Edith Hamrick Bridgers
(1918 - 2000)
Edith Holland Hamrick was born 84 years ago in Boiling Springs, North Carolina on May 13, 1918. She was the fifth child and third daughter of Thomas Carl and Marietta Moore Hamrick. T. Carl and Marietta went on to have three more daughters and a family of ten.
In spite of her large family Edie's closest relative was her cousin, "DW" Moore, who was a year younger and lived down the road at the home of his father, Edie's maternal uncle Dan Moore. The two were so close that family lore has it that "DW" insisted on starting school with Edie rather than waiting his turn the following year.
"DW" lived in a house his father built across the road from "Grandpa" and "Granny" Moore and the old Holland/Moore homestead -- a complex of buildings including the original Holland home and the elder Moore's current house. In later life, Edie would claim that she felt "lost in the crowd" at her own home -- the Hamrick house down the road -- and was always more comfortable when at her grandparent's.
The Moore's, her maternal grandparents, were just above and just below six feet tall while the Hamrick's, her paternal grandparents, hovered around five feet. Elijah Bly Hamrick was a local merchant and prominent businessman. John Moore was a master-carpenter-builder first arriving in Cleveland County to help build Elijah Bly's home which still stands across the street from the family business, C. J. Hamrick and Sons, which had been founded by Elijah Bly's grandfather, Charles Jefferson Hamrick.
Edie's early childhood was shaped by the hardscrabble life of a cotton farm during the depression years. To make ends meet, her father took jobs as a traveling salesman. At that time, Boiling Springs was home to a "residential" high school and Gardner-Webb Junior College, both supported by both sides of her extended family. The children's education was paramount and all ten of the Hamrick children attended college, unusual for rural families of the time.
In high school Edie led an active social life. She lettered in basketball and was elected May Queen her senior year. Her photographs reveal an attractive and vivacious young woman, the prettiest girl in her class according to her sister Sadie, and "DW's" wife, Bettye.
After high school she attended Gardner Webb College (now University) for two years and then Women's College in Greensboro (now the UNC-G) where she majored in English and obtained her teaching credential.
After college she taught high school in western North Carolina for several years but later confided that she had disliked teaching immensely. Like many others World War II rescued her from this dilemma.
She joined the Navy becoming a Communications Officer in the WAVES assigned to the Air Training Command in Jacksonville, Florida. It was here, in 1945, that she met her future husband, John David Bridgers, a Naval aviator and fellow North Carolinian.
They married after a whirlwind courtship. Over the next 14 years, while Jigs attended medical school and embarked on a medical career, Edie gave birth to six children. Happy not to be teaching, she immersed herself first in her children's upbringing and later, as the children grew, in her community.
She was an active member of the Emerywood Baptist Church in High Point where the bell choir provided her an opportunity to indulge in her love of music even though she was absolutely tone-deaf. In the community, she served as the first woman member on the Board of Trustees for High Point Memorial Hospital and helped to found a preschool at the YWCA, which eventually became the High Point Development Day Care Program.
A final honor came in the 1980's when a classroom in Hamrick Hall (a building named in the 1930's after her paternal grandfather and now housing the Gardner-Webb School of Business) was dedicated in her name by her family and friends at the time of the building's refurbishment.
Her later years were a quiet time of reading and correspondence with her friends and family. She passed away in Woodbridge, Connecticut on August 3, 2000. After a life of sacrifice and several years of illness she died peacefully at home in the arms of her husband of 55 years -- a fitting end for a lovely and generous person.
When we think back on Edie, one thing that stands out was her love of nature and her beautiful gardens. In her memory, her husband and children along with family and friends have established a garden at Emerywood Baptist Church in High Point, North Carolina where several years before she and Jigs had been instrumental in the building of the columbarium in which she is now interred.
This garden seems a fitting tribute to a woman who loved the earth as she loved her family.
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May 13, 2002
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