Alzheimer’s Association remembers volunteer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2007

SEDLEY—A volunteer for the local branch of the Alzheimer’s Association is being honored for her dedication to helping find a cure for the disease.

A new team was formed for Estelle Bittle of Sedley, who passed away from heart disease in December. Estelle’s Hearts is sponsoring a concert by The Sojourners and dessert auction from which proceeds will be donated to the association in her memory.

According to Mary Frances Newsome, chair emeritus of the local branch of the Alzheimer’s Association, Bittle had been an advocate since at least 1997. She was part of one of the two local support groups in the area that began that year.

Bittle’s mother, Eunice McClenny, and at least two of her aunts were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

&uot;Estelle helped with her first Memory Walk in 1998,&uot; said Newsome. &uot;She also worked closely with the national (Alzheimer’s) organization. &uot;She was invited to be in a gene study at John Hopkins in Baltimore.&uot; The Memory Walk is the culminating event of the year for the Association.

Bittle participated in the ongoing study as long as her health allowed.

Newsome said, &uot;She always enjoyed heading up the hearts for our Tree of Hope and took care of that for us until last year.&uot;

Hearts are purchased in honor or in memory of a loved one and hung on the Tree of Hope during the Memory Walk.

&uot;After her mother died, she continued to volunteer,&uot; Newsome recalled. &uot;She even called me when she was in the hospital to make sure her Mama had a heart on the tree.&uot;

Bittle not only won awards for the chapter-like Volunteer of the Year, but also individually brought in the most money one year.

Her husband, Frank, said Estelle was someone people could count on to help out.

&uot;No matter what she already had planned, if Susan [Story, branch manager and Education and Family Services coordinator] called, she’d drop everything,&uot; he said.

&uot;Estelle was a very loving and caring person that enjoyed helping others, especially people who were sick and in need,&uot; he said.

&uot;She was a loving mother, grandmother, and most of all a loving wife and best friend to me. She had a beautiful smile and laughter for everyone she met, especially her co-workers at Hubbard Peanut Co.&uot;

She was a mother to Lisa Draper of Boykins and Laura Kee of Capron.

&uot;She has, and always will be missed by her family and friends in our caring community of Sedley,&uot; Frank said. &uot;We all loved Estelle.&uot;

Estelle was a lifetime member of Sedley Baptist Church, where she was in the choir, and served as secretary of the James Fox Sunday School Class and the Women’s Missionary Union.

Estelle’s brother and sister-in-law, Joe and Margie McClenny, and family expressed their appreciation for having a local benefit in honor of her.

&uot;Our mother was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease, which was tricky to diagnose and there are few known drugs to fight it,&uot; said Joe. &uot;Family members feel helpless and unsure of what course to take for their loved one.

&uot;The Alzheimer’s Association is a welcome source of information and support for families struggling with this disease.

&uot;I know Estelle will be proud of this benefit in her honor,&uot; he said.

Estelle also found time to help the community by being part of the GFWC Sedley Woman’s Club.

The kick-off event for the new team formed in Estelle’s memory will be held Sunday, Aug. 19 at Sedley Baptist Church, 17494 Johnsons Mill Road. The Sojourners concert will be held from 7 to 7:45 p.m. in the sanctuary, with the dessert auction getting under way at 8 p.m. in the fellowship hall. Scott Wood will serve as auctioneer.

Desserts for entry should be brought to the fellowship hall by 6:30 p.m. Duplicate desserts for tasting are encouraged and refreshments will be served during the auction.

Prizes for the desserts that bring in the largest bids are being donated by Tidewater Locksmith Association, and are $100 gift certificate to Wal-Mart for first prize, and $50 and $25 gift certificates to the establishment for second and third prizes, respectively.

For more information, contact Newsome, 569-0604, or Bernadette Whitley, 562-4066.