Submitted by Carlene Croft
Mrs. Annette Perry Croft was born September 28, 1928. She was the daughter of Leslie L. Perry and Annie Luke Perry. Her mother died when Annette was just a baby. Her father remarried Estelle Jones who helped to raise Annette along with her sister, Loraine Calhoun Keen, of Mayo. Annette was married to the late Harvey Croft for thirty-eight years. She has one daughter, Belinda Cox of Columbia, South Carolina who is married to Leary Cox. She has three granddaughters and two great-grandchildren.
Annette was a life-long resident of Lafayette County, an employee of the Lafayette State Bank for fifty-three years, and an active member of the Mayo Baptist Church for fifty-four years.
Annette was a person who sowed seeds of friendship and blessings into the life of others. It did not matter how much money a person had or did not have. All he or she needed to have in fact was a need and Annette was there to do what she did best, offer help. Her help might be delivering flowers to a grave for those who lived far away and could not travel to Mayo. She made sure the loved one was given tribute on the special holiday.
Perhaps, her deed for the day was helping to serve breakfast at the nursing home as a volunteer, cleaning a bird bath and pulling weeds when someone's mom just passed away, or delivering homemade yeast rolls to some special person that God brought to her mind. She was also known to send inspirational cards to encourage hurting hearts. She was always about her Heavenly Father's business. She never failed to give recognition to Him as her source of strength and her motivation for being helpful to others.
It was not unusual when our very first Pioneer Day was being organized for Annette to offer her help. It would be her appreciation for artistic beauty and nature's bountiful supply of subjects that provided the inspiration for the very first Pioneer Day Art Show twenty-four years ago. Not only was she someone who appreciated other's artistic ability, but she was quite artistic herself. She did cross-stitch and was an outstanding seamstress for many years.
She made contacts with painters, photographers, wood crafters and quilt makers. They all became more than just contestants in an art show. They became friends, precious blooms in a garden of artistic appreciation. Oil paintings and water colors of favorite lilies, forget-me-nots and roses would be delivered to Annette for the art show. Quilts of many colors, crafts of wood, and photographs of nature and historical sites also arrived several days before Pioneer Day. The art was prepared for display often into the wee hours of the morning before daylight. The paintings were finally ready for the arrival of the judges. Ribbons for prizes were given to honor the winners and expressions of gratitude made to all participants. In the end, it was more than just an art show. It was a union of thoughts and feelings shared by friends with a common bond. It was a bond of love and appreciation for the treasures found in artistic achievements, talents, and abilities.
To define her dedication to the art show year after year, one must acknowledge her tenacity in spite of the physical disability of her left arm. She never acknowledged her handicap in anyway and never allowed it to interfere in whatever she was endeavoring to do. For example, her handicap never hindered her dedication to the continued success of the art show. One college student she recruited to assist setting up the art show commented, Mrs. Annette worked harder and more hours than I did, and she worked circles around me. I was exhausted after helping her.
As the 2003 Pioneer Day Art Show exhibits its beauty through the creative works of its participants, may we remember to give tribute to Mrs. Annette Perry Croft for her insight and perseverance in organizing and administrating twenty-three successful art shows for Pioneer Day. We dedicate the 2003 Pioneer Day Art Show in honor and memory of Mrs. Annette Perry Croft. May her spirit and appreciation for the arts live in our hearts as we reflect on today as well as future Pioneer Day Art Shows.