Mary is counting on us to keep festival going

Published 9:11 am Thursday, April 15, 2010

She really would have loved it. So many people who knew her were there: singers and songwriters, fan club members, family and friends.

Mary Joyce Wallace was one of those dynamos who got things done. “A sort of Energizer Bunny,” is how one friend described her, this lively lady with her cap of soft white curls, sparkling crystal blue eyes and ready smile.

Whether it was getting her seniors from the Nutrition Center to Greenville for the annual picnic (and making sure they had the funny headgear to sport for the day), or organizing fan club activities during the Hank Festival, or reluctantly climbing into a Mrs. Santa costume (and then wowing everyone who saw her that day) for the Christmas parade last year; Mary always had something going on.

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And she always seemed to have a good time doing it.

She once said, “Well, I just decide in advance I am going to enjoy myself before I get started, and so I do.”

Mary had a positive spirit and that special quality the French call “joi de vivre.” She had that joy in life.

Saturday’s memorial tribute seemed so fitting.

There was sadness, certainly.

Tears streamed down cheeks, and there was liberal use of handkerchiefs and tissues.

Seeing the photos of her, hearing her voice as she applauded the genius of Butler County’s native son in an audio snippet, bittersweet memories came flooding back.

But there was also laughter, a fitting elegy for a woman who loved to laugh long and loud, and there was lots of good music, the kind Mary would have tapped her foot and nodded her head and sang along to.

“Look alive now, people,” she would cajole the seniors at the nutrition center.

I suspect she was looking down last Saturday and saying, “Well, now, isn’t this nice! But look alive, folks. There’s another Hank Fest coming up and there’s a lot to do . . . I’m counting on you.”

Sherri Brackin and John Wise, the VP and president of the Hank Williams International Fan Club, definitely have big shoes to fill. But they are ready and willing. And maybe we can help them out.

Mary sure would appreciate it if we did.