Janice Beavon Gravely – Comes to Jesus Not as a Stranger, but as a Friend

One of the loveliest things about a friendship with Jane Gravely has been the gift of her mother. I took this sweet photograph of Janice Gravely at the 2019 Hall of Fame Banquet. She was 98 years old. We had a special few minutes alone, holding hands and quietly talking. To me, she was the essence of the verse in the Epistle to the Galatians. In her face, I always saw what we call the fruits of the spirit. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” She confirmed what I believe, that nothing in our lives is wasted. It is all necessary to whom we become. This remembrance can not include the depth and breadth of her life, but it is offered up with love and admiration for a well-lived life. 

The young girl in me, that read adventure stories, was drawn to her airplane story of heroism, bravery, and faith. It is a story of loss and over-coming. Of the ability to draw from an interior life when needed. September 1, 2019, Mary Speidel wrote:

“Janice Gravely sang this song – based on Psalm 17:8 – at the top of her voice inside the cockpit of a single-engine plane as her husband, Edmund, slumped unconscious in the pilot’s seat next to her. She’d flown as a passenger with Edmund, a former Navy aviator and flight instructor, plenty of times, but Janice had no training as a pilot. She suddenly finds herself behind the controls of her husband’s aircraft. “I had a choice,” recalls Janice of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. “I could either be afraid of what was going to happen to both of us, or I could trust God. It was a life or death matter; I trusted God.” Praying fervently, she broke out in song, remembering words to a song she’d learned only the day before. She especially leaned into the words, “Keep Your hand upon me lest I die.” Despite high winds, Janice managed to keep the plane airborne for the next two hours. Then just as the fuel ran out, she crash-landed the plane in a field near Henderson, North Carolina.

I have written about the Hall of Fame Portraits where in my imagination, when the lights dim, and everyone is gone, those who are gone, have fascinating conversations, there is music; a coming together of talent, leadership, wisdom, humor, patrioticm and faithful people who have been the wind under Rocky Mount’s wings. Janice is now part of these conversations. Here is the photo and write up in the Hall of Fame banquet program when she was inducted in the Class of 2017. 

Navy veterans of World War II, Janice and her husband, Edmund, married in 1944, settled in Rocky Mount and raised four children. Janice made international news in 1982 landing an airplane after her pilot husband died in flight. The New York Times and the FAA attribute that feat to a miracle of God.She began writing and speaking to groups here and abroad. Her books include Won’t Somebody Help Me! and Ground Level Christianity.

A native of California, Janice graduated from UCLA with a degree in history and later attended UNC-Chapel Hill earning her teaching credentials. A prolific painter, she has painted almost all over the world, has had five solo art shows, and has been featured in the NC Museum of Art.

Janice is a member of the Colonial Dames of the Seventeenth Century. As Girl Scout Troop Leader for eight years, she received a commendation from President Jimmy Carter for having the first Girl Scout troop to successfully complete the Boy Scout dead-reckoning trail at Valley Forge. As a member of the Rocky Mount Junior Guild for fifty years, she served as president and held other offices. She has served on the Rocky Mount School board, the Rocky Mount Christian Women’s Club, and the local PTA board.

She is a sustaining force for the National Day of Prayer activities for Rocky Mount augmenting those activities with the one day Public Bible Reading Aloud which has increased from ninety readers in 2013 locally to over one thousand readers locally, in other NC cities, other states and other nations. She was a Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday School and singing in the choir. She was president of the United Methodist Women and served on the administrative board for the First United Methodist Church in Rocky Mount.

Janice has contributed to her country through her military service and to her state and community through civic and church organizations. She has shared her talents with writing and her paintings. She has lived a life of honor, integrity, and excellence and credits it to her active Christian life.

This post is written for fellow Hall of Fame Board Members, friends, Jane Gravely & Lanny Shuff, and for all those who celebrate the life of Janice Gravely. Photos: Stepheny and Jane, Peter Varney and Lanny Shuff

From the burial service in the Episcopal Prayer Book:                                                                                                           

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking, he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.
I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.

In Case You Missed the article In The Telegram Published On Nov. 25,’18

Sunday, November 25, 2018 – Rocky Mount Telegram                                          From Contributed Reports

Twin County Hall of Fame Welcomes New Inductees

Lanny Shuff left, and Sam Toler hold Toler’s portrait during the Twin County Hall of Fame Induction Banquet at the Rocky Mount Event Center.

The 15th annual Twin County Hall of Fame Induction Banquet was many things this year — not only a celebration of 12 new inductees but a revival meeting, a fashion show, a reunion of friends, family and supporters and a remembering of those gone before us that helped form who we have become — our parents, mentors, coaches, educators and friends.
The banquet was a first at the new, spectacular Rocky Mount Event Center where rooms Edgecombe 1, 2 and 3 can be opened to seat a large gathering. Everyone was appreciative of the chef back in the kitchen preparing food for a small, intimate dinner party of 500 people, who were served a delicious meal of salad, steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, and small cheesecake desserts.

This was a history-making occasion with an audience filled to capacity since the Induction Banquets began and the first catered event in the Event Center. Golden Platter Milton Bulluck, a 2006 inductee, entertained the audience with several signature songs.
Framed portraits honoring the lives, leadership and careers of the class of 2018 Inductees were presented in honor of Dr. Robert and Rev. Carolyn Barbe, Dr. Newsom Pittman Battle and Dr. Margaret White Battle, James Erastus Batts, Dr. Charles Marshall Coats, Janice Beavon Gravely, Janice Bryant Howroyd, Robert ‘Bob’ Melton, Lt. Col. James A. Mercer. Betsy Buckley, and Samuel A. “Sam” Toler. In addition, Kimberly Kyser accepted on behalf of her father, musician Kay Kyser, who was inducted in the class of 2004.

A life of service and leadership with the underpinnings of education, discipline, responsibility, perseverance and strong parenting was the reoccurring theme throughout the inductees’ stories. The acknowledgment that faith, prayer and the church strengthened the lives of these outstanding citizens was evident.

No one in attendance will soon forget the quiet, sweet voice of inductee Janice Bryant Howroyd when accepting her award while singing the hymn her mother taught her: “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. I know his eye is on the sparrow, I know he watches over me.”

At the end of the evening, there was a collaborative sigh of thanksgiving for the inductees, the success of the occasion and the amazing guests. There was even a shout from within the Event Center: “We Did it!”
They certainly did.

SFH with an additional Comment: When I went off to the University of Kentucky, I intended to major in Journalism, but my Freshman Advisor was the head of the Sociology Department and one thing led to another. The closest I got to0 that original dream was selling advertising for a weekly newspaper called The Country Gentleman in Crestwood Ky. When Lanny Shuff asked me to write this piece for the Telegram it brought a smile. You know the expression having your day in court, well, I had my day writing for a newspaper. It was fun.  

An Invitation for Dinner on November 8th With 12 Interesting Guests

Did you ever play the game ‘dinner party’ where you named your guest list from famous people? I always thought it revealed interesting things about my friends as they named their list. I dare say you will know more about me if I tell you I would invite – Coach K, Roger Federer, Amos Townes the author of A Gentleman in Moscow, Newt Gingrich,  English gardener and writer, Beverley Nichols, singer Michael Boule, and Senator, Susan Collins, who recently gave an historic speech on the floor of the Senate.

You are invited and have a wonderful opportunity to have dinner with the class of 2018 inductees for the Twin County Hall of Fame. This year’s class includes an author and painter, an educator, the ‘King of ‘Barbecue, two groundbreaking female business owners, two married couples of medical doctors, a veterinarian, a 30-year Little League Coach, and a military and public safety officer. The inductees come from both Edgecombe and Nash Counties.  Six are living and six will be inducted posthumously.

Dr. Robert Barbe and Rev. Carolyn Barbe
Dr. Newsom Pittman Battle and Dr. Margaret White Battle
James Erastus Batts
Dr. Charles Marshall Coats
Janice Beavon Gravely
Janice Bryant Howroyd
Lt. Col. James Mercer, US Army (Ret.)
Robert “Bob” Melton
Betsy B. Strandberg
Samuel A. Toler

 

The event is being held at the new Rocky Mount Event Center, which is an amazing venue for a wonderful occasion like this. We are among the first guests and I guarantee you will be wowed by this new public building. Come and honor those who lived their lives making a difference in the community and thank those who are still with us for their leadership today. Your ticket not only helps pay for your dinner but acts as a fundraiser, a much-appreciated contribution towards the framed portraits that are given to the inductees and a fund that one day will help purchase a permanent space for the Twin County Hall of Fame. Your support for this annual event is appreciated! Looking forward to seeing you there.

5:30 p.m. Registration and Social, 6:15 p.m. Dinner, 7:00 p.m. Program

CLICK HERE TO FIND A REGISTRATION FORM FOR THIS EVENT 

YOU CAN PAY BY MAIL OR ONLINE

Twin County Hall of Fame Museum – After the Lights Go Out!

How long has it been since you’ve thought about Johnny Gruelle’s famous Raggedy Ann & Andy stories?  Visiting the Twin County Hall of Fame Museum with Jane Gravely and Lanny Shuff, I wasn’t fooled for a minute. The framed smiling faces of the Inductees were quiet as I gazed at them, but at the end of the day, when the lights are turned off and the last person’s footsteps fade away, you will never convince me otherwise,  the Museum Dance begins. Gathered in one place are the most interesting, highly respected, gifted and civic-minded citizens of Nash & Edgecombe Counties. Wouldn’t you love to listen to the nightly reminiscences of the times in which they lived and greatly influenced? Here are the history makers, the businessmen, and woman, sports figures, the musicians — imagine the music! Think of the educators and the political debates. Think of the privileged living members of The Hall of Fame, allowed to draw from the wisdom and advice of those who have gone before. Can you think of any company you keep more prestigious than these wonderful people?

You MUST visit The Twin County Museum and Hall of Fame to mingle with these amazing people. The Museum is currently located on the first floor of the historic train station in downtown Rocky Mount. Its purpose is to preserve the history of the Twin Counties and recognize and honor the citizens of Edgecombe and Nash Counties. Those who have made broad and lasting contributions to the betterment of the community or who have brought recognition to the community through their accomplishments. When you visit, don’t expect to hear this august group talking, that only happens after the lights go out.

Raggedy Andy did not speak all day, but he smiled pleasantly to all the other dolls. There was Raggedy Ann, the French doll, the little Dutch doll, the tin soldier, Uncle Clem and a few others…Marcella had played in the nursery all day and of course, they did not speak in front of her…But as soon as she left the room all the dolls sat up in their beds. When their little mistress’ footsteps passed out of hearing, all the dollies jumped out of their beds and gathered around Raggedy Andy…The Dutch doll dragged the little square music box out into the center of the room and wound it up. Then all, holding hands, danced in a circle around it, laughing and shouting in their tiny doll voices.