and belonged to an expansive family. A very lively fourth generation tried to be as good as they could in a funeral home with lots of flowers and dressed up adults standing in a curious line.

Edith would have been proud.

Writing a column isn’t always the fun that was advertised when I started. Edith Zimmerman tackled the job for much longer and never seemed to run out of material.

Somebody is always visiting somebody in Advance. I attended church at Advance Methodist once and became subject material for her next column.

She was the community historian. Not much happened in Advance without her knowing about it. She knew everybody and loved her church.

Fittingly, that’s where she is now resting in the church cemetery among the neighbors, friends and relatives who often were included in her columns.

She made our newspaper better. Smarter and more modern publishers discarded “county correspondents” long ago. Luckily, I’m still a newspaper dinosaur. Our writers from Farmington, Cooleemee, Sheffield-Calahaln, County Line, Cana-Pino and Four Corners give the newspaper flavor and character not found in the court news or the police blotter.

Thank you, Edith Zimmerman.

• • • • •

Another old friend died recently. Floyd Franklin “Sonny” Foster, 86, of Cooleemee, died July 8.

Nearly every Wednesday morning for 30 years, I have sold him a newspaper outside the Cooleemee Post Office. He was there two weeks ago. Last week, his picture was on the obituary page to my dismay.

“We’re having a two-for-a-dollar special while supplies last,” I would say to him.

“Just one,” he would chuckle and reply and then recall the streaking exploits of my college career.

He noticed when I was on vacation. He recalled what I had written about the week prior. He was a newspaper’s best customer.

• • • • •

Finally, there was a third death that caught my attention — Clyde Hendricks, 91, the furniture retail giant who put Mocksville on the map during his heyday. My history professor at Western Carolina University learned that I was from Mocksville and bragged about saving lots of money by buying furniture from Hendricks. The store delivered high quality furniture nationwide before manufacturers changed their marketing tactics to dilute the store’s price advantage.

Cars with license plates from many states were often parked outside the Hendricks showroom. He was a tall, genial man who knew all about the furniture retail business.

— Dwight Sparks