Margaret Inez Shepherd (Childers)
19 November 1912 - 16 April 1999
Mother always spoke of her early years with warmth and affection for her “Mama" and "Papa” and her
many siblings. She told about the vegetable-canning business they ran at home on Hobson Branch, in
northern Buncombe County, NC, and about the years when the family lived in “Winston” (i.e., Winston-
Salem) where her father found work as a carpenter and oldest sister Bergie worked as a bookkeeper
in a grocery store to help ends meet.
She attended grade school at a small country school on the ridge near where Morgan Hill Baptist
Church now sits and then went on to finish high school at the new Flat Creek School (built in 1926).
After graduation, she worked at Appalachian Hall psychiatric hospital in Asheville as a nursing
assistant. Through that employment, she was recommended for hiring as a nanny, to Mr. and Mrs.
Harrigan of New York City and moved with them to Havana, Cuba, where Mr. Harrigan worked for
Standard Oil Company and she helped Mrs. Harrigan care for their small children in a large house
overlooking Havana Bay. When she later spoke of this time, she would usually note that she ate
dinners with the Harrigan family in their dining room – not with the servants in the kitchen.
Later, with marriage to Roy Childers and the births of us three sons, her earlier skills were called into
service in a big way. She was accomplished at providing cool cloths for fevered brows and a full table
for big appetites (even though she said that, with so many big sisters at home, she never learned to
cook until marriage). Sometimes she would take us foraging for wild greens (creases or poke sallet).
Every now and then she would surprise us with banana pudding, or oatmeal cookies, or pizza, or even
fried oysters (she would always eat one or two raw while cooking, to my amazement). With all of this
(and no dish-washing appliance) she still found time to tend some flowers outside around the house. In
the evening, when there was a chance to sit, she picked up the light-bulb she used as a darning egg
and resumed the interminable task of keeping four males in presentable socks.
In the 1950’s she accomplished her dream of having a new house (including complete indoor
plumbing), with the construction of a fashionable ranch-style house on land purchased a few years
earlier (now Arrowhead Fields Road) in her home community near Piney Mountain Baptist Church in
north Buncombe County. There was still no dishwasher, but the kitchen sink had a wonderful view out
toward the hills and valleys of her birthplace and to the mountains beyond. Mother continued living
there after Daddy died, until she moved to a small assisted-living home at Barnardsville not long
before she died in 1999.
Throughout it all, whether presented by one of us with a barely decipherable sketch or writing, too
many squirrels to be cleaned and cooked for dinner, or an unexpected major life development, she
found the grace to make the best of the situation so that we never doubted her love and trust.
- Dwight Childers (September, 2005; revised 4 Jan 2009)