Elsie Finch Willis realizes that being the wife of a pastor puts her in a special position. Her husband, Floyd, has pastored churches for 28 of the 53 years they’ve been married.

“It’s something the Lord’s called him to do, and He’s called me to be his help mate,” said Elsie.

Elise said having a husband who is a pastor is rewarding because it often puts her, as well as her husband, in a position to help others.

“You get to meet different people, and you make friends wherever you go,” said Elsie. “We have a lot of friends we’ve met from different churches.”

Elsie will always have fond memories of “the walnut tree” that has stood on Alabama 9 for many years. It was there where she and Floyd became acquainted. She and a friend ran out of gas at the tree. Floyd and a friend were coon hunting, and they stopped to help.

“I’d already seen him,” said Elsie. “We lived in Piedmont close to the Coffee Cup, and I’d seen him come around through there, and he’d seen me, but I’d never met him until that night. He asked me for a date that night. It all started at the walnut tree.”

They had been dating three months when Floyd proposed. They were engaged for a year before they married. They were married on a Friday afternoon on July 28 by Rev. R. M. Livingston at his home on the Centre Highway. Elsie was 17, and Floyd was 19.

They left that day for Columbia, Tenn., where Floyd had a job working for Otis Law in the concrete business. A year later they moved to Nances Creek where they’ve lived since.

Elsie and Floyd have three children. Their daughter and son-in-law, Tammy and Tom Sawyer, live in Golden Springs. Their children are Tonya, Christy and Trey. Their daughter and son-in-law, Lisa and Patick Bolduc, live in Middlesex, N. J. Stephanie is their daughter. Their son, Chris, lives next door to them. Chris has a son, Kyle. Their great-grandson, Jackson, lives in Birmingham.

Elsie attended Spring Garden School until ninth grade. Her father contacted typhoid fever, and her mother didn’t drive, so the family had to move to Piedmont. Later, Elsie’s brother, Travis, contracted typhoid fever, but he had a milder case.

Another reason the family moved to Piedmont was because it was thought her father and brother had contracted the disease from their well water.

Before he became ill, Elsie’s father worked at Standard-Coosa-Thatcher. He couldn’t work after getting typhoid fever. He had to stay in the hospital a long time. The disease affected his limbs.

“He couldn’t work after that,” said Elsie. “His health got down, and he died from a stroke years later.”

Travis recovered is doing fine today, said Elsie. He lives in Forsyth County, Georgia. Her brother, Billy, is deceased, and her brother, James, lives in Heflin. Elsie has three sisters. Faye Renfroe lives in Shelby, N. C., Dean Smith lives in Nances Creek, and JoAnn McGatha is deceased. Her parents are Austin and Electer (Hart) Finch.

After her father became ill, Elsie was forced to quit school and go to work. Her father wasn’t happy about her decision.

“I was the oldest one at home at the time, so I got a job at the Coffee Cup to help mama and daddy,” she said. “The whole family helped. The older ones who were married and moved off would send her money. My daddy had a fit when he found out I’d quit school, but I told mama that’s what I needed to do.”

Elsie said she enjoys her church work and being with her family. One of her favorite things is going crappie fishing with Floyd.

By the time Elsie was 13, she was making biscuits for the family and helping her mother cook.

Not long after she and Floyd married, Elsie made him a cherry pie.

“I didn’t know he didn’t like cherries,” she said. “I asked him if it was good, and he said it wasn’t like his mama’s. Years later he told me he didn’t like cherries.”

(Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com)



2 ½ c. cake flour

1 ½ c. sugar

1 t. soda

1 c. buttermilk

1 ½ c. canola oil

1 t. vinegar

2 lg. eggs

1 – 2 oz. bottle red food coloring

1 t. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together. Add other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Bake in round cake pan, greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Do not overcook. Cool, then frost.


1 stick butter

1 – 8 oz. cream cheese

1 box confectioner’s sugar

1 c. pecans, chopped

Best until creamy. Add pecans. Spread on cake.


1 c. sweet milk

1 c. corn meal

2 eggs, well beaten

1 lg. can cream style corn

½  lb. hamburger meat

1 lg. onion, chopped

½ lb. grated cheese (8 oz.)

4 hot peppers (or you can use 1)

Grease skillet and preheat. Brown hamburger and drain. Mix corn meal, eggs, milk and corn. Sprinkle corn meal on hot skillet. Pour ½ of batter in skilled. Add onions, cheese, meat and pepper. Pour remainder n top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Bread will turn loose from skillet better if allowed to cool.


2 lb. ground beef

2 cans tomatoes (large)

1 can tomato paste (small)

2 onions, chopped

½ - 1 c. celery, chopped

2 T. chili powder

2 cans red kidney beans

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste.

Brown meat. Mix with other ingredients. Simmer for one and a half hour.


8 oz. macaroni

1 onion

1 jar pimento

1 jar mushroom pieces

1 can mushroom soup

1 c. mayonnaise

1 stick butter, melted

1 stack Ritz crackers

1 lb. grated cheese

Cook macaroni. Mix with pepper, onion, pimento, mushroom pieces, mushroom soup, mayonnaise and ½ of the cheese. Melt butter and crumble crackers in butter. Sprinkle other half of cheese on top with crackers. Cook at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.