Tom Wingard (1892-1946): “Forever Working”

I never knew my grandfather, George Thomas “Tom” Wingard, Sr. He died eleven years before I was born. I always enjoyed listening to my Dad talk about his father, a man of strong Christian character.

Tom Wingard was born August 26, 1892 at Elmdale, the Wingard family farm in Montgomery County, Alabama.

On December 27, 1922, he married Dorinda Thompson (1894-1980). They met at a church fair. My grandmother baked a pie he liked, and life together began. This picture of my grandmother is from the late 1940s.

Life was hard for my Grandfather and Grandmother, especially during the Great Depression. In 1939 they moved from Montgomery County to Forrest City, Arkansas, my Grandmother’s hometown. My Uncle John provided me this information about his jobs and work ethic:

“I don’t know all the jobs that Daddy had. I know that he worked for the grocery store. If there was meat left in the showcase on Saturday night it was portioned out to all the store workers. I can remember having steak for breakfast some Sunday mornings.

“After the groceries went broke with the depression, Daddy worked for a chicken farm. When that didn’t work out, he and Mama sold sausage. Yes, that is right. He would go to the slaughter house and get pork shoulders. With the meat grinder, turned by hand, they would grind the meat. They had a recipe for adding spices. Then Daddy would take a basket on each arm and go down the street, knocking on doors and selling the sausage. After a time they had regular customers. That was hard work, and they decided to go back to Granddaddy’s [George Franklin Wingard] farm.

“Another attempt at making money was gathering produce and trying to sell it at a farmers’ market. That didn’t last long.

“After five years on the farm we moved to Forrest City, Arkansas. Daddy became the route man for the Moseley’s Steam Laundry. Then he advanced to the position of manager. That lasted for several years, until I had finished my first year in college. We moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas. There he was the manager of Jeter’s Hardware Store. That was his last job. He got cancer while I was in the Navy. Your Daddy [my father] bought a house in West Batesville, Arkansas. When I got out of the Navy our Mama and Daddy and Martha had moved in with your Daddy [my father]. Daddy died a month after I was released from active duty in the Navy.

“Daddy was first of all a farm boy and he loved the farm. He worked as a merchant and was successful when he had the opportunity. He was diligent and very self disciplined in his work. I know. I worked with him in the laundry one summer. And, when we were living on the farm, we all were involved in the work. He was forever working through every season.”

Here Tom Wingard stands with his brother, Murry Buster Wingard (1907-1976):

Neither Tom nor Dorinda Wingard were able to attend college, but they prized education. All three of their children – George, John, and Martha – were graduated from college and received Master degrees.

Tom Wingard died on July 26, 1946 in Batesville, Arkansas.

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