The union of Benjamin (“Mr. Bennie”) and Johnnie (“Miss Johnnie”) Lucille Deadwyler Rucker produced five children who thrived against all odds in five different fields. I, Linda Delores, the oldest retired after three decades of helping our children succeed. My siblings are Benjamin Lavar, a prominent Augusta physician; Bobbie Jean, a summa cum laude Psychology/ Health Sciences graduate and insurance career retiree; Walter James, a highly respected Gainesville attorney; Jonathan Lowell, a Georgia Tech trained engineer and owner of an Engineering Consultancy.
I have often been asked why and how we were able to excel. Since I have been asked to write an article, this is a summary of our story of success.
I believe that our accomplishments can be attributed to the following basic factors:
- God our Creator, who through His grace blessed us with certain academic abilities and
- A non-negotiable set of morals and values instilled in us by parents who loved and supported us.
- A home, school and community environment which nurtured, developed and promoted our talents and abilities.
This article explains how God, our parents, and our community brought us this far.
None of us can create ourselves or select our parents. Therefore, we cannot take credit for any of the attributes, talents or abilities we possess. It is true that we often inherit various traits from our parents, but they too were created beings and not the original creator of life. We were blessed with academic abilities and good parents. We are grateful and thank God for both blessings.
Both of our parents graduated from Fair Street High School. Daddy graduated as the valedictorian of his 1940 class. Our mom graduated in 1946. Both had their aspirations of attaining higher educations interrupted by life. Like many young men, Daddy served in the Pacific during World War II. Upon being discharged, he enrolled in Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia through the G.I. Bill as a business major. Momma’s secretarial training at National Business College in Nashville, Tennessee was cut short as she returned to care for her ill mother… So when my future daddy returned from Morehouse, he and my future momma met, fell in love and married in 1947. Daddy returned to Morehouse as a sophomore. As fate stepped in, I was born on June 6, 1948. My paternal grandmother became ill and my dad gave up his Morehouse dream and a college degree to support and provide for his new family.
Yet, a great foundation was laid for that family’s future. Although our parents put aside their career dreams, they began to pass those dreams and expectations on to us, their children. One of my first memories as a child of three is of my father saying, “My girls will go to Spelman and my boys will go to Morehouse.” Dr. Benjamin Mays, then president of Morehouse College had made an indelible impression on daddy and he sometimes quoted and talked about him. It is ironic that all of us graduated from college, but none of us ever attended Morehouse or Spelman.
Daddy and Momma had a few ironclad rules. One of these rules was that if you remained in their household or under their roof, you would finish high school. You would not be given a choice. They also made it clear that their preference was for you to attend college following high school. They did not demand that you attend college, but they made sure to plant the seeds of expectations deeply within us.
I don’t ever remember Momma or Daddy ever discussing how we would pay for college educations. As children, we were naïve enough to believe that if they said we could and would go to college, then we could and would go. Although our parents didn’t always attend their membership churches regularly, they were believers and had faith in God. Momma always said, “The Lord will make a way.”
In 1952, when we were small children and Green Hunter Homes (Atlanta Street Projects) were new, we lived in them. We attended Green Hunter Nursery. Mrs. Imogene Morrow Scott, Mrs. Margaret Greenlee, and others provided us with a good pre-school education. Our mom supplemented what we learned in nursery school by frequently telling us stories as she prepared our dinner and reading to us from “Little Golden Books”. The children of the family that momma worked for often passed their books on to us. We also received books as Christmas gifts.
By 1958, we had lived in several areas: Athens Highway (out the road), High Street, Lula, and finally Cloverdale Street in Newtown. As we grew older, we observed our parents modeling behavior which reflected their attitudes toward learning and education. Both of our parents were avid readers. Daddy always subscribed to the “Daily Times”. In addition, he often sent us on errands to the store to buy a copy of the “Atlanta Journal-Constitution”. Paperback books were abundant in our home. As a result, Bobbie Jean and I developed a love for books. During summer vacations, one of our favorite places to visit was the McCrary Branch of the Hall County Library. Miss McCrary and Mrs. Ella Rucker always encouraged us and we often received “Summer Reading Certificates”. One of Momma’s favorite past-times was to complete the newspaper’s crossword puzzle. She seldom left one incomplete.
We were blessed with parents who sacrificed for us and planted a seed in us. Join us for the next edition, as Benjamin and I begin High School.