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Fellow educators remember life, legacy of Ms. Christian

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Barbara Christian and her friends Cathy Beadle, Cindy Presley, Linda Davidson and Kim Hurley take a walk in Central Park on a trip to New York City in December. Photo courtesy of Kim Hurley

Longtime Wilson County educator Barbara Christian, 66, passed away Tuesday, March 15. Funeral services have been set for 3:30 p.m. Friday, Marth 18, at Immanuel Baptist Church with Pastor John Hunn officiating. Interment will follow in Wilson County Memorial Gardens.

Christian taught the 2nd Grade at Southside Elementary School in Lebanon for more than 40 years before officially retiring at the completion of the 2014 school year. Hired in 1973, Christian, who earned her Associate's Degree from Cumberland University and Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Tennessee Tech, stayed at Southside her entire career because it was a "family."

"I had great friends and we had some great leadership there," Christian told The Wilson Post in an August 2015 Woman of Wilson interview. "Everyone just cared about each other and about the students. I had offers to leave, but I didn't want to leave."

Friends at Southside said they kept up with Christian following her retirement. Many last saw her at Christian's annual Christmas party for educators, which she hosted at her home this past December.

Many commented that Christian "loved" to entertain - and could always be counted on to throw the best baby showers and bridal teas. She also loved to help those in need.

"If somebody needed something, she would let us know the needs," said Southside Principal Clint Dennison. "She just had a giving spirit and unconditional love for everyone."

School counselor Linda Crutcher remembered Christian reaching out to her when Crutcher was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in September. Crutcher received treatment in Atlanta, Georgia, and said Christian would bake her treats for the journey.

"She was an excellent cook," Crutcher said. "She fixed me banana bread for my first trip to Atlanta. She said this is a journey we will do together. We all miss her, but we were blessed to know her."

Dennison said Christian's legacy will live on at Southside. "When you talk about Barbara - you are talking about Southside," he commented.

In an interview before passing away, Christian said that she taught by the four L's. "I said if they were looking at me, they were listening. If they were listening, they were learning. But the most important L is that they loved each other," she said. Not only did her students feel loved, Christian made sure they felt special.

Each student was allowed a "Special Week" during the school year and given the opportunity to bring family photos, snacks and items for show-and-tell.

Fellow teachers Cindy Presley, Linda Davidson, Kim Hurley and Cathy Beadle took a "girls trip" with Christian to New York City in December. It was the last time they would travel together.

Davidson and Hurley said a highlight of the trip was seeing The Carole King musical on Broadway.

"Barbara loved theatre and musicals. Anytime something would come to TPAC she would get us front row seats," said Davidson.

Christian will also be remembered as a woman of great faith.

She formerly taught Sunday School for 13 years at First Baptist Church and has been an active member of Immanuel Baptist for the last 10 years.

"Her faith was powerful," Crutcher added. "She was always smiling, always very uplifting - and she impacted her students by praying for them."

Christian is survived by her fiancé, Gary Maggart; brothers, Jim (Merle) Winfree and Terry (Olivia) Winfree; nieces, Lisa (Donald) Gann and Jennie (Jason) Burton; nephews, Brian Winfree, Justin Winfree and Corey (Cari) Winfree; great-nephews, Alex Gann, Case Burton and Gavin Winfree; great-niece, Abby Gann; friends and sister-in-love, Faye Gwynn Sittig and Diane Davis.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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Barbara Christian, cancer, death, obituary, remembered, services, Southside Elementary, teacher
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