Two women at the bookends of Rutherford County have left long-lasting foot prints that younger generations would do well to follow as role models into the future.
Murfreesboro’s Mary Scales and Smyrna resident Katherine Walkup, both of who died the first week in October, tailored their lives around God, family and community service — with community sometimes seemingly coming before family, depending on the urgency of situations.
We thank their families for decades of sharing these tireless-working volunteers dedicated to the betterment of their respective communities and citizens.
Mary Scales and her husband, the late Robert "T-90" Scales, were groundbreaking brave and wise citizens during their entire lives’ investments in Murfreesboro society, especially in regard to education and civil accord between races.
Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg touched on the impact left in the wake of the Scales family.
“Their leadership truly brought the community closer together, to love one another,” Bragg said. “Mary (Scales) was always concerned about others, especially caring for children, their education and well-being.”
Robert Scales became a legendary community leader back during the 1960s period of heated civil unrest in America, when he stopped a bus filled with civil rights activists on the outskirts of Murfreesboro, while sharing his personal creed: “Here in Murfreesboro, it’s learn, baby, learn, not burn, baby, burn.” As a result, visitors on the bus bypassed staging demonstrations on the streets of Murfreesboro.
Public education has been at the core of the Scales family, even to the point, Mary Scales and Robert Scales, a former councilman and vice mayor of Murfreesboro, continue reaching back to the community from their graves with the perpetual Robert T-90 Fund at Scales Elementary School.
Mary Scales, the first black faculty member at Middle Tennessee State University, was the first black female elected to the Murfreesboro City Council and help found the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund of Rutherford County.
Katherine Walkup and her family asked that memorials be made to the Smyrna Public Library, the historical Sam Davis Home and Smyrna Church of Christ Missions Fund.
Its library's origin goes back largely due to the efforts of Walkup, former Smyrna Mayor Knox Ridley and Doss O’Neal, father of Smyrna Town Manager Mark O’Neal.
“Mrs. Walkup, Mayor Ridley and my father were on the initial founding committee back in the 1960s, in establishing the initial Smyrna Public Library,” O’Neal said. “And countless are the hours and resources she invested in the preservation of the Sam Davis Home that attracts thousands to our city each year. She also served tirelessly on the board of directors for today’s modern Linebaugh Library System.”
And just like mother, daughter Betsy Waldron is a tireless volunteer at Smyrna Public Library.
Walkup also served as a charter member of the Rutherford County Historical Association, as well as on the board of the Rutherford County Nursing Home.
“It’s people like this who form the bedrock foundation of our very livable and progressive town today,” O'Neal added.
There are community builders, and there are community takers.
As true volunteers, Walkup and Mary Scales devoted their lives to giving to this great community that we are blessed to live in beautiful Middle Tennessee.