April 17, 2022
Beth (Springer) Glover left us on Dec. 29, 2021, to join her beloveds, friends and relations in the infinite universe (her Baptist friends call it Heaven). She was 86 and surely earned it after decades of teaching the impressionable children of Columbus.
If you are a former student of hers from Franklin Academy or Demonstration School — whether you feared or loved her — please keep reading, as she would have wanted you to. Because she always wanted to share with everyone her love of education and knowledge, and how they served her in her own life. Spare a few moments for this wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, aunt and educator whose life in Columbus intertwined with so many of you.
She was born Feb. 25, 1935, in Mantee, MS, to Howard C. and Correne Ware Springer, but was primarily raised by her aunt and uncle, William S. and Ruby King of Memphis.
You see, her young life was upended when her father passed away when she was 11. That was hard enough, but her younger brother, Jack, contracted encephalitis when he was young and never achieved his full mental capacities. Her mother made the difficult decision to send her to live with the Kings so that she could focus on Jack’s development and well- being. (She later in life had both her mother and her brother live on her property so she could keep careful watch over them. And she did so until they both passed away.)
Beth loved reading all of the books her aunt and uncle provided for her and set her sights on a career in education. She got her undergraduate education at MSCW (now MUW) and the University of Mississippi. She also went on to earn her master’s degree in education at Mississippi State University.
Close students of legendary teachers in Columbus will love this factoid about Beth, as this writer did: She often drove Miss Virginia Mae Ferrill to various places over the years for their continuing education courses. The details to this writer regarding the conversations on those trips are hazy, but the enduring image of these two fierce titans of teaching traveling the state continues to intrigue and might yet inspire a short story or play someday. “Driving Miss Ferrill” has a certain allure to aging Columbus denizens, no?
Beth spent most of her career at Franklin (the first free school in Mississippi), teaching second and fourth grades. Despite her diminutive figure, she was fully in charge of her students. Well, most of them anyway.
There was one little boy who insisted on calling her “Aunt Beth.” “Rodney,” she would scold her nephew, “you’re supposed to call me Mrs. Glover when you’re in my class.” He finally learned the correct salutation and developed a lifelong passion for reading — something she considered her mission in her profession.
Beth reveled in teaching and guiding students. After she retired at 55, she often jumped back into the classroom as a substitute teacher over the next 20 years before she finally retired for good. Even after that, she proudly participated in a social group called Retired Educators Still Ticking.
Beth’s teaching career coincided with the Civil Rights Movement and the advent of desegregation in Columbus. She often was the clear-eyed realist who could face down some of the men in the room around the dinner table who would vow to fight it. “It’s coming,” she would say as the men would get quiet. “And there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” She held her own through her fierce intellect and conviction.
While her childhood had been challenging, she faced even more daunting circumstances in adulthood as she survived not one, but two, bouts of cancer 20 years apart. She used that experience often to be a support peer for women who were undergoing mastectomies.
In case you’re wondering, yes, she definitely smoked. Often. Incessantly. Everywhere. It seemed as if she was daring fate. “I do not give a s—-!’ she would often say. And she most definitely did not.
But she did care about friends and family. She was often the quietly commanding presence at a wedding or funeral, guiding the seating, or the rituals she knew by heart. She was what a writer in Southern Living magazine called a “logistics operator” — the relative who was working patiently at home preparing after-funeral feasts or entertaining small children who had just lost their grandmother. She just appeared at needed moments and took care of things. Countless of us in the Glover family have had Beth appear at the right moment when members of our family were transitioning.
Speaking of the Glovers, Beth became a member of this sprawling family when she married William Patty Glover on June 1, 1957. They had three children, Sandy, John and Tyson. William Patty and John preceded her in death. Beth and William Patty seemed very suited for each other, supporting each other in parenting and their careers. A member of the Columbus Police Department who later rose to become assistant police chief, Patty was partnered with the city of Columbus’ first black detective, John Thomas. Often he would join them for supper as he and Patty discussed cases, remembers Sandy.
They both possessed great intellects. A nephew, Eric Loftis, remembers as a teenager being able to drop by their house in the early evening, where he would listen as they discussed the issues of the day. Those visits would often stretch into the wee hours of the morning as they talked or played Scrabble. Never once, he said, was he asked to leave.
She was a sharp dresser and often appeared at various Glover children’s birthday parties perfectly dressed in petite dresses and pearls. For a night out, she would add matching shoes (stilettos) and a purse. A Jackie Kennedy- esque hat was part of the ensemble on more somber occasions. (She once wore a bright yellow dress as she accompanied William Patty on a liquor still raid in some barren woods. Not the best idea, she conceded as she recounted how she had realized her error and spent the rest of the raid trying to hide behind any tree she could as they traipsed through the woods.)
In her retirement years, Beth enjoyed friends, family and, yes, her wine group. They were known as the Wednesday Wine Group, though at one point they morphed into the Wednesday Wine Group that Met on Thursdays. She treasured her time with them.
She also loved her expansive house and property, where she built a swimming pool and hosted countless pool parties, reunions and even weddings. Tyson even roasted a whole hog once.
In her final years, she lived with daughter Sandy Al-Khalil in Lawrenceville, Ga. They would often sit in adjacent chairs and simply hold hands, since Beth’s dementia had robbed her of that sharp intellect she wielded to such great effect in her teaching years.
Still, she could summon her old self when the topic of the book “50 Shades of Grey” was mentioned. Those who knew Beth know that she was not shy about being bawdy, and this book was the perfect excuse to get her gabbing and giggling like a teenaged school girl.
Beth had the good fortune to be born in a private home and to die in a private home, each time surrounded by those she loved and who loved her — perfect bookends for a life filled with so many rich and detailed chapters.
In addition to Sandy, Beth is survived by her son, Tyson P. Glover, of Columbus; granddaughters, Reina Al-Khalil of Atlanta, Tamra Al-Khalil of San Francisco, Brittany Hansford (husband Joseph) of Columbus; grandson, John Glover Jr.; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at Memorial Gunter Peel Funeral home in Columbus, 716 Second Ave. N, on April 19, 2022. Visitation is from 1-2 PM. The service will start at 2 PM, with nephew Rodney Glover officiating. Private burial will take place at Friendship Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Special Needs, Special Spirit, a charity for special needs citizens of Columbus, or the Columbus Lowndes Humane Society. Oh, and please raise a glass of bourbon as a toast when you do write that check.