Col. McClureColonel McClure 

Colonel McClure has been in the Air Force for much of his life and served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He devotes himself to his country, his education, and his family. As a strong man and wonderful role model, Colonel McClure stands apart from so many others.  (Part I, Part II)

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Mrs. Jackson

Mrs. Jill Jackson

Victim of a rooster attack as a child, traveler to places all over the world, and wife and mother to her wonderful family, Mrs. Jackson has had so many exciting and interesting experiences to share. She could tell me stories about her life for hours or days, and I would sit and listen, hanging on her every word!  (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Mr. Wees

Mr. Dale Wees

A pilot in the Army Air Corp and the Army serving his country for 28 years, Mr. Wees has many memories about his youth, his time in the service, and his experiences with his family. He has a wonderful philosophy about life, and Mr. Wees also gives great advice for the upcoming generations of America. (Part I, Part II)

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Mrs. Marti ShoopMrs. Shoop

With many stories about hardships during her life as a child throughout the Great Depression and later WWII, Mrs. Shoop displays how courage and family support can pull you through any struggles. Mrs. Shoop’s strong faith, pride for her great-grandchildren, and thoughtfulness shines through, and I loved hearing her stories.

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Mrs. WarrenMrs. Connie Warren

Always smiling and in an optimistic spirit, Mrs. Warren tells the most interesting stories about her exciting life. She tells about shaking hands with Elvis Presley as a teenager, meeting her husband on a blind date, and traveling to beautiful places with him, like the pink beaches of Bermuda. Mrs. Warren is so funny, kind, and thoughtful, and she brightens the day of everyone she meets.

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Cotton FieldsAnonymous

Growing up as a sharecropper’s daughter, this sweet woman tells of her childhood on a farm, life during WWII, and her dream of becoming a nurse. She also shares the incredible story of marrying her lifelong husband after only 11 days of knowing him and then traveling the world with him and their children first as a military family and then as missionaries.

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Ms. Sallis

Ms. Joan Sallis

Ms. Sallis is  an incredible woman who has traveled all over the world. After working for US embassies in Venezuela, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and more during the 80’s and 90’s, Ms. Sallis has so many stories about cultures very different from America’s, and she tells about living in the Middle East throughout a time of tension during and after the Carter Administration and Energy Crisis. (Part I, Part II)

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Mrs. BryanMrs. Dottie Bryan

Mrs. Bryan tells about growing up in a small town in the Virginian countryside where teachers were boarders at her home and where her grandmother made dandelion wine. She also tells warm, charming stories about Atlanta in its earlier days, meeting her husband, and corresponding with him during WWII.

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During her childhood in France during WWII, this woman’s family had to move away from their lovely home in Strasbourg that her father had just built and had to pull together whatever they could to put food on the table and survive. Not only did her sister have to dig trenches with the Hitler Youth, but her father was also forced into hiding to stay out of the Nazi Army. After the war, this inspiring woman found strength in her education, her family, and her religion to later become a nurse, meet her husband, and move to the United States. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Mrs. Ritter2

Mrs. Jennifer Ritter

Mrs. Ritter tells about fulfilling her dream of going to college, becoming a teacher, and discovering her passion for science. She tells wonderful stories of how as a teacher, she has unknowingly made a difference in so many students’ lives. As a survivor of cancer and a strong, independent woman, she shows how determination and an optimistic spirit can always pull you through. (Part I, Part II)

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Mr. KinsmanMr. Joel Kinsman

Mr. Kinsman is one of the most optimistic, inspiring people I have met. He tells about surviving a premature birth, growing up in the South Bronx of New York City, joining the Air Force at the young age of seventeen, earning his GED, Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees, and so much more. With many exciting experiences, Mr. Kinsman shares much wisdom and advice. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Mr. George McCormick

After thirty years with military police and intelligence, Mr. McCormick has traveled the world to places including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and South Korea. He tells about growing up in a small town in North Carolina, falling in love with his wife, and gaining an insider’s perspective about the world’s complicated issues. With many incredible stories, Mr. McCormick shows what it means to live fully. (Part I, Part II)

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Mrs. Nix2

Mrs. Kemie Nix

Founder of Children’s Literature, Mrs. Nix has made a difference in so many children’s’ lives. She has strengthened reading programs of inner-city schools, has built libraries in places like Kenya and Puerto Rico, and has sent thousands of books overseas through her Reader to Reader program. Through all her accomplishments, she encourages others to reach out to others to discover their potential and change the world. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Mr. Norman PettersonPetterson2

Mr. Petterson is a wonderful storyteller. With joyful excitement, he tells about taking advantage of each opportunity that comes his way. He has been involved with parades and reenactments with a Revolutionary militia, been an extra in TV shows and movies, planned many bluegrass and Cajun music festivals, taken extensive road trips across the nation, and much more. For Mr. Petterson, each day is another chance to check more items off his never-ending bucket list. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Mrs. Baker

Mrs. Peggy Baker

Mrs. Baker has the best, most charming personality! She paints her incredible, historical picture of living with the effects of the Great Depression, growing up with the growing of Atlanta, working to be one of the first woman graduates from Georgia State, becoming a pioneer businesswoman in advertising (with Ivan Allen, too!), designing her own house, losing her baby girl with Down syndrome, and supporting the Joseph Sams School with her husband. (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV)

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Mrs. Potts

Mrs. Lucille Potts

Involved in politics and women’s rights, Mrs. Potts has achieved so much throughout her careers in the Navy during WWII (WAVES), as an elected Council Member in Maryland, and as a professional travel agent later in her life. With much laughter and humor, she discusses her time in Washington DC during the Civil Rights Movement, her spiritual philosophies, her wonderful stories of married life with her husband through the decades, and much more along with meaningful pieces of wisdom to share. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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DeGroots2The de Groots

Mr. de Groot’s family came to Iowa from the Netherlands, and he tells of growing up plowing fields of crops with horses, delivering bottles of milk, and studying in a one-room schoolhouse. He also has earned many degrees including an Accounting B.A., a History M.A., and a Bio-Medical Ph.D. Mrs. de Groot shares about growing up in many places around the US, playing in her high school’s celebrated marching band, and working hard to fulfill her dream to be a nurse. She gives the best advice about what it means to be part of a treasured family and how to overcome whatever difficulties life throws you. The two together are the most inspiring couple! (Mr. de Groot, Mrs. de Groot, Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Mrs. Sandee BealMrs. Beal

Mrs. Beal shares the most insightful wisdom about the secrets to a valuable life by telling stories of growing up in a small town in West Virginia with her loving family, the twist and turns throughout the years, the pain experienced while going through a divorce, how much she grew and became stronger during the healing process, and all the ways her family enriches her life. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Mr. BryanMr. William J. Bryan III

Like Forrest Gump, Mr. Bryan has been involved in major historical events. He tells amazing stories about his time studying chemical engineering at GA Tech, joining the military in the area of world intelligence, meeting highly intelligent, incredible people there, experiencing different cultures, and personally observing both the Pueblo incident of 1968 and the coup d’état of Torrijos in Panama. With energy and enthusiasm, Mr. Bryan gives much useful advice and continues to advocate issues he cares about. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Ms. Whitlock

Mrs. Elizabeth Whitlock

Mrs. Whitlock opened the first New York Stock Exchange member firm office on the southside of Atlanta in 1983. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master of Education degree, and taught in public schools before becoming a Financial Advisor. Along this career path, she has set an inspirational example of strong independence and determination. Still fully engaged in her practice, she continues to motivate others in her industry.

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Mr. Ernie HooksMr. Hooks

Mr. Hooks has a deep love for learning and works passionately to spread that love of learning to others. He is a deeply intelligent man, the author of the children’s series Let’s Go See Mother Wilkerson’s Farm, an accomplished architect, Harvard graduate, and US veteran. With much enthusiasm, he tells of his successful and elaborate careers and gives much useful advice to promote a better world for everyone. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Mrs. Newell  Tozzer (My Grandmother)Nana

My grandmother grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and has been a Southern girl, drinking Coca-Cola and eating peaches all her life. She tells vivid, descriptive stories about her childhood during WWII and explains what it was like to have her father, a famous war correspondent, taken captive by the Germans after giving the world the first eyewitness report of D-Day. She also tells about the paths that led to her impressive careers as both a high school history teacher with her Master’s degree and an editor for the Centers for Disease Control while also raising two children as a single mother. With so many similar interests and passions, I love my grandmother so much, and I love her intelligent, optimistic outlook on life. As Rosalind Russell remarks in our favorite movie Auntie Mame, “Live, live, live! Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!” (Part I, Part II, Part III)

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Mrs. Hotard2Mrs. Brenda Hotard

I’ve been lucky to have Ms. Brenda as my dance teacher for about 10 years now, and it’s impossible to express in words how incredible she is. Along the paths of growing up in London during and after WWII, falling in love with and marrying a man in the U.S. military, living in many places (including South Korea for almost 3 years), devoting herself to thriving in and expanding the dance world, and so much else, her life has been and continues to be full of fascinating adventures.

While listening to one of Ms. Brenda’s stories after ballet class one day, the inspiration for this project came to me. For this reason, I will publish her more extensive interview in a special way. Each of these posts will be one of over 15 chapters of the interview in which she excitingly told me stories from her amazing life’s collection (while we also sipped tea, nibbled on delicious lemon cake, and stroked the backs of sweet cats). ;)

So often, I run into people who somehow know and love Ms. Brenda, so Ms. Brenda, these published transcriptions of the gift you gave me are in honor of the many lives you have touched and continue to reach out to. To each person you meet you give a spark of joy, and to the people who haven’t yet had this pleasure I hope to give that spark through the stories you tell on this blog.

Time of the War

After WWII: School Life

The Early Dancing Years

The Playful, Unafraid Child

Finding Paths Back to Dance

Political Career

The Beginning of Military Life

The Way Back to Dance

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3 thoughts on “Interviewees

  1. It was by chance that I came across this, looking up Burlington School…and I found this! I also went to Burlington from 1961-1968, grew up in London in the 50s and 60s…also live elsewhere and also dance and many other things..Many of her reminiscences about Burlington rang true for me. I also remember records being played on rainy days when you couldn’t go outside, and the most ancient dances being demanded of us! However, I don’t have such a rosy image of my time there as she does. Very interesting though, to come across her comments.

  2. For no apparent reason, I decided to look up Brenda Hotard last night and found this! Wonderful stuff from a lovely lady. Our paths have crossed a few times as military wives. At age 38, I was part of the Can-Can group she formed at Ft. Leavenworth in 1987(?). And she taught my then 4 year old daughter dance at Ft. Benning in 1977-78. Small world. I look forward to reading all of her entries.

  3. I just looked back and saw this. That is amazing that you went to Burlington School, too! It proves what a small world it is. It’s also interesting to hear your perspective of the school and that dance was also a part of your life. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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