|Mrs. ThomasEna (“Tommie”) Lankford of Sunset Avenue, Louisburg, died at midnight, Thursday, May 18, 2006, in Rex Hospital, Raleigh, surrounded by her children. Mrs. Lankford, the only child of the late Thomas A. Gandy and Irene (“Ena”) Hendley Gandy, was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina on December 1, 1920. She was the salutatorian of the Class of 1937 at Wadesboro High School; in 1941, she was graduated from Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNC-G), where she was a member of the Cornelian Society. Mrs. Lankford remained active in alumnae affairs all her life until advancing illness forced her to surrender the position of chairman of the 65th reunion of her class earlier this month in Greensboro.
Mrs. Lankford was descended from the early families of Orange County, NC; Society Hill, SC; and Charles City, Va. While interested in her family’s genealogy, she maintained all her life that the actions of the individual in the present determined one’s worth. Her life was a model of civic and personal concern. Particularly after the 1975 death of her husband, James Paul Lankford, Jr., originally of Isle of Wight County, Va, Mrs. Lankford dedicated her life to volunteer work through her church, in her community, and into the world beyond. She was an outspoken champion of all that was right and fair and honorable. In the 1980’s, Mrs. Lankford was honored by the city of Raleigh for her dedicated volunteer service, and in 1991, she was chosen as the State Volunteer of the Year by the North Carolina Library Association.
Though she and late husband reared their four children primarily in Franklin, VA, in 1974 they moved to Raleigh in her much-loved home state of North Carolina. From 1974 to 1989, she was a resident of Raleigh, a member of First Presbyterian Church, and an admissions counselor at Rex Hospital. In 1988, she moved to Louisburg, where her many activities with Louisburg Baptist Church, the Tar River Baptist Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, the Garden Club of Louisburg, the Louisburg Book Club, Franklin County Regional Medical Center, among others. She was a tireless advocate for causes that ranged from civil rights, literacy, and the treatment of the elderly to migrant workers’ living conditions and the preservation of native plants and wildflowers. In earlier years as an elementary and middle school teacher in Aulander, NC and Franklin, VA, through her final years as a volunteer tutor at Louisburg High School, Mrs. Lankford was known as a disciplined educator with an unfailing sense of humor and enthusiasm. The complete loss of her family’s early 1800s home in Anson County to fire in 1924 was one of Mrs. Lankford’s earliest and most vivid memories, and directly led to her interest in preservation of the state’s historical properties. She undertook the restoration of two homes on her own, one in Raleigh and one in Louisburg. Both homes are pictured and described in the Architectural Inventory of Historic Properties of North Carolina.
Mrs. Lankford is survived by her children: Paul Gandy Lankford and his wife Deborah of Virginia Beach, VA; James Rodney Lankford and his wife Susan of Cary, NC; Constance Lankford Chase and her husband Randall of Trumbull, CT; and Melody Lankford Worrell of Ft. Myers, FL. In addition to a wealth of loving neighbors and friends, Mrs. Lankford leaves as her legacy for the future her grandchildren: Alexander Lee Chase and Gregory Lee Chase of Trumbull, CT; Alan Hendley Churchill Lankford of Virginia Beach, VA; and Robert Edmund Faulkner, Jr., Jane Robinson Faulkner, and AnnaChristian Henley Lankford of Cary, NC. Her beloved parakeet Buddy was her constant companion in her final years.
A funeral service will be conducted at Louisburg Baptist Church on Sunday, May 21, 2006, at 4:00 in the afternoon by the Rev. Reggie Rushing. A graveside service will be held the following day on Monday, May 22, 2006, at 1:00 in the afternoon in the Lankford family plot at Beaver Dam Baptist Church, Carrsville Highway, Franklin, VA. The Rev. Dr. Richard Peerey and the Rev. Dr. Ira D. Hudgins will officiate. Visitation for family and friends will be held at Strickland Funeral Home, Louisburg, on Saturday evening, May 21, from 7:00 until 8:30.
Memorial donations may be made in Mrs. Lankford’s memory to Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, P. O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607, or to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, in care of Advancement Services, P. O. Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402.
Arrangements are being handled by Strickland Funeral Home in Louisburg, and Wright Funeral Home in Franklin, Va.