December 13, 1931 - April 15, 2015
Grace Virginia Tidrow – A Life Well Lived
Grace Tidrow went home April 15th 2015 leaving those of us who loved her reeling from shock at our loss and grateful to have known someone so full of life and love.
She was born in Mountain Home, Arkansas to Roy and Else Drown, December 13, 1931. She always said of her life that she guessed she was raised poor, but she never knew it because her parents filled her life with love. She never went hungry, she had clothes and a roof over her head. More than that, she had the world as a playground and she had a fertile imagination. She was raised in a time when girls were supposed to get married and raise a family at a very young age, but all she wanted to do was read. Her aunts used to shake their heads and despair because the answer to the question, “Where’s Grace?” was always, “She’s in her bed reading another book.” In a time when books were not that easy to acquire, when she did not have a book, she read the Sears catalog over and over.
She would proudly proclaim to everyone that she was the product of the one room school and no one could ask for a better education. Since she was not required to work the farm, she went to Winter and Summer school. As result, she graduated High School at 16, graduated Lyon College with a B.S. and had her emergency teaching license at 18. Her first job was to teach High School to a class where many of the students were her age. She almost packed it in after that year and what a loss that would have been to the 1,500 plus children she taught in her lifetime. Instead she started dropping down in age groups until she got to the age she could understand, kindergarten. She always said that she could understand why a 5 year old acted like a 5 year old, but she could not understand why a 15 year old acted like a 5 year old.
At 21 she packed up and moved away to teach in Seminole Texas. All the aunts that worried about her prospects could rest at ease because there she met the love of her life, Dick Tidrow. It was pretty much love at first sight one night at the drive-in movie. He was only 19 so they had to get his parent’s permission to get married. What followed was what she would consider her greatest creations, Mark, Mickey, John, Cindy and Ginger. She always said, “I may not stand up for myself, but let someone try to hurt one of my kids and I come out swinging.” She was the epitome of the modern woman before it was fashionable to be one. She ran a house, raised five kids and worked full time shaping the lives of children.
In 1980, she and the love of her life parted ways after 27 years of marriage. Her Dad wanted her to come home so he could take care of her. She said no, and she started a new life. She found a new teaching job and began her life as a single woman. People asked if she ever wanted to get married again and she said, “I’ve had one marriage and one divorce and that’s enough for anyone!” This pivotal moment began her life at Scroggins Elementary School. She was a marvelous teacher who taught with laughter and music, hugs and games, and a stern word when needed. She tried to instill a lesson in everything she did, whether it was churning butter with the kids so they would know it did not come from a paper wrapper at the grocery store, to teaching letters and numbers with songs she made up herself. The children she taught got a great foundation and many of them remember her so fondly that they became teachers and carried on her legacy.
One of her proudest moments was the creation of her park. The school did not have a place for the children to play so she fought to get the land for them to have a park and play set. It is next to Scroggins Elementary and it bears her name.
She was a life-long learner and always looked for ways to improve her teaching skills and methods. She became certified in English as a Second Language to work with her Hispanic students. She then returned to school to get a Master’s Degree in Early Education. She went on to complete all her course work for doctorate, but decided she didn’t want a title.
She was an activist in her own way. Union Steward for her school and active in the fight for better working conditions for teachers. She met several Governors, but her favorite was Anne Richards. It always amazed her that people would pay someone more to toss a football down to the end zone then they would to educate their children. So she passionately worked on the cause until she retired in 2000 after a 50 year career as a teacher.
She moved to Valdosta, Georgia to be near her son Mark in 2000. When she retired she could have sat back and done nothing, rested on the laurels of a great career, but she didn’t. She started a new career as a volunteer. She served on the board of the LAMP – Lowndes Associated Ministries to People, Inc. and later as a member of the homeless shelter committee.
Grace was not just a name; she was filled with it. She walked with God all her life from her younger days as a missionary in the Appalachia Mountains to her later days where she was a vibrant member of The Gathering Methodist Church. She helped with the kids before church and loved bible study. She helped her friend Cassie Reese run functions behind the scenes for all the parishioners to enjoy; and she was always willing to stand up and give her testimony in prose or in poetry.
Grace Tidrow was a very creative and artistic person. She wrote poetry her entire life. It seemed she just thought in iambic pentameter some days. Her poetry won an award from the International Society of Poets, and she privately published a book of her poetry which 200 people are lucky to own.
In addition to poetry, she painted in oil and acrylic and finger paints. She could cut out the entire alphabet in block letters with no pattern and have them match perfectly. She would get an idea and have a pattern made out of a napkin if that was all she had on hand. She loved to paint T-shirts with funny sayings. She designed and decorated bags every year to hold Christmas cookies. She quilted and baked and crafted and built dollhouses. If only we could harness the energy she had in her idea machine of a mind, we could save the world.
Of herself she would have said that teaching was her greatest gift, she was addicted to the printed word, her children were her greatest blessing, and “have suitcase will travel.”
What I would say of her, is that she loved freely, gave generously, laughed often, created much, taught many and literally graced all of our lives by living hers to the fullest.
Grace is survived by three children: John Tidrow, Cindy Williamson and Ginger Tidrow and her granddaughter Jennifer Tidrow.
In Loving Memory from a daughter she loved so well, keep the light burning for me Mom for the day I go home too.
In lieu of flowers Grace would have loved donations to:
Lowndes Associated Ministries to People (LAMP)
Arrangements are under the direction of
ARIA Cremation Service and Funeral Home
19310 Preston Road
Dallas, Texas 75252
To express your sympathy with a flower arrangement please contact our florist.