You can take the girl out of Alabama, but in the case of Melinda Ledford, you can't take the Alabama out of the girl.
This week's Woman of Wilson relocated to Wilson County in 1979 and has made her mark on the community as a longtime educator, devoted wife and mother, caring friend - and yes, a loyal Crimson Tide fan.
Ledford attended Walter J. Baird, Lebanon High School and Middle Tennessee State University.
She met her husband, Jeff Ledford, at Immanuel Baptist Church. They were friends for many years prior to dating. The couple dated four years before marrying on June 28, 1986 - Ledford's junior year of college.
They have now been happily married for nearly 30 years.
Ledford is presently a homemaker, after teaching in the Lebanon Special School District for 21 years.
"As a teacher I have been able to witness their brains learn new skills. Knowing a student has achieved a concept due to the energy they've utilized has always been, for me as a teacher, very rewarding," she said.
Ledford was very involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization. "Working with the various local, state and regional officers along with fund raising and personal sponsorships over the years have allowed multiple students to attend FCA leadership camps each summer," she explained. "Each of these students have returned as an immense blessing to their local community."
The Ledfords have three children: a son, Tanner Ledford, 27; and twin daughters, Ali and Leah Ledford, 22. Tanner is a pilot flying for Republic Airlines, serving American Airlines, US Air and United Airlines. Ali and Leah are recent graduates of MTSU.
Ledford said the most beneficial lesson a mother can pass onto their children is to "respect and love others because you can love what God created in you and others."
When their family isn't at Immanuel Baptist Church, they enjoy spending time with friends on the lake. The Ledfords enjoy surfing, attending wakeboard competitions and cheer events for their children. They also enjoy traveling.
Ledford said they have two four-legged family members as well - a teacup Yorkie named "Lil Bit" and a black Schnauzer "Ruger."
The woman she most admires is her great-grandmother, Vera Carnes.
"(Momma Carnes) set a fantastic example starting over 100 years ago for me to see family values through herself, my grandmother, my mom, aunts and multiple cousins' lives," Ledford said. "She worked a business, ran her home, honored her family deeply, maintained a large garden and lovingly treasured her husband."
Ledford's fondest memories are of annual family gatherings - which continue to inspire her when entertaining family and friends today.
"For several Christmases Momma Carnes would have a small gift for everyone all the way to the third cousin level," she said. "(She) inspired my love and desire to entertain in my home, and to reach out and care for the many great people I was blessed with."
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.