Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Frances Scruggs Paulk Bredemeier - July 18, 1916 - July 12, 2009

This is the obituary that will appear in the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune. It first appeared on Remembering Frances.

Frances Scruggs Paulk Bredemeier was born July 18, 1916 in a log house out in the country in Batesville, Mississippi to Robert and Lily Scruggs. When she was 16 years old, she canned the most greens beans in all of the State of Mississippi 4-H Clubs. This won her a trip to the 1932 Chicago World’s Fair where she met and had breakfast with Amelia Earhart a few month’s after Miss Earhart’s historic solo flight across the Atlantic. She was Class Valedictorian and Commencement Speaker when she graduated from Batesville High School in 1934, with a full scholarship to Bellhaven College in Bellhaven, Mississippi.

She married Jesse E. Paulk on September 30, 1938. They lived in Batesville where her husband was head of Paulk Brothers Well Drilling and Plumbing. On April 23, 1956, Jesse Paulk brought in the largest gas well ever to be brought in the Southeastern United States. They were members of Batesville Presbyterian Church and she was a member of the Batesville Woman’s Club, which helped get the phrase “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.

In 1956, Mrs. Paulk and her husband Jesse and their children, Virginia and Michael, moved to Crystal Beach, Florida. She worked for Ellis National Bank in Tarpon Springs, Florida (later to become Bank of America), where she was the first woman Vice President in the Ellis Bank Group. She retired from banking after 40 years on July 16, 1996, just two days before her 80th birthday.

In Florida, Mrs. Paulk was a charter member of the Crystal Beach Community Church, which was founded in 1957 by the Rev. C.W.A. Bredemeier, whom she later married on August 28, 1971, after her husband Jesse Paulk died on September 12, 1961. She was Church Secretary and Sunday School Teacher. She was a member of the Tarpon Springs Hospital (now Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital) Women’s Auxiliary. Mrs. Paulk was also a member and secretary for the Palm Harbor Junior High School PTA; secretary-treasurer of the Crystal Beach Chapter of Boy Scouts of America and received the Mother of an Eagle Scout Award; and a member of the National Association of Bank Women, Inc. having served as Treasurer of the Gulf Coast Group of N.A.B.W. She was nominated for listing in Who’s Who of American Women; she was the first recipient of the Courtesy Award given by the Greater Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce; she was named Woman of the Year by the American Business Women Association Tarpon Springs Charter Chapter; and Mrs. Paulk was also a Kentucky Colonel, having been awarded this honor by the Governor of Kentucky in 1974. She was selected for lifetime membership in the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels for her work as an ambassador of good will and fellowship, based upon her strength of character, leadership and dedication to the welfare of others and for “living a life that placed others above self.” Frances was also a member in good standing in the Kentucky Colonels’ Good Works Program.

Her daughter Virginia was with her in Florida since she went blind as a result of macular degeneration and glaucoma in 2002. In October 2003, Mrs. Paulk, with the assistance of her daughter Virginia, was responsible for causing Verizon, Inc. to set up Call Centers for Customers with Disabilities in all 50 states. Also, due to the diligent efforts of Mrs. Paulk and Virginia, Verizon, Inc. since 2003 allows all customers who are unable to dial telephone numbers to simply “0” and the operator will then dial the number for them without any extra charges or fees.

Mrs. Paulk was best known for sweet Southern drawl, her kind and gentle ways, her honesty and dependability, her willingness to “go the extra mile” for friends and acquaintances alike. She was also a talented seamstress, who made all Virginia’s clothes until after she went off to college, as well as her own. She enjoyed reading, walking, cooking, sewing, needlepoint, working in her garden, playing the piano and bridge, travels to Germany, Chicago and Washington D.C. She enjoyed most her time spent with her family and friends. Her favorite activity, however, was participating in weekly church services and devoted her life living Christ’s word through her actions.

Mrs. Paulk is survived by her daughter, Virginia P. Gardner of Arlington Heights, Illinois, her son Dr. Michael E. (Maureen) Paulk of Payson, Arizona, her 4 grandchildren Jessica Gardner, David Gardner, Jesse Paulk and Ryan Paulk, her sister Dixie Gladney, her nieces Bobbie Ruth (Charles) Lavender of Roanoke, Virginia; Charlayne (Richard) Lamb of Batesville, Mississippi; her nephews Robert Harold Gladney and Vernon R. (“Sonny”) (Elizabeth Ann) Butler; her 5 great-nieces: Robbie (A.G.) Nichols, Dixie Lamb, Mazie Lamb, Elesha (Troy) Tucker, Mary Elizabeth Butler, her 3 great-nephews Yancy Butler, Garth Gladney, and Tom (Andrea) Gladney; her cousin Cornelia Waldrup DeFrances of Baton Rouge, Louisana; step-son-in-law Jim Erdman, step-son-in-law Jim Erdman; step-daughter Betty Earle (Don) Bredemeier Huffman; step-grandchildren the Rev. Chris Erdman, James Erdman, Julie Huffman, and Paul Huffman; and other family and friends. On the Paulk side of the family, she is survived by Buddy Paulk, Pam Paulk Kuiper, Gene Paulk, Dennis Paulk, Katie Paulk, Ronnie Pinder, and Dixie Gilpen. She was preceded in death by her brother Robert Scruggs, Jr.; her sisters Robbie Scruggs, Mazie Scruggs, and Johnnie Scruggs Butler; her step-daughter Margaret Ann Bredemeier Erdman, and her husbands Jesse E. Paulk and Rev. C.W.A. Bredemeier.

Visitation will be at Vinson’s Funeral Home at 456 E. Tarpon Ave. in Tarpon Springs, Florida on Friday, July 17, 2009, from 6pm – 8pm.

A Celebration of Life service will be held on what would be Mrs. Paulk’s 93rd birthday at Crystal Beach Community Church 625 Crystal Beach Ave., Crystal Beach, Florida on Saturday, July 18, 2009, at 2pm. There will be a refreshments and a Birthday Cake in the Fellowship Hall afterwards for Family and Friends. The Reverend Dr. Susie Cashion will officiate.

Following services in Florida, her daughter Virginia & her grandchildren Jessica and David will accompany Frances’ body to her hometown of Batesville, Mississippi.

Complete details of the services and internment along with many memories and pictures of Mrs. Paulk can be found at Remembering Frances.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Crystal Beach Community Church, P.O. Box 571, Crystal Beach, Florida 34681 for restoration & protection of the church’s 60-year-old stained glass windows. Please write “Frances Paulk Memorial” in the MEMO section of your check.

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