Who’s going to fill her shoes?

Published 8:39 am Monday, December 28, 2009

She never met a stranger, just friends not yet made. Mary Wallace had an out-sized personality and a hearty laugh that was matched by a big, generous heart. She loved her community of Georgiana and its most famous native son, Hank Williams, Sr.

As Georgiana mayor Mike Middleton said, “Mary lived and breathed Hank Williams.”

She had a phenomenal knowledge of all things Hank, knowledge she was happy to share with those who came to visit Hank’s childhood hometown. She co-founded the Hank Williams International Fan Club and was an integral part of the festival held annually in June.

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You’d see Mary greeting guests and serving food at the fan club picnic, on stage welcoming performers at the concert at the Ga-Ana, and hawking raffle tickets while sporting one of her many Hank t-shirts at Hank Williams Park.

She had amazing energy and unflagging enthusiasm. Mary and the fan club board of directors were determined to give back to the community through events such as Octoberfest, the Christmas open house, and participation in both the McKenzie and Georgiana Christmas parades this December.

Mary also served as the site manager for the Georgiana Nutrition Center. Each weekday, she spent time with the senior citizens of the community, serving more than just a hot meal. She gave them love, attention and encouragement, took them on trips, celebrated the holidays with them. It was obviously more than “just a job” for Mary.

She had been through some tough times in recent years, dealing with the loss of her husband and the tragic death of a grandson in a car accident. Still, Mary persevered. She was that kind of a woman.

Just a few short weeks ago, the citizens of south Butler County saw Mary dressed as Mrs. Claus, helping toss hundreds of stuffed animals to children along two parade routes. She epitomized the true spirit of the holiday, a holiday that will shine a little less brightly without her this year.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, December 23 at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Georgiana.

She will be sorely missed.