Gaston & Catawba

Saying farewell to a Southern lady

I met Lucy Setzer in 1960 when she, her husband, John, and their three children moved to Winchester, Va., from Gastonia. At the time I had never heard of Gastonia and loved hearing the Setzers talk “Southern.” They said “Hey” instead of “Hi,” which my family found entrancing.

Her daughter Ann and I were both 17 and seniors at Handley High School in Winchester. We became friends, and that's how I came to observe a real Southern lady. Always smiling, Lucy Setzer was a true gentlewoman, kind and hospitable.

Lucy passed away several weeks ago at age 85, and as I sat at her memorial service, I experienced several epiphanies.

The first was the discovery that when I met the Setzer family 48 years ago Lucy was just 37, the same age my older daughter is now. Because Lucy was a mom, I always thought she was middle-aged. More mental arithmetic revealed that I am almost 30 years older today than Lucy was when we met.

I felt I aged a good bit in the pew that morning.

Lucy Setzer was captain of her high school basketball team in Dallas, N.C., and had once been crowned Miss Dallas. The minister described her as supportive and loyal to her family and friends. Any chance she had to see her grandchildren and great-grandchildren was an opportunity she seized.

Shy by nature, Lucy Setzer never pushed herself forward in a crowd but thoroughly enjoyed entertaining with her renowned casseroles.

Granddaughter Susan Cather Tignor spoke for the family in expressing their gratitude for “Mimi” Setzer's life. I could see family members nodding their heads and smiling as she recounted examples of her grandmother's love for each of them.

Lucy Setzer loved to hear hymns and listened to recordings by her bedside when she became too ill to walk. Great-granddaughter and namesake Lucy Tignor, 8, led the congregation in singing “Amazing Grace” to honor her Mimi.

It was a good, good service. We should all hope there will be as many warm memories and happy smiles of remembrance for each of us.

I did tell family members that if I go first I would like someone to stand up and say that I made good casseroles.

It would not necessarily be true, but I really liked the sound of that.