Presley Castleberry Family Scholarship
My Mother, Ruth Esther Castleberry Presley was a wonderful nurse. Her family was very poor. Most families were in those days following the depression. But the Castleberry family was hit hard. Having lost the family farm, my grandfather, Joseph C. Castleberry, worked the land and most any paying job he could find to make ends meet. The family home had no electricity or running water. Light came from kerosene lamps. Water was carried in buckets from a distant spring. It was Mother’s responsibility to milk the cow before school every morning for the milk, butter, and cream they would use. Work continued year round, but spring and summer meant everyone worked the garden to provide food for the table and more which was canned for the winter. My grandfather also cared for his parents and his wife’s parents. They all lived in the small home. Six adults and four children were a lot of mouths to feed, but my grandfather met these obligations with courage and good humor. To Mom, he was a hero.
Despite what the family lacked in material things, they abounded in things of character. Mother said she learned about hard work in the day-to-day living of that time with her father working hardest of all. She learned of fairness from her father.
He loved equally and gave from what little material things he possessed equally. She learned strength and confidence from her father. He taught her to overcome obstacles in many simple life lessons. She saw his compassion and patience in caring for his aging parents. He was a person of his word and always fulfilled his obligations, both financial and personal. From his example she saw what it meant to “keep your word.”
And she learned from him well. So, when she declared she would attend nursing school but with no idea of how to meet the school’s required tuition, he saw within her strength and resolve, perhaps a reminder of a kindred passion not unlike his own. Amazing even her, he sold the family milk cow to help her fulfill her dream. This was a sacrifice for the entire family, which she perhaps felt, but as a result loved all the more and gave back with her care into future generations.
To all that he had instilled in her, she added the knowledge of her profession. She practiced that profession with meticulous care and compassion, discipline and concern, toughness and tenderness. Her knowledge was a huge asset since, at one time or another, she cared for all of us—Granddaddy, Grandmother, my father, my father’s family—so many of us.
Returning to my hometown after college as I did, I’ve had the opportunity over the years to work with many doctors and nurses who also worked with my mom, and nurses whom she mentored as students. And I’ve spoken with many who benefited from her ministrations. They all agree, she was a wonderful nurse.