Valdosta Daily Times

Breaking News:

Local News

July 21, 2013

Mullis family celebrates 65th family reunion

VALDOSTA — For more than half a century, the Mullis family — and related offshoots of Wilson, Weeks and Harnage — have been gathering together once a year for family and fellowship, and this year, this weekend, they celebrated their 65th family reunion in Lowndes County.

It's a tradition with origins reaching back to World War II, a story of overcoming a tragedy.

After enlisting in the Army Air Corps, James Wilson found himself on the crew of a B-24 Liberator, a heavy bomber that saw extensive service in World War II. In a tragic accident during a training mission in October 1944, Wilson's plane clipped its left wing tip on Camel's Hump, a mountain in Vermont, and crashed. Of the crew, only Wilson survived, though not unscathed; due to the frostbite he suffered at the crash site before being discovered, Wilson lost both hands and both feet, which were replaced with prosthetics. Not one for giving up, Wilson obtained his law degree, setting up practice in Denver, Colo., where the cooler weather was easier on his prosthetics.

It was Wilson's survival, recovery and dogged determination which led the Mullis family to gather and celebrate in 1948 in the front yard of a family member's home on Gordon Street in Valdosta on a Sunday afternoon.

They enjoyed it so much, they decided to do it the next year, and the next.

But the family was growing, as families will, and

in the early to mid 1950s, they decided to hold the yearly reunion at the 4-H Camp in Lake Park.

“It was mostly adults in those years,” said Gail Eicher.

“When we started coming out here, there was no air-conditioning,” said Joyce Melugin, who had driven in this weekend from Texas. “We had to fight the heat and the snakes.”

In addition to moving it to the 4-H camp, where it has been held ever since, the reunion also started getting longer, slowly adding days until it was where it is now, starting Thursday and running through Sunday.

“We show up on Thursday and wait for them to open the gates,” said Melugin. “The first day is for visiting and catching up.”

Friday evening is marked by a traditional fish fry, followed by Saturday, which is mostly given over to fun, games for the kids, a talent show and awards.

“We hit a point where a lot of the children were backing out and stopped coming,” said Ruthie Mullis Gay, who acts as treasurer for the reunion. “We started doing the entertainment, the games and the talent show to try and draw the kids into it.”

Throughout the weekend a silent auction is held, the money from which is put back into next year's family reunion. Indeed, the whole thing is run like a small company, with different people in charge of different committees: Planning, Entertainment, Cooking. It's a lot of work, but it's work that the family shares.

For years, to even get a spot at the 4-H camp in the summer, family members had to camp out at the commissioners office. Now, registration is handled by lottery: everyone interested enters on the first work day of the new year and then numbers are drawn.

While they're a tight-knit family, member are spread across the United States. It's not unusual to find people at the reunion who have driven a thousand miles or more to attend; the family has even started presenting an award for whoever drove the furthest.

“Family is important,” said Gay. “On the face of this Earth, family is the most important thing.”

“The little ones, they are so excited to come back each year,” said Eicher. “They can't wait to get here. Even though some of them don't see each other but once a year, it's like no time has passed.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 140417-Rail_Plan-001.jpg State Transportation seeks public input on rail plan

    The Georgia Department of Transportation held public meetings across the state this week to discuss its 2014 Georgia State Rail Plan.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140417-valdosta_appr#10C8BA.jpg Officials serve lunch to city employees

    The City of Valdosta hosted its annual employee appreciation luncheon Thursday at John W. Saunders Memorial Park.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140417-Wiregrass003.jpg Wiregrass learns through play

    For three years, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College has hosted its Wired Up! event to engage students, faculty and staff in a fun but educational activity day.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • rain.jpg More spills? Valdosta braces for more rain

    In the past four weeks, Valdosta has experienced four major rain events that dumped more than three to four inches of rain on the area per incident.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140117-Scott_SGMAC-001.jpg Moody in running for Afghan pilot mission

    Moody Air Force Base is one of three military bases being considered for a temporary mission to train Afghan pilots next year, Rep. Austin Scott told the South Georgia Military Affairs Council Thursday.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • City: Most overflows stopped

    The City of Valdosta reported Wednesday evening that all manhole overflows resulting from Tuesday’s heavy rains had stopped, with the exception of two.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140416-gov_deal002.jpg Signed into law

    Gov. Nathan Deal went on a signing tour Wednesday across Georgia, flying into the Valdosta Regional Airport to sign three bills into law.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 2 charged in N.C. kidnapping

    Two more people were charged in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father, bringing the number to at least eight people who authorities say were involved in the elaborate plot.

    April 17, 2014

  • VSU opens spring senior art show Saturday

    Several graduating art seniors will present their show this weekend at Valdosta State University.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results