The King visits Killough for 80th birthday party

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Nearly 75 friends and family members recently gathered to celebrate the 80th birthday of long-time Butler County resident Ova Killough.

&uot;Miss&uot; Ova’s actual birth date is January 20, but the celebration kicked off early with a birthday bash on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 16 at Union Baptist Church in Honoraville.

Miss Ova’s three daughters – Debbie Stafford of Birmingham, Sara Torruella of Foley and Orange Beach and Angie Long of Honoraville – organized the event.

Family friends Betty Carl Thomas, Debbie Massey, Patricia Massey, Leigh Ann Myrick and son-in-law Benny Long assisted with food, decorations, serving and clean up.

The church’s fellowship hall was decorated in Miss Ova’s favorite shades of pink, purple and white in honor of her special day.

Crepe paper streamers festooned the pillars in the center of the room. A lavish bouquet featuring fresh purple irises, white lilies, pink roses and purple carnations, created by Forget-Me-Not Florist’s Retha Snell, graced the pink-clothed refreshment tables. Treasured photos of the honoree throughout the years were also on display.

An array of sandwiches, cheese straws, veggie bites, nuts and mints were served to the guests, along with sherbet punch, coffee and ice water. The &uot;sweet tooth&uot; of any guest was satisfied with a slice of the delicious birthday cake beautifully adorned with pink and lavender icing roses.

The King meets the Queen

Miss Ova was presented with a corsage featuring pink sweetheart roses, purple carnations and baby’s breath. A rhinestone tiara and fluffy hot pink feather boa completed the festive look for the &uot;queen for the day&uot;.

The birthday girl was completely taken by surprise when the musical entertainment arrived

– a handsome dark-haired gent in sunglasses, clad in a white jumpsuit trimmed with purple jewels.

Yes, Elvis himself (a.k.a. talented entertainer Bill J. Brooks of Tupelo) had entered the building, and was soon serenading the honoree and her guests. Brooks performed a number of the King’s big hits and lesser-known tunes, along with some old-time gospel favorites such as &uot;I’ll Fly Away.&uot;

The entertainer’s performance won raves from many of the guests.

&uot;He was great – what a wonderful voice! I had a blast,&uot; said guest Sue Arnold.

Youngest daughter Angie Long explained how the special appearance by &uot;Elvis&uot; came about. &uot;When I took Mama to Bill’s concert for senior citizens last year in Greenville, I saw how much she enjoyed it. She kept talking for days afterward about the concert. Since we were planning to have some type of celebration for her 80th birthday, I talked to my sisters about arranging to have him come for her party.&uot;

Among out-of-town guests present were Dan and Phyllis Killough, Mobile; Danny Killough, Katy, Texas; Becky Champion Grove, Montgomery; Antonio Torruella, Foley and Orange Beach, and Heather and Erik Lambert and Erwin Franklin, all of Birmingham.

From the hills of Tennessee

Ova Dell Wood Killough, born in Tennessee on January 20, 1925, was one of nine surviving children born to itinerant Baptist minister Jessie Ellis Wood and his wife, Sarah Belle Brewer Wood.

Born in Putnam County, Ova moved to the Cumberland Plateau as a young child. She grew up near the town of Crossville, home of the First World War’s greatest American hero, Sergeant Alvin York.

Ova recalls long, cold winters where &uot;one snow would hardly melt off before we’d get another big one.&uot; She enjoyed ice-skating and admits tagging along after her adored brothers (&uot;I was a tomboy&uot;) was another favorite activity.

This former jitterbug queen also played basketball on the school team.

After high school, Ova studied to become a practical nurse and was offered the opportunity to travel to India to work and obtain her R.N. degree.

To the Heart of Dixie

However, her life took her in a different direction – into the Heart of Dixie.

Future husband Joe Killough was a military policeman at the German P.O.W. camp near Crossville when the two met. When Joe accompanied those German prisoners back to Europe, he carried a wallet photo of Ova with him aboard the Liberty ship.

The couple married in March 1946 and made their home at the Killough family farm in eastern Butler County. After an extended illness, Joe, her husband of 57 years, passed away in March 2003.

Ova was a nurse at the old Speir Hospital in Greenville and later, worked in the late Dr. Phillip Speir’s office. She also spent many hours on the family farm, doing everything from feeding the cattle and chickens and hoeing the garden to putting up countless canning jars filled with homemade jellies and preserves.

A skilled seamstress, Ova also kept her three girls well dressed for school and church.

Active in community

A member of Union Baptist Church for more than 50 years, Miss Ova has served on numerous committees, taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School classes, and still sings with the church choir. She was an active member of the (now defunct) Order of the Eastern Star in Honoraville.

Miss Ova, who has helped organize countless bridal and baby showers, is famed for her chicken salad sandwiches and shower punch (both of which were served at her party).

For many years, she also volunteered to drive people to medical appointments in Greenville and Montgomery.

Miss Ova still enjoys participating in church activities and is a member of the Secret Sisters at Union Baptist. She is also actively involved in the Honoraville Senior Nutrition Center, where she visits with friends and works on quilting projects.

She enjoys reading cozy English mysteries and devotionals, is a devoted Tide fan, and likes to watch &uot;Jeopardy&uot; and &uot;Wheel of Fortune&uot;.

Four of her siblings – sisters Ada, Lilly and Maxine and a brother, Orly – are still living and reside in Tennessee.

Miss Ova has three grandchildren, Heather Lambert, Shannon Franklin and Erwin Franklin; a &uot;darling&uot; step great-grandchild, Hope Lambert, and one eagerly anticipated great-grandchild on the way.