- Cullman, Alabama


March 25, 2013

Melda Ponder Ragsdale

CULLMAN — Melda Ponder Ragsdale

Mrs. Melda Ponder Ragsdale, 94, of Cullman passed away peacefully at home Saturday afternoon, March 23, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. Her son, Larry, Barbara and grandson, Mike, were with her during her last hours.

A wife, mother, homemaker, business partner with her husband, Carlton Cornell Ragsdale, during his life, and a faithful follower and worker at First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, from her birth, Mrs. Ragsdale epitomized the very essence of a quiet Southern woman.

A devoted and much-loved only daughter of her deceased parents, George W. Ponder Sr. and Pearl Sims Ponder, she always was determined to do her best at whatever she undertook. She attended Sacred Heart High School for girls and later married Carlton, her high school sweetheart.

She and her family lived in the same historic neighborhood for three-fourths of her life, first in the Ponder home on Highway 278 East, then after her marriage in her new residence two blocks over on First Street Southeast. She and Carlton raised three boys there: George Carlton Ragsdale, Larry Leroy Ragsdale and Ronald Albert “Ronnie” Ragsdale.

She served on PTAs, as a Cub Scout leader and was a participant in all things related to her children. During their childhoods, the family often traveled to Guntersville to spend summers and weekends there with their Ragsdale and Ponder family and friends, bringing other young folks along to “play.” She cooked constantly to feed the visitors, fished as much as she could with her mother-in-law, Lillie Ragsdale, and friend, Velma Chandler, and shared the unique love only she could give. Their cousin, Joyce Ponder, and friend, Alice Chandler, spent fun times with them and just ask David Moss and David McKoy to tell you some of their “experiences” in Guntersville!

When her husband, Carlton, founded Ragsdale Hardware Store in downtown Cullman, she worked beside him, riding a bike with George in the handebar basket to work each morning! When they moved in the 1960s to a farm on Fromhold Road and raised chickens and a massive garden, she was right beside him. When he entered the home construction business and built a subdivision on part of their property on St. Joseph Street Northwest, she was at his side coordinating colors, bath fixtures and appliances.

When Carlton began his association with the Tennessee Walking Horse world, he and his favorite horse, Slip, and the family traveled around to competitions in the South. Melda’s tailgating food was a highlight for the many show folks who crowded around their vehicle each weekend. They made lifelong friends among the horse association family during those successful competitive years.

After spending 20 or so years on the farm, they decided it was time to retire and they moved to her mother’s last home after her passing, one block from the original Ponder homeplace. She was back in familiar territory once again.

Melda and Carlton dearly loved spending time with their grandchildren, David, Mike and Joe, who always were eager to go to them as well! While Carlton was not around to enjoy his great-grandchildren, Melda took much pride in Jayne, Kelsey, Carlton and Holly. Her face lit up whenever they were around as did the kids. Love reciprocated! Thank you all for the special love and affection you shared with Grandmother Melda.

Their retirement years gave Melda and Carlton much joy as they took to the road, first in a car, changing motels every night. Once back from that initial foray, they became a “motor home” couple, or as Carlton’s dad, Carl C. Ragsdale used to call it, a “roadhouse.” Their motoring outings took them all over the United States and provided not only them, but some of their friends with great travel experiences. Their pal, Gracie Grissom, can testify to that! Their “fun” ended when Carlton began to experience serious strokes, declining health and then death on Nov. 5, 1991. Melda was a 60-year member of the Cullman Chapter No. 35 Order of the Eastern Star organization and served in many capacities, including Grand Matron.

She worked in numerous offices and positions in First Christian Church and was a talented seamstress, joining with the ladies of the Christian Women’s Fellowship in making various quilts, Christmas ornaments and sundry items for their Christmas bazaar and Soup Day, which was held every November on election day. She delighted in discovering new designs for the varied Christmas patterns she so diligently crafted each year for family and the bazaars. Thanksgiving always was special, as she presented her children and grandchildren with their “new” ornaments, which had been kept a “secret” all year long as she worked on each delightful pattern.

She learned the art of perfection from her mother, Mama Pearl, and even the stitches on the backs of her quilts were as perfect as the front! When her quilts, handiwork and baked goods were entered in the annual Cullman County fairs, she always came home with blue ribbons for her expertise. After Carlton passed away, Melda, Barbara and Frances Norton made numerous trips to places of interest, making many precious memories of sites, laughter, stories from their past and fun. Oh, for the good ol’ days once again!

Melda gave her heart and soul to her beloved church, and when the congregation had to disband in 2010, only she and Dorothy Henderson were the original oldest attending members. At that time, the church building was only three years away from turning 100 this year, 2013.

Following Carlton’s death, she continued to live in her home until the tornado of April 27, 2011, tore through Cullman and destroyed it. She was in the hospital or she would have been a casualty as all the trees in her yard were uprooted and landed on her roof and fell through into the house. Dr. Michael Hall saved her life, once again, as he had put her in the hospital for pneumonia that very morning! She was 92 at the time.

Following the destruction of her home on Seventh Ave. Southeast, she moved in with her son, Larry, and Barbara for the remainder of her days.

Mrs. Ragsdale was preceded in death by her husband, Carlton C. Ragsdale; her third son, Ronald A. Ragsdale; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Ponder Sr.; three brothers, Albert Ponder, Elbert E. Ponder and George W. Ponder Jr.; and Carlton’s parents, Carl Cortez and Lillie Harris Ragsdale.

She is survived by two sons, George Carlton Ragsdale of San Marcos, California, and Larry Leroy Ragsdale Nad daughter-in-law, Barbara Gootee Ragsdale of Cullman; three grandsons, David Allen Ragsdale of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, James Michael Ragsdale and his wife, Angela Herschede Ragsdale of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida; and Joseph Carlton Ragsdale of Panama City Beach, Florida; four great-grandchildren, Jayne Elaine Ragsdale and Kelsey Anne Ragsdale of Jacksonville, Florida, Carlton Strauss Ragsdale and Holly Camille Ragsdale of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida; two sisters-in-law, Frances Duke Ponder of Birmingham and Judy Jordan Ponder Fehler of Cullman; a nephew, George W. Ponder III of Cullman; three nieces, Suzy Ponder Eidson of Callaway Gardens, Georgia, Joyce Ponder Cahoon of Birmingham and Linda Battles of Jasper; and Pat Eddleman Ragsdale Hyland of Shelbyville, Tennessee.

Most of her contemporaries are waiting for her in heaven, but her very special “family friend,” Freda Thompson, who herself is 101, has been her “phone” connection on a daily basis for many, many years. Thanks, Freda, for being there during her lifetime! You two shared so very much history together dating back to your teenage years! She loved you dearly.

Special thanks to Hospice of Cullman County workers and especially Darlene Smith; to Lisa Phenicia from Oxford Health Care; and to Melda’s favorite doctor, Michael Hall, and his “right arm,” Paulette Lackey Trimble. You all are blessed and you have been a blessing to the Ragsdale family all these years! You were so special to Melda (and us).

The funeral will be at Moss-Service Funeral Home Chapel, Wednesday, March 27. Visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m., with the service beginning at 11 a.m. Preachers will be Rev. Robin Lambert and Rev. C.J. Cobb, former pastors of First Christian Church. David Christopher, former music minister at First Christian, will sing three of Melda’s favorite religious hyms: “He Touched Me”, “In The Garden”, and “On Eagles Wings”.

Pallbearers will be her grandsons, David, Mike and Joe; and great-grandson, Carlton, with Pat Spiegle from the former First Christian Church, and Gary Murphree, lifelong friend of the family.

Interment will be at Cullman City Cemetery, but there will not be any graveside services there.

In lieu of flowers, if you wish to memorialize Melda, please make a donation to your favorite charity.

(Melda Ponder Ragsdale was a quiet, refined woman who did not seek attention or the limelight. This obituary is written with great love, as a testament to the life she lived, the love she shared and to the spirit she leaves behing. You will be missed, dear Melda, and never forgotten. Rest in peace.).


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