Tribute to Courage uplifting

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 13, 2003

The letter is simply titled a &uot;Tribute to Courage.&uot;

It was written by a Pike County woman who penned her thoughts in September, but was hesitant to offer them for publication.

&uot;Olene Berry McLeod is more than a beautician and to patronize her salon is to receive much, much more than ‘chat and curl,’&uot; writes Opal Stinson. &uot;She is a tower of strength and an inspiration. Her storehouse of memories is a rich heritage through which she offers tribute to the past, joy to the present and hope to future generations.&uot;

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Mrs. Stinson goes on tell more about Olene, giving us a glimpse of her life.

&uot;Olene graduated from Goshen High School in 1936 under Principal J.E. Jernigan. She then completed requirements for a license in cosmetology at the Pearl Trotter Beauty School in Troy … Olene was soon recognized for her skill and expertise and was sought after by beauty shop owners. She worked for a short while at a shop in Brundidge before accepting a position with a Mr. and Mrs. Howard at a beauty shop in Goshen. After five years there, she worked in Troy with Oleda’s Beauty Shop.

&uot;At the end of World War II, Wilkie R. McLeod returned from active military service in New Guinea to claim his bride, Olene Berry. They married in 1945 and lived in Montgomery where Olene worked part-time. After a return to Pike County for a short time, they returned to Montgomery. This time, with young children, Olene operated her own, in-home beauty shop.

&uot;In 1957, the McLeods returned to Pike County to settle in the

Spring Hill Community where Olene established her own, in-home shop. Now, at the age of 84, Olene still continues to amaze all who know here by ‘fixing hair’ six days a week.&uot;

But that is only the beginning of the amazement, as Mrs. Stinson explains.

&uot;Her customers not only get their hair styled, they enjoy a visit with a long-time and respected friend. They gain a wealth of information about the history and heritage of Pike and surrounding counties. Without even a trace of self-importance, Olene’s conversations reveal a close and meaningful personal relationship

throughout the years with prominent educators, politicians, physicians, ministers and others She stands clear of the limelight, but she herself is a shining example.

&uot;Olene has three children: Cheryl Lee and Husband Ed; Richard McLeod and wife Cathy; and David McLeod. She has four grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and countless friends.

&uot;Eighty-four years old with an on-going career of 65 years can only be described as ‘amazing.’&uot;

The simple letter is much more than a &uot;tribute to courage.&uot; It embodies the spirit of an &uot;unsung hero.&uot; And Olene Berry McLeod is the type of quiet hero The Messenger recognizes each year in its Unsung Heroes edition of Profile. Set to publish Feb. 23, the section will honor the heroes of Pike County – the faithful volunteer; the tireless neighbor who lends a hand; the beautician who &uot;stands clear of the limelight&uot; yet stands as &uot;a shining example.&uot;

And we depend on readers just like Mrs. Stinson to find those heroes.

Stacy Graning is publisher of The Messenger. She can be reached via email at or by phone, 670-6308. Nominations for Unsung Heroes can be made to her via e-mail or by mail to The Messenger, 918 S. Brundidge St., Troy, Ala. 36081.