March 12, 1917 – January 29, 2016
Written by: Valerie Crawford
In collaboration with her family and friends
Sweet, Smart, and Kind. She was a “great southern lady. She always wore a smile”, said Danny Cook. Mrs. Abigail Hyde is known across the county for her loving and giving spirit. She was a God fearing woman and lived her life as the best example of that. It was impossible to walk away from her and not feel your day was a little brighter. Other words and phrases used to describe her were “such a fine lady”, “loved by all”, “epitomized gentility”, and the list really does go on and on. Mrs. Abigail is legendary for her love and grace. A lifetime spent shining that much light into the world is something never forgotten.
This is the Mrs. Abigail Hyde talked about by all. The lives she touched, whether through her friendship or gifts of many, have kept her in the memories of the county’s residents. This was Mrs. Abigail, the famous Mrs. Abigail Hyde. Speaking with Mrs. Vivian Perkins, her granddaughter, more was discovered, and stories of an awe-inspiring life were told. There were many layers to Mrs. Abigail and failing to include some of these fascinating insights would be remiss.
Mrs. Abigail was the first female juror in Lake County. That is a fact for which she was very proud and one she might want mentioned.
She told a story to her grandchildren about wanting to go shopping during the Depression. She wanted to go to Goldsmith’s in Memphis, so they road in a grain truck all the way to Memphis, parked on the street, got out, and put their heels on. They were ready to shop.
There seemed to be a determination and drive in her younger years that pointed to the woman she was to become.
Mrs. Abigail is known to have been a retired nurse from Parkview Hospital in Dyersburg. In the 1950’s, after losing her husband, she decided to go to St. Joseph in Memphis to earn her degree in nursing, becoming a Labor and Delivery nurse. She was in her 30’s at the time. She served, also, as a local mid-wife. She told her granddaughter a story of leaving her home in the dark of night and delivering a baby by flashlight in Ridgely. This is some of that revered dedication to community for which she is so loved.
She probably didn’t mind those nighttime calls. Mrs. Abigail didn’t sound like she loved mornings. She wanted second or third shift at the hospital and would stay up all night talking to friends, even in her latter years. It was said you wouldn’t get her on the phone before 10 A.M.
She was a fabulous cook. She made almost everything at home. Mrs. Abigail fed everyone. She never closed her door to anyone, and no one ever left hungry. People came to see her unexpectedly everyday. Many times, someone came by just to say ‘thank you’. No one, except that person and Mrs. Abigail, knew what that ‘thank you’ was for. She helped anywhere she could and in any way she could. There was pride in her granddaughter’s voice when recalling just how often that happened.
Mrs. Abigail was known to carry a gun in the vehicle by those close to her during the early years working at Parkview. She knew the drive to Dyersburg might be dangerous and even moving from place to place for her husband’s store in Owl City could be. She never had to use it, but there sounds to be little doubt she would if she had to.
She had a love for traveling and would jump up and take off with very little notice. If a friend was driving to North Carolina or somewhere, it was not abnormal for Mrs. Abigail to get ready quickly and go with them without telling a soul. Her husband might come home to a note on the table saying, “I’m going to North Carolina”. Mrs. Vivian said he never worried. He knew she would be back some time. About 1967, she drove both of her grandchildren to California. She just got behind the wheel alone and drove.
In her 70’s, she returned to college to take writing courses. When she was 90, she told her grandchildren she wanted a computer, so she could teach herself to use it. That is exactly what she did. She had loved writing letters, but her discovery of the computer left her with the option for an instant letter. She started sending emails.
She loved history, genealogy, traveling, writing, and many other things. She served Lake County as a valued correspondent and the historian for the Lake County Banner, Chairman of the Lake County Red Cross, and was a charter member of the Lake County Historical Society. She had a “flawless memory”. To this day, if you ask someone a Lake County historical question, they will say, “Mrs. Abigail Hyde would have known”.
Sweet as sugar, she was, but she was also strong, fearless, and unconventional. She held strong beliefs and opinions about many things and did not mind speaking up when she needed to or debating her position. She was proud of who she was. She never stopped doing exactly what she wanted to do. She was a “trendsetter”, Mrs. Vivian said.
Mrs. Abigail Hyde was not one thing or another. There’s no label for what she was. She had a kind and loving spirit by nature. This drove her to choose the paths of nursing, witnessing and prayer, great friendship, giving from the heart, and sharing so much love with the community. She also had a spirit of adventure and a hunger for knowledge. God gave the world a precious gift in Mrs. Abigail Hyde, and Lake County was blessed to have her call it home.