Donna Tootle is retired from a 30-year teaching career, but six grandchildren keep her quite busy. Alex, her husband, shares in these grand-parenting duties, too.
“Since both our daughters are public school teachers, Alex and I often are the ones attending out-of-town sporting events and taking the grandchildren to various appointments,” Donna said. “But I love it, being involved in their young lives and spending that time with them, usually on a daily basis with at least one of them.”
Donna’s parents are the late Duann and Elbert Kicklighter, and Alex’s parents are the late Birdie and Wilton Tootle, all of Glennville.
Alex’s mother had several unique experiences — being struck by lightning three times, and she survived all three. The first was the most severe, when Alex was just an infant and a few feet from her; Ms. Birdie spent six weeks in the hospital recovering from the strike, having to learn to walk and talk again.
Donna has one brother, David, who owns his own veterinary practice in Savannah, 204 Animal Hospital. He and his wife, Sue, have one daughter, Rachael, who has a five-month-old daughter, Audrey.
“David and Sue are overjoyed with their first grandchild,” Donna said.
Alex has two sisters, Brenda (John) Durrence, who live in the Gooseneck community, and Kimi (Dana) Hammock, who make their home in the Tison area of Tattnall.
Alex is retired from a 23-year career at Plant Hatch, and he was a member of the Union of Operating Engineers.
While Alex stays busy tending to the family pecan tree and pine tree farm, he also does a lot of grand-parenting.
Donna’s 30-year career in education inspired both their daughters to enter the field of education.
Donna began her teaching career at Seckinger Elementary in 1974, and she taught first, second, and third grades in addition to serving as a reading specialist. In the mid-1990s, Donna re-located to Tattnall County High School (TCHS), where she served as the Family and Consumer Science teacher, in the education facet of mentoring and preparing students who were choosing a career path as a teacher.
In 1999, she continued in education, but as Director of the Glennville campus of Southeastern Technical College (STC). She was an ideal choice for this position, since it came at a pivotal time for many people in Glennville. The textile factories had just closed, and hundreds of employees, especially women, needed to find a new vocation.
“Many chose business, computer technology, nursing, or medical assisting programs, which gave them the training they needed to find a new job with higher pay,” Donna said.
Donna earned her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Six-Year degrees from Georgia Southern University (GSU), and the couple’s daughters, Lori and Katie, have also earned all three degrees.
Lori Tootle Dutton is a Special Education teacher at Glennville Elementary School (GES), while her husband, Jonathan, is the Vice President/Branch Manager of the Claxton office of South Georgia Bank.
Their three children include Anna Kate, 18; Pearce, turning 16 this month; and Dalex, eight years old.
Anna Kate is at an exciting time in her life, with her graduation from Pinewood Christian Academy (PCA) this Saturday. She will be attending the University of Georgia (UGA) in the fall and plans to major in Psychology to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Pearce runs track and plays football at PCA, and he will be a junior next year. Dalex, who will be a third grader next year at GES, simply loves to be outdoors, and he plays soccer at the Glennville Recreation Department.
Katie Tootle DeLoach and husband Cal are parents to three children, also: Wilton, Cali, and Miles. Katie is the Family and Consumer Science teacher at TCHS, and Cal owns his own construction company, Hat Creek Construction. His business includes mainly construction for Zaxby’s restaurants, which takes him across the Southeastern part of the United States.
Wilton, 14, will be a sophomore at TCHS this fall, and he enjoys playing on the school tennis team. Cali, 11 years old, will be a seventh grader at South Tattnall Middle School (STMS) next school year, and she enjoys cheerleading and tennis at STMS. Miles, four years old, is a 2022 graduate of Busy Little Beavers Christian Preschool, and he will be attending preK at TCHS this coming fall.
Donna enjoys traveling, and sites visited have included Alaska, Hawaii, Italy, England, and France. She also enjoys trips to the beach and the coast, where she likes to fish.
“I am always ready to go somewhere, and I have quite a few places left on my bucket list, such as to the wine country in California and to Buchartd Gardens in Victoria, Canada, which is above Oregon and Washington. I also enjoy cruises,” she said.
Other favorite pastimes are reading and playing Canasta with several other ladies.
As of April 13, 2022, Donna celebrated her five-year anniversary of receiving a new heart valve, aortic aneurysm repair, and a new pacemaker.
While on one of her trips, Donna noticed that she was tired more than usual, so she visited the doctor for a check-up. Since her last visit six months before, the doctor diagnosed a heart murmur and leaking valve. While in the hospital for the repair of the aneurysm and aortic sheaf and the placement of a pacemaker, Donna “coded” three times, two times during surgery and three days later while in her hospital room talking to a nurse.
“Yes, it really scared me, and I am thankful for the pacemaker and the meds that allow me to continue to be active,” Donna said.
Donna also serves as a director of Glennville Bank, and she enjoys this involvement in the financial realm.
When it comes to cooking, Donna said that with Alex’s diabetes, she seldom bakes desserts. She likes to prepare vegetables; Mexican dishes, such as casseroles and salads; and Alex grills steaks and seafood quite often.
Donna and Alex are members of Hopewell United Methodist Church.
“This is a comfortable time in my life, being able to have my daughters and their children so close by, and also enjoying the things I love to do. I definitely feel blessed,” Donna said.
Donna Tootle’s Recipes
DR. BIRD CAKE
2 cups mashed bananas
2 cups sugar
3 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1-1/4 cup cooking oil
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups finely chopped nuts
Mash bananas. Sift dry ingredients and add to bananas. Add undrained crushed pineapple, cooking oil, vanilla, and eggs. Mix well until blended (Do not beat.) Stir in finely chopped nuts. Pour batter into a greased tube pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree F. oven for 1 hour and 20 to 25 minutes. May glaze with powdered sugar mixed with lemon juice or orange juice.
CONGEALED STRAWBERRY BUTTERMILK SALAD
1 large pkg. strawberry gelatin
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup chopped nuts
1 (20-oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 (8-oz.) container Cool Whip
Mix gelatin and pineapple in a large saucepan. Heat on stove until gelatin dissolves. (Do not boil.) Allow to cool. Mix in buttermilk, pecans, and Cool Whip until blended. Pour into an 8”x12” dish or bowl. Refrigerate.
2 cups whole kernel corn, drained
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Mix all ingredients together before serving. Great with barbecue.