Edith Isabel Bush Shores loved to tell stories. She lived a storied life.
She was born in Paris in 1924. It was a small town in Kentucky.
When she was four, her family moved to Norton, Virginia and that is where she spent most of her early years with her two sisters, Carolyn and Lillian, and her two brothers, Walker and Charles. Her father, Isaac Walker Bush, was a respected salesman but when the Great Depression hit, he had to travel further and further from home to make a sale. Her mother, Anna Louise Bush, was a devout Christian who taught her children to live by Methodist beliefs and treasure Methodist hymns.
Edith loved to walk in the forest covered mountain slopes of Norton. When she was fifteen she came down with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a disease carried by ticks. She also suffered constant respiratory problems because the air in Norton was filled with coal smoke. Later in her life she enjoyed looking at the Norton website where the coal mining town turned resort area was described as “the clean little town.”
Her doctor brother-in-law, Hunter Goff, and her nurse sister Carolyn invited her to come and live with them in Alabama. They thought the clean air of Rockford would do Edith good. She finished high school and graduated with honors. She also went with Hunter on house calls at night so Carolyn could stay home with her children Bill, George, John, and Joan.
Travelling with Hunter Goff, she helped deliver babies and saw people living in abject poverty. There she found her mission in life… She wanted to be a Methodist preacher serving a rural church and helping people improve their lives. But it was unheard of for a woman of her time to serve that role.
After high school she returned to Norton and worked as a secretary in a law office. She saved money from her job for two years and received a scholarship which allowed her to go to Tennessee Wesleyan College in Morristown.
While in school there she was active in Holston Methodist conference activities and talked with people about the needs she saw among rural people and how the church could address those needs. The seed she planted then became a job for her later, but first she had to finish college.
She majored in religious education and English at Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia, then returned to Morristown, Tennessee where her new job was waiting for her. The Holston Conference of the Methodist Church employed her as a Rural Church and Community Worker, a new job they had created based on her suggestions.
For two years, Edith Bush traveled across east Tennessee doing health care and social work while providing spiritual leadership in rural communities. She taught Sunday school classes, led youth groups, and filled the pulpit for pastors. As a youth leader she brought a group of young people on a mission trip to Alabama where she met Methodist minister John Miller Shores whose first wife Tempe had passed away.
Edith’s mission trip to Alabama was brief, but John Miller wrote to her and came to see her in Tennessee. After a while, the two decided to get married and work in ministry together. The marriage of a minister in his 50s to a woman in her late 20s was scandalous to some, but they had a great partnership.
As a pastor’s wife, Edith Shores continued doing social work and spiritual education in the churches her husband served. Their ministry took them to Haleyville, Centre, Winfield, Ensley, and Leighton. When John Miller purchased a farm near Winfield, they settled there and served two churches in rural Fayette County, Musgrove Chapel and White Springs. They raised a son, Max, and taught him to live by Methodist beliefs and treasure Methodist hymns. She loved to sew, embroider, crochet, knit, and cook huge meals with fresh vegetables from the garden. She also loved to go fox hunting with John Miller, spending nights listening to the dogs and telling stories around a campfire.
She kept up with things in Tennessee through her sister Lillian, who she visited in Chattanooga. She also loved to visit her sister Carolyn in Rockford and keep up with things there.
Her life was blessed by the fact that John Miller had children from his first marriage who were close to her age. She loved Heth, Marjorie, Carolyn, and John like brothers and sisters. They were always welcome in her home, and their children were all loved deeply as well.
When Max got older, Edith taught English at Marion County High School in Guin for a while and then worked as a secretary at the Fayette County Extension Service office for several years.
After John Miller died, she sold the farm and moved to Alexander City. She became active in First United Methodist Church there. She was also active in the Alabama Emmaus community, an experience of Christian spiritual renewal.
She also spent a good bit of time in Montgomery helping her son Max raise his daughter, KT. She knew KT was special all along. Just seeing KT always made her smile.
In 1992, Edith moved with her son to Tuscaloosa and became a part of Forest Lake United Methodist Church. She was a member of the Aldersgate Sunday school class and the United Methodist Women. Along with Lib Powell, she created a church prayer chain so prayer requests could be communicated to participating church members, originally by telephone and later by email. The prayer chain is still active today.
When Max married Cindy, she not only gained a daughter-in-love, she was blessed with two more grand-daughters, Mary and Myra. She enjoyed watching them grow and mature.
As her health declined, she was no longer able to be active in the church, but she loved to tell stories from her life experiences and talk about the people she knew and cared about. She spent her life helping, encouraging, and inspiring people wherever she went, and she had many stories to tell.