An ANGEL in Athens Georgia

An ANGEL in Athens Georgia

Posted in the Athens Forum


Monroe, GA

#1 Aug 29, 2013
Mr. Pete McCommons, Editor August 21, 2013

Flagpole Magazine

Athens, GA 30601

Dear Pete:

Upon reading your piece today on the late Mayor Bentley, I had these thoughts.

Many years ago a family lived on the other side of the railroad tracks in a building they did not own, on land they did not own, with no running water or indoor plumbing or heating other than by the wood they cut every season.

This family barely owned the clothes on their backs, but the Mother and Father who produced 5 girls and 1 boy still provided their children with the necessary love and attention and values to become good citizens. The area where they lived was near Colbert in neighboring Madison County. Their lifestyle might as well have been described by John Steinbeck in his great work “The Grapes of Wrath”.

The members of this family did the most difficult of work for pennies; picking cotton even as kids. The school bus driver was so mean if the kids were not exactly at the bus stop, he would not pick them up leaving them to walk miles to school along unkept dirt roads often in horrible weather conditions. Perhaps this is why many of them did not continue school past the 8th grade despite their clear intelligence and will to do so and despite the abject poverty of their conditions.

One of the girls, appropriately named Mary, was special. She worked for almost forty years in nursing homes beginning at about one dollar per hour. She had enormous intelligence and tenacity and compassion and love for all patients, regardless of their color or condition or place in life.

She saved many lives. She cured horrible open wounds which doctors said could not be healed. She fostered patients to walk who doctors said would never do so. The late doctor Nile Clark, M.D. observed this remarkable nurse, a true angel according to the basic definition of that word.

This angel also observed horrible acts of other employees toward innocent patients over the years, with totally incompetent supervision and oversight by negligent owners who cared only about a five letter obscene word MONEY, not the welfare of patients. Mary followed the Hippocratic Oath likely without ever having taken it formally as all medical doctors must and do.

Mary could do the work of two men. At the end of her 40 year career, she earned about $6.00 per hour a shamefully low pay for the great work she was so inspired to do for others. She had the intelligence of about a dozen of today’s high school graduates and possible college graduates as well.

Before her oldest sister Roberta died at age 92, she gave Mary the highest compliment a nurse can receive “I owe my life to you.” Mary cared little about worldly things; she never even owned a house or a car. But she loved all people whom she came into contact with.

The other day Mary nearly died herself. All those others whom she saved are no longer alive to return the debt owed to her for their lives, so others had to step in. Fortunately a number of good doctors and nurses at St. Mary’s Hospital brought her back from the brink of death, likely caused by a doctor prescribed drug. But before she was admitted to the Hospital, I sought to talk to her local “family” physician. His nurse refused to even talk to me or even listen about her condition! Shameful is far too polite a word to describe this attitude in total opposition to the Hippocratic Oath.

Now I ask you Pete, you mentioned that Mr. Bentley was a “good Mayor”. But you provided no examples. Did he save any lives or make lives better as did this remarkable woman with very little formal education from the cotton fields of Colbert, for poverty wages, whose sole entertainment as a child was a ten cent ride into Athens on the train to watch a movie once in a blue moon?

Continued below:


Monroe, GA

#2 Aug 29, 2013
Continued from above:

Mary Etta Tucker Coker is her name. She deserves equal or more kudos for contributions to the Athens Community as any politician who grew up on the “gentry” side of the tracks. All she ended up with was a Social Security Pension from the government and a cheap plaque from the last owner of the nursing home on Epps Bridge Rd., but no articles in the newspaper telling the world what a giant angel she was to humanity in Athens and beyond. She has been given another chance for life by the Good Lord. I hope she survives to 100.

I could write many other articles on numerous others who also contributed to the Athens Community. These are the folks who should be in history books about Athens, not just “Good Old Boys” or politicians from the “right” side of the tracks in the Chamber of Commerce crowd, who have likely never suffered abject unspeakable poverty as this remarkable angel Mary and her family so suffered.

Winfield J. Abbe, Ph.D., Physics

150 Raintree Ct.

Athens, GA 30607

Citizen of Athens for about 47 years

Raised at Sierra Madre, California

Born at Cleveland, Ohio, 1939

Not a “Native Athenian”.

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