Friday, July 11, 2008
Reba Webb Goff
Reba Jerleen Webb Goff was born in Glenmary, Scott County, Tennessee to John Henry Webb and Virgie Belle Webb, nee Grimes. She was the first of three children, born during the depression. She had one brother, James Lonnie (Buddy) and one sister, Shelba Jean. In 1932, the family moved from the hills of Tennessee and the land that had been in the Webb family for generations to Ludlow, Kenton County, Kentucky. Reba is my mother.
When John Webb could find work during the depression years, it was often doing odd jobs such as carrying ice and working for the WPA. John's brother, Will, had moved to Northern Kentucky with the Southern Railroad, and eventually, John worked there too.
Virgie always worked, doing laundry for other people or whatever she could to help make ends meet. She worked in Nell Donnelly's store for awhile and eventually bought it from Nell. She carried groceries all over Ludlow, making deliveries for extra cash.
Reba is a product of the Ludlow Independent School system, having graduated from high school in 1948. She has always talked about Anna Jean Fightmaster, whom she said was her best friend through school. There are photographs of the two of them on various trips.
In 1950, Reba married Paul Goff, in a small ceremony in the parsonage of First Baptist Church of Ludlow. The two set up housekeeping living upstairs over Clarence and Gladys Dunnegan's house across from the church. I came along in 1958, and they had moved to Church Street. By 1960, Paul wanted to move to the country. So they borrowed money from Paul's dad for a down payment and bought a house on Bullittsville Road in Burlington, Boone County, Kentucky.
Paul and Reba immediately began attending Burlington Baptist Church to which they eventually moved their membership.
Reba didn't drive in those years. She worked for Reeve's Drive-in in Florence, and Paul would load me into his Impala and drive her to work at 5:00 and go and get her sometime after 11:00. Somehow, they made that work even though he worked everyday on the Railroad.
Reba's house was immaculate. One could still eat a scrambled egg off the floor of her kitchen and never fear (a weird gene that did not get passed to me.) We had that little bitty house, and every 10 years or so, Reba and Paul would decide to paint the walls and try something different. Yet, it was always simple and neat.
It was sometime in the early 70s that Reba went to work for the Boone County Fiscal Court. Her friend from church, Billie Jo Morris, was beginning a juvenile program in Boone County under the auspices of then County Judge Bruce Ferguson. They asked Reba to come to work, an opportunity for which Reba was always grateful.
Reba is two things: a died in the wool Roosevelt democrat and a strict Southern Baptist. I think she has crossed over in her voting a few times, but never in her spiritual life. She's the rock on a Rock. In the late 60s and early 70s, Reba taught Sunday School. (She was my teacher at least three times. Billie Jo was my teacher four times that I can recall, not to mention my GA leader.) Reba was always the realist in the family too. If someone (I) wanted to take dance lessons, Paul was all for it, but Reba would second guess whether it was right. Paul usually won, and when awards or accolades came as a result, Reba was usually all smiles. Yet, having said that, Reba was usually the one who ended up taking her daughter to all those lessons that Paul decided she should have. Tisk, I regress.
Reba has a million friends. No joke. True Friends. .. At least a million. She knows everybody, and everybody seems to know her. All one has to do is be nice to her, and she'll be their friend for life. She builds people up and defends them. She's very naive, but that's definitely worked for her. Her closest friends have to be Bea & Larky Smith, Mabel & Darrell Reed, Frances Love and Billie Jo Morris. She's also close to her sister-in-law, Dorothy Webb, although she gets frustrated when Dorothy gets snippy. (I don't think she means to get snippy, but she doesn't like to answer many questions.)
Reba is now 79 years young and still works as often as she is needed. She loves working for the county, mostly because she loves being with people. Judge Executive Gary Moore and County Administrator Jeff Earlywine seem to take very good care of her. Daphne Kornblum and Robin Curry also look out for her. They pretty much allow her to come and go as she wants, but Reba would never ever take advantage of that. She'll always agree to work longer hours during vacation season and employee illnesses, even at the chagrin of her family and friends who think she ought to slow the pace a bit.
Reba is my mother. As much trouble as I've managed to give her in my life, I thank God for her everyday. She taught her daughter well and made sure she was well rounded in her life experiences and studies. She taught me about Jesus. She made sure I knew (and still know) that I could always come home. No matter what, I could always come home. That is one incredible foundation.