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Success:  A Family Thing – The Rucker Family Story Part II



As Benjamin and I began high school, our parents purchased encyclopedias and dictionaries for us. Daddy kept his college textbooks which provided us with additional reference material. We were financially poor but there was never a shortage of books or reading material in our home.

During our high school years, Daddy who was especially good at math supplemented his income by preparing other people’s income taxes during tax season. He had taught me to do fractions in elementary school and now as high school students, he often quizzed us. His favorite question was “What is the hypotenuse of a triangle?”  Of course, after a while we were able to answer that question by rote. Later, we were even able to recite the formula for determining the length.

In 1963 our family was completed with the birth of Jonathan, our youngest brother. By this time Benjamin and I had already set our goals for future careers. He had decided that he wanted to be a doctor and I had decided to be his nurse. Walt and Bobbie were students at Fair Street Elementary School.

Our teachers at Fair Street and E.E. Butler High School were instrumental in motivating us to achieve to our full potential. I recall being in a couple of math classes taught by Mrs. Ivey Hughey with my brother, Benjamin. Although we sat in the same classes, we did not study or do homework together.  We never shared our homework. We were always too proud and too competitive to ever do that. Benjamin was always a better math student than I and consequently, made better grades.

Our parents did not have a lot of money but if we needed school supplies they were willing to sacrifice to see that we got them. Once, my sister Bobbie had a science project to do. She chose to do a project that involved the reproduction of hamsters. This project required not only the cost of the hamsters but their cage and other supplies as well. The project was somewhat expensive. Nevertheless, our mother somehow managed to purchase the hamsters, the cage, and all of the other necessary supplies out of her meager household budget.

Our parents’ rules of mandatory school attendance and completing homework assignments were enforced throughout high school. Unless we were really sick, we attended school daily as was evidenced by the large number of perfect attendance certificates we received throughout those years. Momma and Daddy did a good job of indoctrinating us with the idea that education was the path to upward mobility.

Both parents instilled a solid work ethic in us. While we were in high school, Daddy worked at J.D. Jewell’s Poultry and Momma worked in the laboratory at Hall County Hospital. Later, after Benjamin and I entered college, Momma too worked at J. D. Jewell. Upon reaching the age of fourteen, we obtained jobs. Bobbie and I began working as domestics, ironing and cleaning in private homes. Benjamin’s first jobs were doing yard work on Green Street and washing dishes in the dining room at Hall County Hospital (now Northeast Georgia Medical Center). Walter also did yard work on Green Street. When we reached the age of sixteen, we began working on public jobs during summer vacations. I worked at the hosiery mill as a dye boarder. My sister Bobbie worked with my mother in the cut-up department of J. D. Jewell’s. Daddy got jobs for all of my brothers at J.D. Jewell’s from the time that they turned sixteen until they finished school. They didn’t have to fill out an application. Every summer their jobs awaited them. They worked on the live dock hanging live chickens. This was the filthiest job in the plant. Our daddy would tell them; “If you don’t go to school, this is what you will be doing for the rest of your life.” My brothers very eagerly returned to school each year. We bought school clothes and supplies with our earnings. Later, we used our money to help pay college tuition and other expenses.

I graduated from E. E. Butler High School with honor on my birthday, June 6, 1966. My parents suggested that I attend Gainesville Jr. College (now the University of North Georgia, Gainesville campus) which was scheduled to open in the fall of 1966. I honored their wishes and enrolled in the college in the fall of 1966. I became the first African-American student to graduate from Gainesville Jr. College in June, 1968. During the two years I spent at Gainesville Jr. College, I changed my major to Education. I was accepted and enrolled in classes at the University of Georgia in the fall of 1968. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Education from UGA in June, 1970.  I was immediately hired by the Gainesville City School System where I taught for 30+ years. While teaching at Fair Street School, I earned a Master’s degree in Education from North Georgia College (now the University of North Georgia, Dahlonega campus). I am currently retired.

My brother Benjamin graduated from E.E. Butler High School in June, 1967 as class valedictorian. He enrolled in Gainesville Jr. College in the fall of 1967 and graduated in June, 1969. He transferred to the University of Georgia and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in June, 1971. He entered the Medical College of Georgia in the fall of 1971. In June, 1975 he fulfilled his childhood dream by receiving his degree as a doctor of medicine. After a year of internship and two years of residency at Talmadge Memorial Hospital, Benjamin joined the Medical College faculty for two years. In July of 1980, he began a private practice of 36 years duration. He is presently semi-retired.

My sister, Bobbie graduated from Gainesville High School in June, 1970. She too attended Gainesville Jr. College. She also studied accounting at Lanier Tech. Bobbie worked for Commercial Credit for two and a half years. She then worked for Liberty Mutual Insurance for 31 years. Bobbie enrolled in a number of insurance courses during her tenure at Liberty Mutual. She obtained an Associate in Principals of insurance (AIS) degree and became a Property Rater Specialist. In 2013, she officially retired from Liberty Mutual and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Walden University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Health Sciences. She currently volunteers as a Medicare Counselor with Georgia Cares at Legacy Link in Oakwood, Georgia.

Walter (Walt) graduated from Gainesville High School in 1973. Walt enrolled in courses at Gainesville College and transferred to Savannah State College. He graduated from Savannah State with a Bachelor’s degree in 1978. Walt was accepted and entered the University of Georgia, School of Law in 1979. He graduated from law school and passed the Georgia State Bar Exam in 1982. Shortly thereafter he began practicing with Thurmond, Thurmond and Miller of Athens, Georgia. In 1992, he partnered with Curtis Miller to bring his practice to Gainesville. Walt established his own law practice of Rucker and Associates in 1994. He continues to practice law in Gainesville, Georgia.

Jonathan, our youngest brother was an honor graduate of the Class of 1982 of Gainesville High School. He entered the Georgia School of Technology (GA Tech) in the fall of 1982 and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Jonathan began his career with Atlanta Gas Light Company. Other companies he has been employed by include CH2M Hill, Khafra Engineering, Jordan, Jones, and Goulding and AECOM. In 2008, Jonathan established his own engineering consulting company, Engineered Systems and Services. He is registered as a professional certified engineer in the states of Georgia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio. Jonathan’s business is thriving and he has been able to hire several employees in recent years.

The third and fourth generations appear to be following in the footsteps of the second and continuing the legacy of the first generation. Thus far all of our children have completed high school as scheduled. They have chosen to engage in a wide range of careers including medical assistant, computer technology, business informatics, banking and finance, and teaching. In addition, Erika Rucker is pursuing a medical degree at the Medical College of Georgia; Jasmine Rucker graduated from Hampton Institute and is enrolled in law school in North Carolina and Nicholous Benjamin Tyler Rucker graduated from Cabarrus County High School in North Carolina as the valedictorian of his 2016 Class of 300+ students. He and his first cousin Alyssa Archey who also graduated high school with honors are presently attending college.

I believe that “Mr. Bennie” who died in 1996 and “Miss Johnnie” who died in 1989 would be delighted with and proud of the success of the family that they worked so diligently to rear, nurture and support.



Fair Street-Butler High Schools Alumni Association, Inc.

2017-2019 Organization

CBO & President———————————-John W. Harris 

Vice Chairman—————————Bobby Ray Stephens 

Vice President———————————-Frank Sims 

Chief Financial Officer————————–Nathaniel Shelton 

Chief Operating Officer————————–Theresa Anderson Puryear 

Executive Director———————–Deborah Keith Mack 

Director of Public Relations———————————–Dorothy Lipscomb Weaver 

Director of Membership & Events Registration—————————-Bernice Harbin Wimpye

Director of Religious & Spiritual Enrichment—————————-Rev. J. Douglas Childers

Spiritual & Religious Coordinators————————————Rev. Eugene Whelchel, Rev. Linda Littlejohn Jackson 

Corporate Secretary————————————————————Peggye Robertson Davenport

Recording Secretary………………………………………………………………………. Phyllis Morrison Edmonds

Protector of History, Legacy & Memorabilia———————————-Linda Rucker Hutchens     
Director of Scholarship and Education ……………..James E. Wimpye                               
 Scholarship Coordinators——————————————————–Bernice Harbin Wimpye, Joanne Ramsey
Event Coordinators————————– Mary Moon Glenn, Patience Lyles Jackson, Cynthia Randolph, Pete Weaver & Teresa Wilder

 Class Ambassadors (AKA Class Coordinators)

Classes before 1962……………………………………………………..Bobby Ray Stephens

Class of 1962…………………………………………………………….. Ray Morris, Carlton Brown

Class of 1963……………………………………………………………..Larry Castleberry

Class of 1964……………………………………………………………..Lovie C. Smith

Class of 1965……………………………………………………………… Jerry Castleberry, Dr. Mary Moorehead Cannon, Linda Williams Montgomery

Class of 1966……………………………………………………………….Linda Rucker Hutchins

Class of 1967……………………………………………………………….Rev. Eugene Whelchel

Class of 1968……………………………………………………………….Linda Carruth, Peggye Robinson Davenport

Class of 1969……………………………………………………………….Eugene Brown

Classes after 1969…………………………………………………………Sharon Jackson Bullock, Kimberly Summerour Paul

Scholarship Awards: Your efforts at work




Each year, The Fair Street-Butler High Schools Alumni Association, Inc. awards two scholarships to Gainesville-Hall County seniors, who will continue their education or training post high school. We strive to select young people who reflect the reflect and enhance the legacy of our community. Joanne Ramsey, a retired educator, has chaired this committee since its inception. James Wimpye now leads this effort, supported by his wife Bernice Harbin Wimpye, Joanne Ramsey and Theresa Anderson Puryear. Our goal is to increase the number and amount of these awards. We need your help and support to do so. Promoting education is one, if not THE primary objective in Preserving our Legacy while Preparing for our future. Our young people embody that future.

For 2018, FSBHSAA, Inc. is thrilled and proud to award Tyrone Goss, Jr, and Rentavious Buffington, each a $1,000.00 academic scholarship. May the graduates continue to strive for excellence and flourish in their God-given talents.

Rentavious Buffington, a senior at Gainesville High School, is the son of Tonika Camp and Quincy Buffington. Through high school, he has been involved in many clubs such as A.W.A.R.E Leadership Team, GHS Theatre Troupe Secretary, as well as being the shift leader at Chick-Fil-A. On top of being active in school, he has maintained a 3.5 GPA and honors such as being elected as a GA State Thespian Officer. Within his four years as a student at Gainesville High School he has been selected as Student of the Year twice (2015/2017). After Graduation, Rentavious will study at the Young American School of the Arts in California. One said, “It is my strong belief that Rentavious will flourish in the college setting and will make many positive contributions to his community as a scholar, citizen and role model for future generations.”

Tyron Goss Jr, a senior at Gainesville High School, is the son of Syretta Goss. During his enrollment, Tyron has been active with many clubs and activities, such as tennis and singing in the gospel choir. Tyrone has not only achieved Straight an Honor Roll but also maintained perfect attendance since 2004. His perfect attendance and involvement contribute to his 3.6 GPA that completely reflects his work ethic. After graduation, Tyrone plans to attend college. He has been accepted into Fort Valley State University. In college, Tyrone intends to major in Physical Education. Tyrone is described to be, “a compassionate, respectful, thoughtful, and intelligent young man.”

Join us in congratulating these two young men knowing they will succeed and contribute much.

High School Blues By Rev. Dr. J. Douglas Childers





In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul writes, “Let all bitterness and
wrath, and anger, and clamor and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice
(Ephesian 4:31).”
Most of us will agree high school is a high water-mark in the progression of our lives.
As a student studies, encounters social relationships and participates in sports they are
better prepared to become productive citizens, but an immature emotional student
cripples their goal of acquiring significant growth. Petty rivalries between students lead to
the development of irrational conflict. It creates what I would call the high school blues.
High School most certainly is a time when individual personalities can clash. For
example, on a high school football team, two young players compete for the highly sought

after quarterback position; however, only one player can win the prize. The
the announcement of a winner can have negative results as emotions arise from the youth
who becomes angry and jealous of his rival.
Another example is that of two female students with an infatuation of the same young
man. He shows little interest to either one of them and conflict finds its way into the lives
of the three.
Unresolved issues allow anger and negative emotions to develop, that inhibits the
ability to forgive. Without forgiveness, unforgiveness turns into emotional stress. An
individual can best achieve spiritual growth when they are willing to face their challenges.
It may not be comfortable to stand before one with whom you have a problem and ask for
forgiveness, but trying to avoid the pain by walking away makes you the loser.
We struggle with forgiveness because we want to avoid pain, but in this season of the
The Christian year, it is helpful if we remember that Jesus not only died on a cross, he
embraced His divine objective by carrying his cross to the place of his crucifixion, and
then He died on the cross. Christians believe Jesus resurrected from the dead. I think the
same Holy Spirit that resurrected Jesus can empower you and me to rise above petty
issues that otherwise would hold us shackled to emotional, psychological and sociological
Twenty or thirty perhaps even forty years from now, if one’s anger has not subsided
and forgiveness remains unaccounted for, the venom of unforgiveness can reap havoc
and destruction to anyone who refuses to forgive. Unforgiveness is dangerous because of the
the person who welcomes unforgiveness prevents themselves from fully developing into the
person God desires for them to become.
Conflict arises from opposing agendas. Several years ago, when my daughters were
little girls, I carried one of them to the Pediatrician to be treated for a severe Cold. At
that time, the doctor’s office had toys on the floor in the waiting area, and though sick
some of the children tried playing with these toys. I watched as two children had to find a
way to avoid selfishness as they played with these toys. I don’t know how they did it, but
the children worked it out. They resolved their differences without intervention from
adults. The Bible says “Out of the mouth of babes, and sucklings hast thou ordained
strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger
(Psalm 8:2).”
It is unfortunate, but some of us–who are very grown, have not found the ability to
offer forgiveness. Instead, some hold on to old stuff for so many years that have gone
but in essence, this holding on causes us to hold ourselves in captivity. Full maturity
comes when we can relate such juvenile behavior in contrast to the words Paul wrote in
his letter to the church of Ephesus and “Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger, and
clamor and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice (Ephesian 4:31).”
Have you witnessed behavior like this? Was it a friend who won’t come to the Reunion
because of an incident in the 8th grade? Was it you? Life is too short to be controlled by
the past.

Success is All in the Family: The Rucker Family Story





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:

  1. God our Creator, who through His grace blessed us with certain academic abilities and


  1. A non-negotiable set of morals and values instilled in us by parents who loved and supported us.
  2. 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.

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