Parapro teacher helps in family’s furniture store

Donna Pope at Pope Furniture in Piedmont.

Trent Penny

After working in sewing plants and a manufacturing plant for many years, Donna Pope of Piedmont made a big change career-wise. The change carried her to schools. She started out as a substitute teacher at Spring Garden.

She became a parapro and now holds that position at Centre Middle School in Centre with the Cherokee County School System.

Prior to that she sewed gores on bras at Playtex. She was there 18 months when it closed. Then she sewed collars on shirts at Piedmont Executive. After that, she was an inspector at So Sew Mfg. Co., in Centre.  She worked a short time at Bostrom before she became a substitute teacher.

She never realized how much she would enjoy working with children. She’s worked closely with them for 22 years. In her opinion, all the children are unique in their own way.

Giving them a lot of personal attention in and out of the classroom, and knowing how much they appreciate that, gives her a lot of satisfaction.

Donna spends a lot of time helping her son, Nathan, and her husband, Danny, who own Pope Furniture on Center Avenue in Piedmont. What she does there can’t be called a job because she enjoys it so much. She likes showing customers around the store and answering their questions.

Nathan is the only child of Donna and Danny. He and his wife, the former Amy Glover, who works at Farmers & Merchants Bank in Anniston, live in Piedmont. They have two children. Ava is 11 and Judd is 9. Donna likes to talk about them and, while she’s talking, she’s been known to brag. She remembers telling her own mother to not brag on her grandchildren so much. Donna said now that she has her own, she understands why her mother bragged so much.

Donna and Danny met at the YMCA. They married Sept. 29, 1973 at the now non-existent Bethel Methodist Church. They didn’t have to drive for to begin their honeymoon. They went to Oxford. The newlyweds lived with Danny’s grandmother until their mobile home became ready.

Her parents are Lee and Pauline (Barrett) Buttram of Piedmont. Both are deceased now.  Her brother, Michael Barrett, and her sister, Samantha Thacker, live in Piedmont. Her sister, Tabatha Griffin, lives in Bushwood, Md., near Washington D.C.

She learned a lot about crafts from her grandmother Mildred Buttram. Her grandmother could sew well, but Donna said she didn’t receive that gene. She made Danny a leisure suit, mostly to impress her grandmother, and it didn’t turn out well. In fact, in Donna’s words, “it was so ugly.”

Donna likes to cross stitch and go antiquing. It was her mother and grandmother who taught her to cook. She didn’t get to do a lot of hands-on in the preparation, but she did get to do a lot of sampling.

Danny helps Nathan at his store. After Nathan married and had a family, Donna found herself cooking less and less for herself and Danny. They frequently eat out. However,. Danny is a diabetic now so she enjoys trying new diabetic recipes for him.

Her grandson’s favorite cake is Coca Cola Cake, Donna’s mother’s recipe “so it’s a family favorite.” Strawberry Smash is her granddaughter’s favorite.

Contact Margaret at



½ c. oil

3 T. cocoa

1 t. vanilla

½ c. buttermilk

1 ½ c. miniature marshmallows

1 c. margarine softened

1 t. baking soda

2 c. plain flour

1 ¾ c. sugar

2 eggs

1 cup Coke

   In medium sauce pan, over medium heat, combine Coke, oil, butter and cocoa. Bring to boil. In another bowl combine sugar, flour and salt. Mix well. Next add eggs, buttermilk, soda and the mixture from the boiler and beat well. Add marshmallows and beat this by hand. Pour mixture into prepared 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before frosting.


½ stick margarine, softened

3 T. cocoa

6 T. cream or milk

½ cup Coke

1 box powdered sugar

1 t. vanilla

   Combine butter, cocoa, 1 ½ cup Coke and 1 box confectioner’s sugar in a bowl. Beat until smooth. Add 6 T. milk and 1 t. vanilla and beat again. When smooth spread on cooled cake.



3 c. mashed sweet potatoes

1 c. sugar

½ c. butter

1 t. vanilla

1/3 c. milk

   Mix all of the above and put in baking dish. Combine the following and use as topping.

1 c. light brown sugar

½ c. flour

1/3 c. butter, melted

1 c. chopped nuts

   Bake at 350 degrees until top is brown.


1 strawberry cake mix

1 lg. Cool Whip

1 lg. sour cream

1 lg. vanilla instant pudding

1 c. milk

2 pts. frozen strawberries with juice, thawed

1 sm. Eagle Brand milk, optional

   Make strawberry cake as directed on box. Bake in 9x13 prepared pan. Let cool. Combine, in large bowl, Cool Whip, sour cream and Eagle Brand milk (if used). In small bowl combine vanilla, instant pudding mix and 1 cup of milk. W

hen this begins to thicken, add to Cool Whip mixture and stir well.

   In another large bowl, with lid, crumble ½ of strawberry cake in bottom. Top with ½ of Cool Whip mixture.

Top this with 1 pt. frozen strawberries and juice. Repeat layering, ending with strawberries and juice. Cover and chill overnight if possible. If you don’t have that much time, chill for several hours.


1 stick margarine

1 c. sugar

1 egg (well beaten)

1 pkg. chopped dates

1 c. chopped pecans

1 t. vanilla

4 c. Rice Krispies


   Mix margarine and sugar. Add well beaten egg and package of chopped dates. Cook together on low heat until dissolved. Stir often.

   Add nuts and cook 10 minutes longer, stirring constantly.

   Next add 4 c. Rice Krispies, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.

   Remove small amounts and shape into ball.

Roll in coconut. (You can use powdered sugar instead of coconut.) You can also make these well in advance.