Lou Todd Hutchens proudly holds up a picture of her great-granddaughter Carly and says she knows the toddler could easily win a cutest kid contest.
She lovingly stares at the picture of the child with doll-like features and talks about how excited she is for the child to come visit for the weekend.
This moment captures the essence of Hutchens, a nearly 82-year-old woman with a big heart and love for children that she’s carried with her through her life.
Hutchens was born and raised in Yadkin County. Her family initially lived in the Shacktown area until she was 14 years old.
“The town was named for a man named Shack, not because of the way it looks,” she shares. “Then we moved to the big city of Yadkinville.”
Hutchens said that she was raised in a family of eight children. She attended Yadkinville School and then moved to Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art education.
“When I graduated in 1953 there was no such thing as art education,” Hutchens said. “I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t have a job. and they didn’t give art in the schools.”
She traveled to Newton, Ga. after college where she taught before eventually returning home to live with her parents and teach at Farmington High School in Davie County.
“I enjoyed living with Mother and Daddy, and I like helping take care of them,” Hutchens said about returning home. “My Daddy was something else.”
Hutchens got a job teaching art in Yadkin County at Starmount and Forbush High Schools when the schools consolidated.
“I taught at Starmount for about four years, and then I went on to Forbush where I taught for 20 years,” Hutchens said. “I was there the first day that Forbush High School was in session. I was the first certified art teacher in this county.”
Hutchens said that she loved spending time with her students and watching them grow as artists.
“I enjoyed my teaching, and I enjoyed my kids,” Hutchens said. “I had some very talented ones, and I have several students that I’ve taught who make their living in the field of art.”
Still, there was something missing for Hutchens. She was an active part of First Baptist Church and prepared the church’s flowers every Sunday. She said that one Sunday she was talking to the pastor at the time, Richard Eskew, and he was trying to convince her to invest in bonds.
“He was trying to convince me to buy a bond, and I told him I couldn’t afford one,” Hutchens said. “He said that if I would buy one then he would ask the Lord to give me a husband.”
A few months later, at the age of 46, Lou met Paul Hutchens and knew she had found the one.
“I met Paul at a good time in my life,” Hutchens said. “I was 46 years old when I got married. These young people today need to know that they don’t have to get married right away, they just need to have a good life and when the right one comes along they’ll know it.”
Once Hutchens retired from teaching she went into business for herself making gift baskets. She opened a store in Yadkinville called Lou’s Everything Art. She said she mostly made any kind of gift that was appropriate for a basket.
“I kept the business for 10 years, and then I developed diabetes. I didn’t have the strength to operate it like it should be operated,” Hutchens said. “I went out of business after that.”
Since her second retirement, Hutchens said that she mostly enjoys being home and taking day trips with her husband up the Blue Ridge Parkway or across the line to Virginia.
Hutchens said that she is still very active at Maplewood Baptist Church. A church she helped found with 53 others that pulled away from First Baptist years ago.
Hutchens said that she is pleased with the way her life has unfolded and that she feels blessed for all the she has today.
“We’ve had a good and a full life,” Hutchens said. “I will turn 82 on May 24 and we’ll celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary on Christmas day this year. I’ve lived a long and happy life.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.