i’m in a southern state of mind!
p.s. only one more final to go!!!!!
(please excuse the large, dark circles under my eyes, i should sleep more)
3 finals left
2 days until mom comes!!!
3 days until i see becca!!!
60 more days filled with college class…and THAT’S IT…forever! I can’t be that old.
81 days until I’m a Mrs. (woah!…scary, huh! it is to me!)
be back soon with my trip from to ALABAMA-it was heavenly.
I’m enjoying the journey.
Gregory C. Bess: 5th Generation
Mormon in Dothan, Alabama
by Linda Lee Brown
As a fifth generation Southerner in the Church, Gregory Charles Bess, President of the Dothan Alabama Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is no stranger to service. It’s part of his heritage. Around 1900 Josiah and Elizabeth (Betty) Braxton Sims, farmers near Marianna, Florida, invited missionaries into their home to rest and recuperate from the long walk from North Georgia on their way to South Florida to preach and teach during the winter months. While the missionaries were there, Betty cooked and washed their clothes during the day. At night she and Josiah invited friends and neighbors to come to their home for meetings where the missionaries taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Sims and their children ended up joining the Church along with several of their neighbors, many of whose families are represented in the Latter-day Saint congregations throughout the South.
Greg’s grandfather, Leo Sims, grandson of Josiah and Betty Sims, served as branch president of the Mariana, Florida Branch of the Church for eight years. Then he was assigned to the Stake High Council for many years, traveling to his assignments, often two hours one way for a morning meeting, and then an evening meeting before making the return two-hour trip home. He set the bar high for dedicated and exact service for family members to follow.
Greg was born August 13, 1959 in Mariana, Florida to Charles and Linda Bess. His father was a high school basketball coach, and found coaching opportunities in Canton, Georgia and then Attapulgus before the family finally settled in Bainbridge, Georgia when Greg was in the fifth grade. Charles continued to coach and eventually became Superintendent of the Decatur County School District. Charles believed in hard work and doing your best and instilled those characteristics in Greg at a young age.
Growing up, Greg was always one of only two or three teenagers in the branch and usually the only member of the Church at his school. For many years, he traveled with his mother thirty miles one-way to church every Sunday morning, back home for lunch and a short rest, then they back again for the afternoon sacrament meeting. It was a great time for them to talk about the Church and the events going on in their lives. All the students at school knew Greg was a Latter-day Saint and became accustomed to seeing him at school banquets making his way across the room with the traditional glass of iced tea to pour it out and refill it at the water fountain. In many ways, Greg was a quiet, but strong example of his standards and beliefs.
Greg inherited a love of basketball from his father. He had dreams of playing college ball and received a scholarship from Auburn University. However, when a coaching change occurred at Auburn, the scholarship was revoked. So Greg headed out for his freshman year at the University of Alabama. Here, he and his roommate became famous for their “home-cooked” meals. Their specialties were fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler. In fact, he is also a great biscuit maker! Greg learned his cooking skills from his mother and both grandmothers.
In May of 1982, Greg finished his four years at Alabama and was accepted to dental school at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB). Before starting dental school at UAB, Greg went home for the summer and worked for the Georgia Board of Education doing construction and maintenance work, everything from roofing to electrical work, to mowing school yards. However, the most important event that summer was when he asked his high school sweetheart, Brenda Mitchell to marry him. She said yes, and they were engaged on May 14th.
In the summer of 1983, Greg began having some problems with his stomach and eventually was diagnosed with an ulcer. He returned to school in the Fall, but by late October his symptoms worsened and doctors thought he had a form of hepatitis. When he didn’t respond to treatments, and after three weeks, the final diagnosis was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer.
Treatment was difficult and made him very ill. His dental school professors tried to convince Greg to take six months or a year off from school and re-enter when his treatments were complete. However, Greg was determined not to quit school. He never missed more than a day of classes with each treatment, and was able to maintain his grades. Some may call him stubborn, but his stubbornness saw him through a very difficult time. The doctors were amazed at the way Greg handled treatment and attributed much of his recovery to his positive attitude. Greg knew his positive attitude was due, in part, to a special priesthood blessing he received.
Cancer was a turning point in Greg’s life. Trials in our lives have a way of making us look at who we are and what we are doing with the knowledge Heavenly Father has given us. Greg’s mother and grandparents had taught him the gospel all his life. During college and dental school he went to church, but not every Sunday. His activity in the Church was minimized as he spent more and more time studying and doing other things. Having cancer was a big “wake-up call” for Greg. He realized he needed to make some changes in his life; and change he did. He began attending church the way he knew he should, and he developed a great appreciation for everything Heavenly Father had blessed him with.
Greg and Brenda went ahead with their wedding plans and were married on a scorching day, July 14, 1984. Brenda joined the Church one year later, and on May 3, 1986 they were sealed in the Atlanta Georgia Temple. They lived in Birmingham and enjoyed many church callings. Greg’s first calling was to teach the 12 and 13 year-old Sunday School class. They enjoyed cooking together and cooking out with friends from church and school.
In June of 1986, Greg graduated from dental school. However, by then he had decided he didn’t want to be a dentist or orthodontist. What Greg really loved was surgery. He applied to UAB for an oral and maxillofacial surgery residency. He was one of two accepted that year. But this meant he had to go back and complete the last two years of medical school and then enter a three-year residency.
Their first “child” was Uno, a little Chinese Pug. She was difficult to handle and made Kyle, their first son, born on November 5, 1986, seem like an angel. Between completing medical school and moonlighting in emergency rooms around Birmingham, Greg saw very little of Kyle. To ease this situation, Greg would sometimes take Kyle with him on these moonlighting adventures. On August 13 1990, Abby was born on her father’s birthday. What a surprise and a great gift she was. When Kyle was 4 and Abby 1o months old, Greg finished his residency and they moved to Dothan. Carter was born eight months later.
Moving to Dothan gave Greg a little more time to enjoy some of his great loves, hunting, fishing, playing golf and going to the beach. He also spent much time coaching baseball, soccer, and basketball. In January of 1998, Greg was called as Bishop of the Dothan 1st ward, and Mitchell came into the family 10 months later.
Greg feels the best thing about being bishop has been working with the youth. He loves the youth. He enjoys being involved with young men and women as they make very important decisions in their lives. His advice to the youth has been and still is, “Do it because it is the right thing to do.”
On April 25, 2004, Gregory C. Bess was called to serve as Stake President of the Dothan Alabama Stake. His counselors are James Parker and Gerald Carroll. There are 3,251 members in the Dothan Alabama Stake. This past year, reflecting the message of one of his favorite hymns, “Because I Have Been Given Much, I too Must Give”, President Bess challenged members to not let a single day go by without doing a good deed for someone.
I love you Dad!
Rebecca and I lived in Lafayette (at Liberty Square) for our Sophomore year. We were (and are) the best of friends…we went to movies together, we ate sushi together, we ran and trained for half-marathons together, we stayed home on the weekends to watch hallmark movies and childhood favorites like Andre (I may or may not have balled my eyes out after watching that movie…if you watch it, you might ask me why I cried…little things get to me, ok?? :), we went to gym classes together, we listened and laughed at each other talking in our sleep, and we had every class together…we did everything together. She has been in New Zealand the past 4 months and I have missed her like crazy. BUT SHE COMES BACK TO PROVO IN 15 DAYS!!! This will be the best reunion ever, tears will be involved. But back to this summer. Me and Becca had both been accepted to go to a study abroad in New Zealand. Becca did a lot of research about it and talked me into going. I think I initially ended up wanting to go because I couldn’t imagine living without her as my roommate. In order to go to New Zealand, we both had to stay here for spring and summer terms to take classes. We both love home and that did not sound too enticing, but we knew that we had each other and that we could do it. So we did.
We wanted a change of scenery, so we decided to move to another building in Liberty Square called Jefferson (literally 15 steps across the parking lot). In one dreadful day and late through the night, we moved all our stuff across the parking lot and up 3 flights of stairs. We were cursing ourself for doing this because we were running in a half-marathon in just 2 days. We finally moved everything in and eventually got settled. There was an opening social on May 1. Me and Becca were exhausted from moving and it was so gross with rain and snow outside that we almost did not go. But we both decided we would go check it out. We went and there was Korbin Blunck, the ward executive secretary meeting everyone and telling everyone to fill out our membership data. I just thought he was the cutest thing ever. He ended up sitting at me and Becca’s table, along with his other roommates. Becca broke her fork while eating a pancake and we all just made small talk and got to know each other. We got our pictures from a girl, Haley Bennett, for the ward directory and she ended up being our roommate for summer term. We found out that Haley played tennis and she was a funny girl. She introduced us to a lot of people in the ward.
Me and Becca went back to our apartment, talking about the cute boys (Korbin Blunck) and fun people we saw there. We were really excited to be with all these new people. Before long we heard a knock on the door, there was the red headed Haley Bennett and Korbin Blunck, tennis raquet in hand. They asked us to play tennis with them. I cannot tell you how excited I was. I remember I wore my Bama t-shirt and my white tennis skirt. It turned out to be a beautiful day. This was the day that started our regular tennis games between me and Becca, Tyson and Korbin. We played so much that spring and that’s how I really got to know Korbin. We would always switch up the teams and I loved playing against and with Korbin.
I knew I was very interested in Korbin, but I thought there was no way he would like me back. I was leaving to go home for Carter’s graduation at the end of May for a few days and he was leaving to go to Lake Powell and California for 2 weeks. I was so sad he was going to be gone for so long. He texted the night before I left and asked me to go long boarding with him. I was so excited, yet scared out of my mind. I was so nervous. I must have walked to the door 3 times before I finally left. The thing was I had final and homework to finish and on top of that we had cleaning checks to be done before that next day and it was already around midnight. I didn’t care. I went anyway (and was so nervous). I had never long boarded before, but we just long boarded all around Provo talking. We stopped at this gazebo that is past Center Street in Provo at this pretty old building. We stayed there talking forever and lost track of time. When Korbin looked at his watch it was 2:30!!! Oh my goodness, I still had homework, cleaning, and studying to do! I came back to a note that said “don’t worry about cleaning, I already did it!…AB + KB (you wouldn’t even have to change your initials!!!)” from Becca. Haha little did I know how true that statement really would be! We went on our first real date to Los Hermanos, Nickelcade, and to his friend Roger’s house. We’ve been together ever since! Needless to say, I did not end up going to New Zealand. Heavenly Father had different plans for me. I have missed Becca so much and there has been many tears shed because she hasn’t been here, but it was good for both us. She has had the time of her life in New Zealand and now I am marrying the best boy I know.
Korbin and I did a lot of fun things like go to the Manti Pageant (and got there when there was only 20 minutes left :))
We made cookies on Sunday nights.
We went to a real rodeo together (in Spanish Fork, where I will be teaching 2nd grade!)
We floated the Provo River together (with Mitchell! and almost froze to death!)
We rode four wheelers on the side of a mountain to the windmills.
He came to Alabama (and had his first boiled peanut!!!).
We went to Crooked Island, FL (his first time on a Florida Beach!).
He took me to my first concert ever, John Mayer!
We ran every step of a half-marathon together.
We had a picnic in the canyon!
We went to see the lights at Temple Square in Salt Lake City in December.
We saw David Archuleta with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!
We brought Alabama to Utah and made some fried okra!
We went to a BYU basketball game together (my first one!) and cheered on Jimmer.
We saw the ice castles in Heber!
He came skiing in Park City with my family!
We celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together.
and now we are engaged!!!!!!!!!
The night he proposed was so busy. I knew that he would be proposing soon because I had actually given him a diamond. The diamond I gave him was the diamond my Grandaddy gave my Yaya when they got married. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to wear the same diamond that my Grandaddy gave my Yaya to wear. I know my Grandaddy would be so proud. On March 19, we had a lot planned. We watched the BYU basketball game win, we went to one of our favorite places in Provo called Thai Ruby, then I got us tickets to see Comedy Sportz. Comedy Sportz did not get out until about 11:45 so I thought for sure it wouldn’t be that night. We got out of Comedy Sportz and it was raining and cold. He said “Hey, my friend said there is this really good Chinese restaurant near here, we should go see if we can find it.” We never found it. Then he said, “Are you thirsty?” We went and got a drink. He kept looking at his watch and I was a little suspicious, but it was just too late. Then he said “We should go back to Liberty Square and reminsce where we first met!” This is when I started getting nervous. All this time he was stalling because the gazebo wasn’t ready yet. We went to Liberty Square and just drove through the parking lot. He looked at his phone and then said, “We should go to our gazebo!” I think at this point was when I knew what was fixing to happen. We got to the gazebo and got out and it was beautifully lit with mason jars and candles, flowers, petals, and pictures of us. It was perfect.
He gave me this beauty.
I am still in shock I think and can’t believe it is really happening! We are so happy and excited for July 9, 2011!