Characters I Have Known: "Miss Gertie"

There are characters all around us. You know the type: folks that are unique and stand out…or make an impression on us for one reason or another. Pure gold for a writer! This will be first in a series that I’ll revisit every few weeks. 


Gertrude Temple was an elderly woman who lived in Hunt, Arkansas--a town in the Ozark foothills consisting of a church, a few homes, and not much else. I’d heard about “Miss Gertie” from my father--a college professor and ordained minister who would “supply pastor” occasionally at the Hunt Presbyterian church. One Sunday, he invited me to accompany him there. We were greeted by Miss Gertie, who was a thin, elderly woman with white hair. Sweet and welcoming, it was her job to unlock the church each Sunday. And afterward, she always invited the minister to her home for lunch. She’d been doing this for years.


After church, she led us to her tiny two-room home that had paint peeling off the clapboard exterior. Dad and I sat at her kitchen table--about half the space in the room--as she served us a delicious lunch of roast beef, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Miss Gertie didn’t eat with us, but hovered in the background making sure we had everything we needed. This was due to the fact that she had no teeth. The most she’d do was gnaw on a dinner roll. 


I only went that one time, but I’ve never forgotten this woman who gave such loving service to others. I later heard that a group of teachers and students from the college swooped in one Sunday morning while she was at church…and scraped and repainted the outside of her house. When she returned later with the visiting minister, she had the surprise of her life: a freshly painted house and a bunch of cheering people. What a gift for everyone involved! Over forty years later, I still get teary thinking about it.


Miss Gertie was a character who lives on in my memory. And in this case…my heart.


Who is a character you have known?






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