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Born in a flower garden

By Kay S. Pedrotti Azalea Garden Club’s Jackie Carter of Barnesville was so busy with spring planting she almost didn’t have time to talk to The Herald Gazette. A charter, 61-year member of the Azalea club, the diminutive dynamo recently was honored with a Jackie Carter Day at the regular meeting. A city proclamation, an azalea painting by Eileen Smith and numerous other honors marked the happy celebration. ’I was born in a flower garden,’ says Carter. ‘My mother always had beautiful flowers and plants and a really nice vegetable garden. I tagged along with her as soon as I could walk. Now I’m just continuing a lovely tradition.’ Besides having charter membership, Carter became one of the club’s presenters in its first year. She did a workshop session on how to plant seeds, using vermiculite and soil she sterilized in her oven. A little folded paper chute was used to drop in the tiny seeds, then she taught how deeply to cover each type of seed. Through all her years of membership, she has held many offices and worked constantly with the club’s fundraisers, flower shows and attempts to bring beauty to Barnesville. ’There are some things I’ll tell about me: I’ve always had a garden and I’ve always been happy. I love people and try to find the good in everybody,’ she says. This, in spite of losing her first husband Robert ‘Bob’ Carter after 14 years of marriage and being faced with how to take care of her young children Bobby, 12; Patsy, 11; Kelly, 5; and Donnie, 2. Jackie had graduated from high school at Gordon, then went on for two years of junior college but she had not had a job since her children came. She found one with Emmett Coleman Insurance but seven years later pharmacist Grady Carter became a part of the family. ’Grady has always been a wonderful father to the children,’ she says. ‘He really loved them from the start.’ Since Grady had taken over Carter’s Drugs from his father she left insurance and became secretary, bookkeeper and janitor at the pharmacy. Their four children have now given them six grandchildren and 14 grandchildren. Jackie is a life member of the Garden Club of Georgia and now the Azalea Garden Club. She says she did many projects with the state club and was one of the Azaleas who took care of the park garden down the middle of Main Street before it was redesigned with ironworks and additional parking. The Azalea club started the downtown Christmas lighting ‘“ the Illumination Celebration ‘“ that became a local tradition. Tending her home flower gardens is still her way of relaxing, she says. ‘I’m in my own little heaven where there’s no phone and I can talk to my plants but they don’t talk back. I’m as simple as an old shoe. All those honors? Every project I ever did, everything, there were club members on each side of me. They deserve the honors too.’

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