Watkinsville Garden Club
Faye and Norm Grayson
Contributed by Frank and Cheryl Johnson in April 2011.
Norm Grayson died in January 2019.
It was recently our pleasure to visit with Faye Grayson and her husband, Norm, to continue our series of visits to veteran Watkinsville Garden Club members’ homes and gardens. It was a delight to spend time with the Graysons to learn about Faye’s life and garden club activities.
Faye’s grandfather, Edmund Pendleton Gaines, and his wife traveled from Ohio westward in a covered wagon for years, building Methodist churches on the way in various cities. They settled in Kansas and had five sons and four daughters. Faye’s father, William Arthur Gaines, was the second oldest son of the family. He met her mother, Myrtle Lovinia McKinzie, while she was working in the courthouse in Topeka, Kansas.
Faye was born on May 13, 1922 in Richland, Kansas. Faye noted that Richland is the home town of Georgia Neese Clark, the first woman appointed to head the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C. She served from 1949 to 1953. Her parents, Albert and Ellen Neese, were the Gaines family’s bankers in Richland.
Faye grew up on a cattle and wheat farm. She graduated from Liberty Memorial High School in 1940. During her early high school years, she played a piano and guitar with an Hawaiian String Band. The band played on amateur programs on radio stations WREN in Lawrence, KS, WIBW in Topeka, KS and KMBC in Kansas City, MO. She was a cheerleader and also played basketball while in high school. She attended Oread Training School and the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. She graduated from Lawrence Business College and worked for ten years in the U.S. Army Medical Department in the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
She met her husband, Norm Grayson, a native of Spindale, NC, while visiting her sister who lived in San Diego. He was a career Navy man and finally persuaded her to marry him. Over the years they lived in several different cities including San Diego, CA, Seattle, WA, Indianhead, MD, and Arlington, VA. Faye was active in church work, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leadership and other children’s activities. She also taught First Aid classes for the American Red Cross in several cities.
Norm retired after twenty-two years of service in the Navy. His final duty station was the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens and they remained here because their children were in school. The Graysons worked tirelessly in support of the School for many years after his retirement. In recognition of his work, he was made an Honorary Admiral. Both Faye and Norm received a plaque honoring their work for the School. They remain active in the Athens Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
In 1965, they bought a farm in Oconee County and built a new house in 1968 where they still live. They have three children and three grandchildren. Their son is a real estate agent, one daughter works at the Career Center at UGA, and the other daughter is an attorney in Watkinsville. Their granddaughter is an anesthetist at Athens Regional Medical Center. Their oldest grandson is in the Marine Corps at Camp Lejune, NC and the other is enrolled at Athens Technical College.
Faye joined the Watkinsville Garden Club in 1970 at the invitation of Blanche Butler. She has participated in many garden club projects and activities over the years including the Elder Mill Bridge Garden and Harris Shoals Park. One of her favorite garden club activities has been hosting plant sales at her home. Faye was honored by the WGC for her work on the “Penny Pines” project which was a collaborative effort of the USDA Forest Service, the National Garden Club and the Garden Club of Georgia. Another milestone in her life was when the WGC nominated a pecan tree on the Grayson property as the oldest and largest pecan tree in Oconee County. It was confirmed that, indeed, her tree is the oldest and largest in the county. Faye served as Vice President of the WGC from 1973-1975. She says that she has met many friends through the club and even though she can no longer participate in the club activities as much as she would like to, she continues to enjoy socializing with those friends. Faye also currently enjoys singing with a group from First Presbyterian Church in Athens that visits area nursing homes to sing for the residents.
Faye was proud to show us the largest and oldest pecan tree in Oconee County. We were also treated to a beautiful pink azalea that was reblooming this fall even though it isn’t normally a rebloomer. Norm noted that two of the hydrangeas planted beside the house were given to him by his mother. They continue to thrive after all these years.
Many thanks go to the Graysons for taking the time to share a bit of their lives with the garden club.