A DeFuniak Springs Woman of Light

JEAN ANDERSON and her family gathered at the unveiling of the marble marker at her own special light pole on Circle Drive, honoring her as a Woman of Light. (Photo by Brigitte C. Gordon)

Story and photos by Brigitte C. Gordon
On Friday, June 16, 2017 at 10 a.m. , The Woman’s Club of DeFuniak Springs held a wonderful celebration at the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood to honor “a DeFuniak Springs Woman of Light,” Ms. Jean Anderson.
Family, friends, community members and previous co-workers flowed into the doors of the Hall, to the point that the seats became filled to capacity and many were left standing. Carol Doxey, the Womans Club President, was the first to the podium to welcome everyone and to introduce the mayor to the audience. Mayor Bob Campbell said a few words and paid tribute to Anderson’s dedication to the community and read a letter, written by Congressman Matt Gaetz, commending her for her service to the area and its citizens. Then the mayor presented her with a “Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition” from the senator himself. The audience erupted in applause and Anderson had a smile on her face,that said it all.
Christine Guzowski paid tribute to Jean Anderson by reading her bio, recounting her numerous accomplishments throughout her years in DeFuniak Springs. Philip Anderson, Jean’s son, got up and said a few words, that made everyone chuckle. Jean’s best friend and cousin, Fay Hardy, approached the podium to present a banquet of red roses, and Jean said in a loud voice, “Oh my! Somebody take a picture!” Jean took center stage at that point, saying matter of factly, with a smile on her face, “I don’t need a microphone, I can project just fine! Can everybody hear me?!” Her humility shined through as she kept saying over and over, “I am so blessed! Thank you!” She turned and asked the audience to give a hand to the Women’s Club for all they had done.
When the applause began to die down, she took her opportunity of freedom on the floor to tell two hilarious stories, which had the audience erupting in laughter. One story was of her home at Christmas time and how her whole family prepared for a beautiful Christmas Day presentation. They decorated in each room; and prepared themselves to serve cookies and punch. Just as the first guests began to come down her candle-lit side walk, all the lights went out! She still had the crowd come in her home and they lit candles everywhere in her house. Her home is remembered by many as “the house where the light went out.”
Her second story started with, “I often gaze out of my windows to look at the lake, but this day I saw something strange that caught my eye. I noticed the rocking chair, rocking out front. I stepped outside, looked around the corner and found an older lady rocking and staring out over the lake.” Jean was puzzled, and said to her, “Well hello, How are you?” The lady responded, “ I’m just fine.” Jean asked her if she would like something to drink, and after bringing it to her, she realized she had many chores that still needed to be done. So in a kind voice, she said to the lady, “Make sure you be careful going down those steps.”
The woman replied “Oh don’t worry, I come here often, I know how tricky they can be.” So Jean turned, scratched her head and went in her home, feeling a little strange and checking out of her window periodically, seeing she was still there rocking. Then the third time she checked she was gone, but realized the woman left a pine cone next to the rocking chair.
Months passed and Jean decided her chairs needed a facelift, so she got rid of her red pillows and purchased new colorful pillows. She still hadn’t seen that woman for quite a while. Then out of the blue, while sweeping her front porch… there she was, rocking in her rocking chair! The rocking chair lady turned to her and said, “You changed your pillows on your chairs, but honestly, I liked the other red ones better.”
Since that day, Jean said, “I often wonder if I should put out the red cushions, maybe my rocking chair lady may come back.”
Refreshments were served as all the people lined up to give this terrific woman a hug or a handshake. Near the close of the event, Paulette Morrison led Jean, her family and friends to the light pole and unveiled the memorial marker. She was dedicated a light on Circle Drive, with a marker that reads: “Jean Anderson 1932 Christmas reflections.”
As Jean raised the veil, she seemed quite surprised. In closing, all would say, Jean Anderson you are an amazing Godly woman, an encouragement to everyone you touch, a remarkable cheerleader to all, and a shining light to this community!