There’s never been an official title for “most connected person in Tipton County.”
If there were such a thing, there’s little doubt Gladys Whitley, who died April 16 at the age of 90, would have earned that distinction several times during her lifetime.
Known for her gift of gab and outgoing personality, Whitley worked for many years as a First State Bank teller, was an enthusiastic member of the Red Coats and was married to Leader publisher George Whitley, who died in 2007.
She was a resident at Parkway Cover Senior Living in Covington for the last few years, but that did nothing to keep her from remaining socially connected.
Dr. Stan Whitley, her son, said a decision was made to not give her a cell phone at Parkway for safety reasons. No matter. She kept in touch with many, many people the old-fashioned way: via landline.
“I can’t tell you how many people said she called them on her landline, seeing her name come up on caller ID,” Stan said with a laugh. “She was still talking to everybody. She talked more than we imagined.”
The Red Coats were a group of women who worked at area banks. They would go the house of Tipton County newcomers, introduce themselves and give them maps of the county. This went on in the ’80s and ’90s and served the role of a chamber of commerce.
“At the funeral we had several people come up to us say she was the first one they met when moving here,” Whitley said. “They said, ‘She made us feel so good.'”
George Whitley was The Leader’s publisher from 1975 to 2002. While Gladys never worked for the newspaper, she was involved as the unofficial First Lady of The Leader, attending lots of Tennessee Press Association meetings.
“She loved every minute of it,” Whitley said. “With the bank and the paper, she went to a lot of functions and got to know just about everybody in town in some form or fashion.”
Gladys is survived by her two sons, Dr. Stan Whitley and Bret Whitley, and three grandchildren: Anna Whitley Anderson, Jordan Whitley Barron and Ethan Whitley, plus two great grandchildren: Whitley Grace Anderson and William George Anderson.