Interview with Janet Huffstetler

Janet Huffstetler was interviewed by Jordan Steinhauser on April 12, 2012.

Janet Huffstetler, 65 when interviewed, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and lived in nearby Belmont until the age of ten. After her father was transferred for work, her family moved to Shelby, North Carolina, where she lived until she graduated from high school. Shelby was a very politically active town so Ms. Huffstetler became involved in politics at a young age. She dated her high school sweetheart and they married while attending college at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Together they had three children. They later divorced and eventually she remarried and divorced her second husband. Ms. Huffstetler left college and worked as a dental assistant to three professors at the UNC School of Dentistry. She has also worked as an office manager at Corley Redfoot architectural firm for the past 24 years. Her passion, however, was working as an academic tutor for the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team, which she did for 15 years. In 2005, her oldest son was killed in an automobile accident, which sent her into a deep depression. Today, she is healthy and enjoying spending time with her two grandchildren and catching up on television shows she was deprived of while working two full time jobs.

On Politics in Shelby, NC

They got young people involved very early in politics in Shelby. It was kind of interesting because it was a stronghold for the Democratic Party and my family was Republican [laughs]. So my dad said, “Don’t ever tell anybody,” and we didn’t. And I stayed pretty true to my dad until John Kennedy came along, and he sort of changed everything for young people because he was so young and so vibrant and wanted young people, wanted to get them involved, so I switched over at that time, and during high school, worked in his campaign. [JS: Wow.] Well, locally. But that was something you did as a teenager in Shelby. You worked in campaigns. You were just getting ready for your future because in Shelby it would be political.

Listen to the audio of Janet’s response about politics.

On the integration of her high school

During her senior year, Janet’s high school integrated with only one black student. This excerpt elaborates on that time:

I felt very sorry for the young man because we only had one that was willing to come. He happened to be the son of a man I had known almost my whole life because he was the sexton of our church and was very active with our youth groups and everything. Everybody loved Ray. We all knew that he was an activist in Civil Rights, but then his son was the first one that would come to the high school. And I was told not to be too nice to him. That really disturbed me, but things were so uneasy and actually it was his father who told me that… He told all of us as a group to be nice to his son, but that we didn’t have to go out of our way and put ourselves in jeopardy. It was a very uneasy time.

Listen to the audio of Janet’s response about integration.

On her mother

My mother influenced me because she did not want me to have a career because she had thought that that had not been the best route for her because in my group of friends, she worked and she couldn’t do the bridge clubs and the social things. She said she didn’t want to but I don’t know, sometimes I think later on she felt like that she had missed something. In fact, she got very upset when I joined the…what is the school club, the Future Teachers of America or something? [laughs] Yeah. And she said, “Oh no, no, no, no! You can’t be! You can’t be a teacher!”

Listen to the audio excerpt about the influence Janet’s mother had on her.

On going back to and finishing college

I look back on that now, it was mainly just to say that I did rather than going for something. You know what I mean? [JS: Mm-hmm.] That part I regret. They just kept saying, “You’ve got to go back. You’ve got to finish. You can’t not do this.” Yet I didn’t have anything in mind. It was just knock out the courses. But that was kind of the way so many of my friends were. It was like we’ve just got to do this and get it over with. That was just not something that we had to worry about. It was mainly just saying that you went to college, finish college, whatever, and that’s sad that we weren’t given that. It wasn’t a good time because it was hard especially with a child and you still had to do everything at home. It was hard. It’s almost like you don’t remember because my heart wasn’t in it. I think I got more of an education when I was tutoring those kids because I was able to really get into the subjects and learn them and do it. I really think my real college education came with 15 years with tutoring.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Janet’s feelings on college.

On the impact of the men of the Basketball Team

For 15 years, Huffstetler worked as an academic tutor for the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team, and here she reflects on the impact they have had in her life:

One of the members on that team hooked up with me on Facebook, or requested to be my friend… [JS: Mm-hmm.] I wrote back, and I said, “I cannot believe you are befriending me on Facebook [laughs]. You remember me!” or something like that. He wrote back and he said, “Miss Janet, not in five lifetimes would I ever forget you, but especially in this one.” I was so touched because I didn’t think he would forget me, but he just wrote back the most poetic thing! I was just taken aback. They have just meant so much. They could come to us and talk to us when they didn’t feel comfortable with coaches, especially with girlfriend problems or things that I never wanted to know about. [JS: laughs] It was nice that they felt that way. I’ve been told more than once that I was the best white-black mother they’ve ever had [laughs].

Listen to the audio of Janet’s response about the UNC Men’s Basketball team.

Interview with Norma White

Norma White was interviewed by Adam Portoghese on April 12, 2012.

Norma White grew up in Reidsville, North Carolina, on a tobacco farm with her mother, father, and sister. Her family employed several African-Americans to work the farm, and Norma grew up in an atmosphere of racial understanding. When integration later came, she needed no time to adjust. She attended Wake Forest University and majored in math. She became a teacher after college, and taught in a number of different locations due to her willingness to follow her husband’s changing career path. Her husband, Alan White, played football in Canada after college, but they soon made their way back to the United States to pursue careers in teaching.  After several more moves throughout the South, Alan became the athletic director at Elon University, and Norma settled into Burlington teaching at Western Alamance High School. She and Alan had a son, who also ended up going to Wake Forest. He is now married and has a child of his own who is now looking at colleges.

On Career Options

Norma spoke of the career possibilities available to women at the time of her graduation from Wake Forest.

You either became a teacher, a social worker, or you could major in business. There were not many options. So I thought, “I will be a teacher, and I am going to stay here. And I will think about nursing later.” I majored in math, and I really had as many hours in science just in case, but I never really thought that I’d have a career. I never really thought I would do that. Because [the way] I grew up, my mother worked in the home, and I just never thought I would do anything. But this was great; I was growing up.

Listen to the audio of Norma’s response about her career choices.

On Teaching

Norma described motivation and passion she found in the teaching.

It was good, challenging. But what I realized was that I loved the students and my subject was just the vehicle to get to work with these students. I would have never been able to if I had not had something to teach them. But my passion was the student. I mean it. I taught the subject because I wanted to do a good a job. I took a lot of pride in what I did and I worked very hard. But at the end of the day it was the student that I just loved. And I keep up with them.

Listen to the audio of Norma’s response about her experiences teaching.

On Values

Norma placed faith as one of the four central themes of her life.

I guess my whole life has been faith: faith in God. I have a strong faith in God, and involvement in my church. My Bible study too. We go to Franklin Street Methodist Church, but the church is a whirl. No matter who I am meeting with we talk about God.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Norma’s faith.

On Humor

From the start it was clear Norma liked to laugh and its value to her daily life.

Humor: You know I have given you four things that I just think in life that just keeps you energized. Finding laughter. Everything is not funny, I know that. But you can get it a way, and [my friend] Jeanne has been a humorist. I see her doing this – finding humor in stressful situations [Laughs], and she can find it. Now there are times in life that everything is not funny, for sure, and that is common sense. But if you just look at things a little differently….

Listen to the audio about humor.

On Tobacco Farming

While at Wake Forest, Norma began to reflect on her family’s livelihood in new ways.

Growing up on the tobacco/vegetable farm, I did not like that. I did not like working in tobacco. I did not think that it was morally good. It was a bad thing. I didn’t know a lot about ethics, but going to Wake Forest I learned a lot of things [Laughing] that we never talked about. But I knew that was how we made money, and it was a good life.

Listen to the audio of Norma’s reflection.

Interview with Ann Reynolds

Ann Reynolds was interviewed by Sarah Graves on November 3, 2010.

Ann Reynolds grew up in a Christian home in Wilkesboro, North Carolina with her mom, dad and brother. She lived there till she left to go to Agnus Scott, an all girls college, in Atlanta. After her freshman year she transferred to The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where she met great friends that she still has today. After college she moved to Charlotte, NC where she became a pharmacist. She met her husband in there, then moved to Burlington for his job after the wedding. She has three children and is a breast cancer survivor. Ann loves to travel and go to her weekly bible studies. Christianity to Ann is about the relationship and not the religion.

On morals in college:

I’ve been a teetotaler my whole life. Kind of made up my mind that people asked me why I’d say, “Number one I don’t like the taste, and number two I don’t want anything that is going to control me, I want to be in control of myself.” [SG: Right.] It hasn’t been a hard challenge. It’s just been one that I have personally had my agenda that I don’t need it, so I’m not going to succumb to what the world says is acceptable, you know? So even through college I was unique.

Listen to the audio of Ann’s response about her morals.

On her and her husband’s relationship

Well, we have grown so much in our faith since then. I would probably, you know, put the Lord first. Another thing is just, I think you need to outdo each other in how much you love each other. I particularly was a taker in our relationship. I saw my mother was a taker in her relationship, if you know what I mean? Fairfax was a natural giver. I don’t mean materially, I meant – he would give up his ways so that I could have my way. That was the example that I had had given to me. When I really started studying the Bible, I just realized that was wrong, total wrong thinking. That I was to be submissive to my husband. We are all to be submissive to each other. But our relationship grew so much more when I understood that how selfish I was. God just started changing me little by little and showing me my selfishness.

Listen to the audio of Ann’s response about her marriage.

Ann explains how she instills Christianity into her children

Well we started out taking them to church all the time. That was never an option whether you go to church at our house, we did. But as I became deeper in my faith and realized it was more a relationship than it was religion. I started living out the relationship, whereas the Lord came first in my life and before He didn’t come first. It was family first. [SG: Right.] Maybe church came high up there, but not Jesus because I didn’t really know that relationship with Jesus so how did I give it to my children. [SG: Right.] I think you live it out and that’s how you show it to your children. [SG: Right.] I think when Heath made that statement our whole family changed when my mom started bible study is because the relationship became real to me and she saw that.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Ann’s life.

Ann was very proud of her children. Here she talks about her oldest daughter, Heath

I always describe Heath to somebody that it was like the light came on in the room when she walked through. [SG: Right.] She was full of joy and just, you know, she was maturing, she was sharing things that were on her heart and just it was great.

Listen to the audio about her children.

Battle with cancer and relationship with God

That is a testimony that I wasn’t afraid. I know that was Him. I knew that the worst thing in life is not dying. If He took my life, He took my life. I knew my family, you know, I knew Heath was a strong enough leader that she would take care of the family from the maternal part. I knew Fairfax would find another wife, that everybody was saved at that point. So death was not really a frightening thing to me. [SG: Oh my gosh.] It wasn’t. He just really, gosh, I just felt the Lord’s presence in a way that I… you don’t ever invite that kind of stuff into your life ‘cause, you just don’t [laughs]. But the challenges of watching God work in the midst of my cancer was really something that I’ll never forget. It taught me that everything in that book over there is true [Pointing toward The Bible].

Listen to the audio of Ann’s response about her cancer experience.

Interview with Susan Yow

Susan Yow was interviewed by Pam Richter on November 4, 2010

Susan Yow is the youngest of four siblings, including her older sister Kay who is one of the most well-renowned college basketball coaches in the history of the sport.  Kay is most known for her perseverance through her battle with breast cancer and recording one of the highest win totals in college basketball history.  Debbie Yow, another one of Susan’s older siblings, is the athletic director at N.C. State University, and their older brother played football at Clemson University.  Susan has made her mark on the athletic world as well.  Throughout her career, Susan has twenty four years of Division I coaching experience and spent four seasons coaching professional in the Women’s National Basketball Association.  She was born on August 5th, 1954 in Gibsonville, N.C. and is the current women’s basketball coach at Belmont Abbey College, located in Charlotte, N.C. 

Kay Yow’s cancer battle

It was hard.  It’s just hard.  But Kay handled it so well, it made it easier for everyone.  It really did.  As it got down to the last year and a half or so, we knew it was terminal.  We’ve always known that.  We knew it was level four cancer, but nobody knows your time or day part in this world.  As it got closer you could see the deterioration in her body, that was hard.  But Kay just did a great job handling it.  It made it really easier for everyone.  I don’t think you can ever prepare for death of someone, but having lost our mom to cancer and watching that, to me I was able to prepare myself a little bit for it.  I really was and to really ponder what it was going to be like not to have her here.  It was hard because she and I talked after every game I had ever coached.  Not to have her to pick up the phone to call her after a game was really really strange and really hard.  The year I was here, the rest of that season, I always called her and told her about the game.  But she made it easy, she really made easy how she handled things and her faith and just her enthusiasm for life.  She never lost that.  It was fun all the way up until the very very end until probably the last three weeks and then she was so weak and was in the hospital and stayed in the hospital and that was a hard time.  But, many many people go through it, you just deal with it

Listen to the audio of Susan’s response about her sister’s cancer battle.

A lesson Kay taught her

One thing she taught me and she kind of taught me this when I was at Elon – whatever you do, do your very very best.  Whatever you do, just do your very very best.  It’s what’s on the inside that counts really.

Listen to the audio of Susan’s response about a lesson her sister taught her.

Challenges with coaching

It’s just a lot of pressure.  I admire those people that do it and can do it with great integrity and not lose their values and not be bought, not sell their soul and put your head down every night.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Susan’s thought on the challenges with coaching.

Difference between men’s and women’s basketball

The biggest difference is an age old problem or concern.  They play above the rim, we play below the rim.  They really do and that’s the biggest difference.  ‘Cause you know we can’t dunk, we can’t do alley oops.  And for that reason we don’t have the power the men have in the game as far as the thrust, and we don’t have the speed nor the quickness that they have, but other than that I think in some regards I think our game might be better because I think we are more fundamental and we play more as a unit and we’re not individualized so much because we don’t have that athleticism.

Listen to the audio about the difference in men’s and women’s basketball.


I think I was called here.  I think I’m supposed to be here.  My Christian faith is where all of my values are wrapped up in; everything is wrapped up in that, the Ten Commandments.  Doing to others that you have them do onto you, it’s all wrapped up into that.

Listen to the audio of Susan’s response about her values.

Interview with Mary Ann Inabnit

Mary Ann Inabnit was interviewed by Meaghan Harkins on Arpil 19, 2010

Mary Ann was born in South Carolina but moved to North Carolina to teach. She met her husband in North Carolina and after their marriage they went on to have six children. She graduated from Winthrop College with a teaching certificate and taught typing and shorthand to high school students for five years. She now works at Belk Library at Elon University with the periodicals. She loves spending time with her family, visiting friends, and helping her church. Mary Ann Inabnit was eighty years old when this interview took place.

On Family

Mary Ann idolized her brothers and loved to be with them. Here she describes playing with her brothers:

Very good. Fun. They would let me play football with them on Sunday afternoon in our pasture. A lot of their friends would come to play and they would let me center the ball. You know what that is, centering the ball? Then I would have to get out but I was used so that was good. I had fun doing that. And often they would want to go away to play and they would let me sit on the front door step and let me hold their little knife or their little buckeye.

Listen to the audio of Mary Ann describes playing with her brothers.

On Education

Mary believes that education is a very important thing in everyone’s life and talks about her own school experience:

The school I went to when I was very young was the first grade through the fourth grade in one room. This was a small country school called Smith School and the other grade was fifth through seventh. I had a wonderful teacher and she wore high heeled shoes and I just thought that was the most wonderful thing. I would come home from school and get my mother’s high heeled shoes and prance around. I had a good experience in grammar school and from that I went to high school at Anderson, the city of Anderson and had good time at that time. We only had eleven grades. So I went off to college when I was sixteen and graduated when I was 20.

Listen to the audio of Mary Ann’s response about her schooling.

On Where You Live

Mary enjoys living in North Carolina and she explains why she feels that way:

It has made my life very enjoyable. Happiness is from within. So I think you could, if you chose, live anywhere if you were going to be happy you could be happy. Do you follow me? You don’t have to be at a certain place. But North Carolina is an easy place to live and we’ve been fortunate to have good schools, churches that we’ve enjoyed and appreciated. And friends that we’ve appreciated. Elon has been very meaningful to us.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Mary Ann’s experience of living in North Carolina.

On Women Today

When asked if she had any advice for young women today, this is what she responded with

I want people, young people to be true to themselves and to aspire to make their life worthwhile. Giving up themselves to others in various ways. You can do that in numerous ways but I think that’s something that you, Meaghan would aspire to do. Find a position or job, it doesn’t have to be a great job but do the best you can with it and help others as much as you can. Does that make sense?

Listen to the audio about what should be important to young women today.

On the War

Mary had two older brothers who both fought in World War II. This is her description of what she did the day Pearl Harbor happened.

On that day of Pearl Harbor it was Sunday. My mother and I been to church and to Sunday school and had come home. My daddy’s brother, from Anderson, we lived in the country about seven miles from the city of Anderson, South Carolina. My uncle and his wife came to our house and picked my mother and me up. Both of the boys were at Clemson. Both of my brothers and we went up to Clemson to see them on that day. I had never ever seen a group of boys. None of them were smiling. It was a military school, Clemson was at that time. Of course, they knew where they were going. And my brother Davey graduated in May and he went into the army in June. Then my other brother was a sophomore at Clemson at that time and he went that summer and had to come back to Clemson after the war and graduate. But it was a sad day, difficult day. But I was glad now we got to go see them that day.

Listen to the audio of Mary Ann’s response about the day of Pearl Harbor.