Mrs. Anna Laura Long, a long-time Walnut Ridge resident, centenarian, and retired teacher recently celebrated a birthday.
“Anna Laura is a special lady, loved and valued by neighbors and by former students who were taught by her in grades K, 1, or 2,” friend and neighbor Joyce Rose said.
Several of her friends and neighbors felt she needed to be honored on her birthday and planned some events to recognize the occasion. The first event was the posting of her picture and information about her birthday on several Facebook pages asking for messages and/or cards to be sent to her. These messages were collected by neighbor Shirley Murphy and put in a notebook for her to have.
Several hundred messages were sent including one by a former student who said that Anna Laura was her best friend when she was her first-grade teacher and another who said having her was what motivated her to become a teacher.
Long was also honored to receive a card from Dr. Stan Norman of Williams Baptist University and now has a framed congratulatory letter from Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Another special happening was the placement of a Happy Birthday sign in her yard. It was sponsored by neighbors and friends, Joyce Rose, Shirley Murphy, Bob and Delores Magee and Sharon Goodwin. The sign remained in her yard for a couple of days.
Former students, neighbors and friends gathered in the late afternoon on her birthday to visit and to sing Happy Birthday to her. Long’s daughter and son-in-law, Cynthia and Ed Hicks, of Kansas City were visiting and helped her celebrate. She received calls and flowers from her granddaughter, Laura Charleton, and her husband, Peter, and her great-granddaughter, Olivia, who all live in California. Her niece, Ellen Justus, called as well. Among the many flowers she received was a special bouquet from the employees of Karen’s Florist.
Several former students and neighbors made contact, as well.
“Anna Laura was a magnet for children growing up in the neighborhood with several sending messages and with visits by Dr. Vonda Gale Davis Houchin, Dina Rose and Adam Hufstedler,” Rose said.
Adam brought his sons Abel and Anson who serenaded her with Happy Birthday and the Alphabet song. Other former neighbors making contact were Linda Long, Betty Gale Davis and Jane and Aaron Jarboe. Unable to visit, but calling with a special message was former student John Bland.
In addition to Ed and Cynthia, those visiting and singing were former students Mayor Charles Snapp and Roger Waddell and his wife Barbara. Others joining the celebration were Glenn and Shirley Murphy, Joyce Rose and Dina Rose, Sue Gibson, Bob and Delores Magee, Chris Thompson and Sharon Goodwin.
“All of the calls, visits and messages were very much appreciated,” Rose said. “One gift yet to be shared will be a collection of the pictures taken at the birthday gathering.”