Lillie Mae Dodd has been shaping character and making a difference in the lives of children, youths and adults in Sunday school since she was eleven years old.
She credits her childhood principal, Ethel Belcher, for leading her into church ministry.
"If you didn't go to church on Sunday, Ms. Belcher got you up on stage and you had to tell in front of everybody why you didn't go," she said. "So I went and took my two brothers."
Dodd recalled how Belcher put her to work in the primary department at Julia Porter United Methodist Church in Porterdale.
"I have been working in church ever since," she added.
Born in 1918 in Fulton County, Dodd's family lived in Porterdale. Her mother died in child birth when she was six years old.
Dodd's countenance glowed as she talked about growing up in Porterdale.
"My teacher encouraged me and told me I could be a writer," she said.
Dodd wrote an essay on poet Sidney Lanier and won a trip to the mountains.
"My dad wouldn't let me go," she said regrettably.
At age 15, Dodd went to work at the Welaunee Mill. For the first two weeks, she worked 12-hour shifts until President Roosevelt changed the work day to eight hours. Dodd also worked at the Osprey and Porterdale Mill running winders and spoolers.
In 1936, after four dates, she married Clyde Dodd, the only boy she ever dated. Their son Richard, a financial manager, lives in Covington and their daughter Donna lives in Cartersville.
After moving to Covington, Dodd owned and operated Dodd's Beauty Shop for 25 years and later worked as a clerk at Cohen's until her husband became ill.
Holding a portrait of five generations, Dodd boasted to having three grandchildren, Jeannie, Denise and Alan; three great grandchildren, Elizabeth, Jennifer and Alex; and two great-great grandchildren, Anna Lillie and Daniel.
Since attending LoveJoy United Methodist Church in 1955, she has taught the Methodist Youth Fellowship and the Young Adult class and two future preachers, Frankie Bernat and Terry Reed. Until recently, she taught the Senior Class every fourth Sunday. Dodd has served on the church board, and held the position of Commissioner of Missions and Education.
At 75 Dodd earned her GED in 1995. Governor Zell Miller and Commissioner Kenneth Breeden presented her with the GED Golden Eagle Award for being aGED Recipient over the age of 70. After delivering the valedictorian address, she stood on stage as young men from the 200 member class kissed her hand as they passed by.
Dodd attributes her youthful appearance to staying busy. Her handiwork of crocheted items and pots of thriving violets are visible throughout her home. Dodd took piano lessons for one year and borrowed a guitar and took lessons for six weeks. She accurately portrayed Minnie Pearl in a play with the Senior Services at the Newton County Recreation Commission.
Dodd spoke about her first plane trip to Cuba when Castro was coming into power. Her visit abruptly ended when Castro told all the visitors to leave. Her daughter and son-in-law were stationed there during the birth of her first grandchild. Dodd was inspired to submit an article to the Readers Digest about her travel to Cuba, but it was returned.
Dodd has enjoyed traveling with friends to Europe, Mexico and on cruises. Because of her love for history, she longs to visit Egypt and see the pyramids.
When asked about the change she has seen in the family unit, Dodd replied, "Mothers are not like they used to be. We used to have our children in the bed at dark and we knew where they were all the time. We didn't let them ride up and down the road."
Dodd offers this advice, "I would tell mothers to get up on Sunday morning and get her children in church - even if her husband wouldn't go."