LETTER TO THE EDITOR: There’s An Angel Among Us—1959 SHS Graduate

Once in a lifetime you may meet a person who shows concern for his friends or former classmates. Dr. Walter Pepper Ashford, Starkville MS High School (SHS) Class of 1959, is a most unusual person who has made it part of his life goals to maintain contact with every 1959 SHS graduate through his digital contact list complete with email addresses, telephone numbers, and home addresses. If one of his fellow 1959 SHS graduates has a medical problem, he checks on them, answers health questions and assists them in getting good medical care. No one is paying Ashford to do this; he just does it out of the goodness of his heart.

One day I was in ECM Hospital’s surgery waiting room in Florence, AL, waiting for one of my husband Tommy’s surgeries to be over. I was thinking I needed to call Pepper for medical advice and support. Almost immediately my telephone rang--It was Pepper, asking for directions to ECM Hospital. He showed up to provide moral support for my daughter Michelle and me and to discuss what we could do for Tommy. Upon hearing about this experience, another of our good friends said, “That guy sounds like an angel who knows when his friends need him and shows up at exactly the right time.”

Ashford made several trips from his home in Goodlettsville, TN, to Nashville and Florence to check on Thompson and advise on ways to make his life more manageable. He has visited SHS classmates in Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, and other locations to provide moral support.

Pepper’s background as a Mississippi State and University of Mississippi Medical School graduate, plus Head of a MASH Unit during the Vietnam War, physician in Tavares, Florida and Harrison, Arkansas, evolved into service to society as a medical missionary. But it seems that his greatest accomplishment has been a strong connection and service to his fellow classmates at SHS. He never forgot his roots and still maintains close ties with many of his fellow SHS graduates.

- Marie K. Thompson

Florence, Alabama