The children of Everett and Lorena Grubbs hosted a family reunion in Madison on Saturday. The are, back row: Norma Elaine Grubbs-Goode, Debra Lynn Grubbs, Everett Anthony Grubbs, Jerry Wayne Grubbs, Lorena Jean Grubbs-Esper and Larry Grubbs. Middle row: Susan Gayle Grubbs-Mullins, Rosalie Grubbs-Koester, Mary Jane Grubbs-Hall. Front row: (Uncle) Sam Grubbs, Donna Carol Grubbs-Parker, Kay Estel Grubbs-Greene and (aunt) Mildred Grubbs. Not present were Alan Dean Grubbs, Anna Beatrice Grubbs-Johnston and Doris LaVerne Grubbs-Purdom. (Staff photos by Elliot Tompkin/etompkin@madisoncourier.com)
The children of Everett and Lorena Grubbs hosted a family reunion in Madison on Saturday. The are, back row: Norma Elaine Grubbs-Goode, Debra Lynn Grubbs, Everett Anthony Grubbs, Jerry Wayne Grubbs, Lorena Jean Grubbs-Esper and Larry Grubbs. Middle row: Susan Gayle Grubbs-Mullins, Rosalie Grubbs-Koester, Mary Jane Grubbs-Hall. Front row: (Uncle) Sam Grubbs, Donna Carol Grubbs-Parker, Kay Estel Grubbs-Greene and (aunt) Mildred Grubbs. Not present were Alan Dean Grubbs, Anna Beatrice Grubbs-Johnston and Doris LaVerne Grubbs-Purdom. (Staff photos by Elliot Tompkin/etompkin@madisoncourier.com)
Our story begins in 1929 when Everett Grubbs and Lorena Thornton were married. They promised to love one another for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health.

From that union came 15 children who, on occasion, may have tested their parents' commitment to those vows. But Everett and Lorena had something special going.

They loved life ... They loved each other. And they loved kids.

First, there was Mary Jane. She was followed by Anna Beatrice and Julia Louise and Doris LaVerne and Norma Elaine and Helen Patricia and Kay and Rosalie and Everett and Alan Dean and Lorena Jean and Jerry Wayne and Donna Carol and Susan Gayle and Debra Lynn.

And those 15 children begot more children. And those children ... well, you can imagine the rest - the math gets complicated.

On Saturday, nearly 100 of Everett's and Lorena's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered at the Brown Gym to celebrate their rich family history.

Everett and Lorena would be so proud.

On this day they came to celebrate their good fortune of being a part of this family that for 59 consecutive years has gathered once a year to catch up on the past year's accomplishments and disappointments. This year there were new faces - barely newborns and a few new members to the family. There were a few faces missing - too ill to travel or too far away to make the trip.

Those who crowded into the Brown Gym this day were young and old ... tall and short ... thin and not-so-thin ... outgoing and soft-spoken.

Everett and Lorena would be so proud.

Some were dressed to the nines. Others wore shorts and flip-flops. Two beautiful little girls were dressed in their Sunday best as they girly-girled throughout the gathering, milking the crowd for compliments.

Seeing them reminded several of Everett's and Lorena's children of those Saturday nights growing up when Mom and Dad made the kids shine their shoes and lay out their clothes for church the next morning.

"After church, those clothes came off and went back into the closet until the next Sunday," Mary Jane Hall, the oldest of the kids, recalled.

There were school clothes, work clothes and church clothes. And two pairs of shoes - one black, one white. Every year after Everett sold his tobacco crop, the kids got new shoes.

These are church-going folks. Saturday's gathering opened with a prayer. That faith has guided this family through the years.

Everett and Lorena would be so proud.

Now, when you've got a family this large, it's possible that names and faces might be forgotten. But, once introductions were made it was as if they had known each other for their entire lives. They are, after all, leaves on the Grubbs' family tree.

The Grubbs kids are so very proud of their Mom and Dad. "Mom would do anything for anyone," daughter Mary Jane said. "There was no such thing as a stranger. There was always room for one more plate at the table," she said.

A difficult time came in 1951 when Everett lost a leg in a bulldozer accident on a Kentucky hillside. He was down for a while, but the family relied on its faith to carry on.

Another sister, Lorena Jean, told of how her parents gave so much of their time to the community. "Mom gave countless hours to the Senior Citizens' Center where one year she was named the Senior Queen, and Dad always was willing to help anyone who had a need," she said.

Everett and Lorena are buried at Grandview Memorial Gardens just north of Madison.

Some of their 15 children - Tony, Donna, Debra and Mary Jane - live nearby; others have moved away.

To all, though, Everett and Lorena remain close in their hearts.

That's why they've met every year for 59 straight years to affirm the values and love their parents taught them.

Everett and Lorena would be so proud.