THROWBACK THURSDAY: Myers spread love throughout Liberty Hill
By JAMES WEAR
Of all the folks I’ve met during my years in Liberty Hill, perhaps none impressed me more than Gloria Myers and her husband Jim. Gloria operated a tiny flower shop downtown next door to the cafe, and from there she, in her own special and unique way, touched many lives. She reminded me of humorist Will Rogers, who once remarked, “I never met a person I didn’t like.” Gloria reached out to folks in their time of need; indeed, one would be hard pressed to find a community endeavor that Gloria didn’t support.
Gloria backed her support with her purse. For many years, one could find her staying up day and night in the days leading up to Homecoming as she and friends made mums with the money she brought in on sales being donated back to the school to fund scholarships for band students. There’s no telling how many thousands of dollars she raised.
Working alongside her on those long days and nights were Barbara Forbes, Cindy Kilian and Janie Rollins–who, along with Gloria’s daughter Dawn (Mickey) Knox, ensured that by game time every mum was complete and delivered.
Her shop was cluttered, but that image was misleading as she was incredibly organized and ahead of the game in most all situations. Back in 1989, she put together an event that she dubbed the first annual Liberty Hill Reawakening, which was essentially the community’s first spring festival. The Independent threw its support behind her concept and published a 20-page tabloid that served both as a newcomer’s guide and a festival program.
Gloria believed such an event could promote Liberty Hill and introduce many of the talented artists that resided in the area. A year later, after the chamber was organized, she continued her efforts and for many years served as the driving force behind the Liberty Hill Festival.
Her strongest asset was her diplomatic skill. Often, when such events and other fundraisers are underway, there are personality clashes similar to the ones we’ve witnessed in city government over the years. Gloria had the ability to bring the opposing personalities together to work for the common goal. That’s not to say she was afraid to butt heads, as she and I did at least once a year as the festival unfolded. She referred to our confrontations as our “annual screaming match” (although neither of us ever screamed) but by the end of the day, we were hugging each other once again.
I recall once, as the festival wound down, going up to the high school where the arts and crafts fair had been held, and Gloria, mop in hand, scrubbing away at the floors and making sure all was back in order before locking the door. The other chamber directors had long since left and were attending a post-festival party, but Gloria, the workaholic that she was, knew there were things still to be done before she could call it a day.
But Gloria, who worked for Southwestern Bell for many years before tiring of the corporate world, was much more than a community event organizer. She was also a listening post for both young and old, and many kids, having personal problems and needing a fresh beginning, got that boost from Gloria and Jim.
Jim, unlike Gloria, was rather quiet and although he didn’t hesitate to provide support when she needed it, preferred to putter around his yard after a long day at work. He and Gloria lived across the street from Paula and me, and we’d often watch as he walked about their home’s exterior, cold beer in hand, surveying what would be his next home improvement project.
Often that would involve trimming tree limbs, and Jim had a rather unique approach to bringing down an unwanted limb. Forgoing the use of a ladder and chainsaw, he’d throw a rope and cinch a knot around the limb, tie the other end of the rope to the bumper on his van and then hop in his van and floor the accelerator. More often than not, the limb would come crashing down and owing to a bit of luck and perhaps a silent prayer on his part, no one was ever hurt.
Jim, after becoming a member of the fire board, became the leading collector of items for the fire department’s annual auction and was also the key figure in securing insurance for volunteers, something the firefighters had never had before.
Sadly, after 39 years of marriage and three children, Jim was struck with cancer and after a valiant fight, passed away. I don’t think Gloria ever got over the loss and while she put on a brave front, it was obvious that life had dealt her a difficult blow. She continued to run the flower shop and helped Troy Joseph launch the Community Information Center, but her own declining health often left her hospitalized. She eventually sold both her home and the business and moved in with her oldest daughter who cared for her until her death in the fall of 2011.
Gloria was never one to preach, but those who knew her personally knew she was a devout Christian and a post she made on Facebook only a few months before her passing underscored that belief.
In a post dated April 23, 2011, Gloria wrote, “Jesus loved us so much and do we deserve it? Can you just imagine your beloved child going through the indignities, pain and death for an often uncaring family that we can be. I miss so much Pasca at the Russian Orthodox Church. There you see the true meaning of the day. There is the sadness and dark of Jesus’ death then the resurection with the beautiful light and brightness with the repeated chant over and over ‘yes, He is risen – Christ is risen!!’ always said with such glory. Thank you, Jesus!”
Send comments to James Wear by email james@LHIndependent.com.