HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Most people hope that when they leave this earth, in some small way, they’ve made a difference. Velma Sebring of Scottsboro certainly touched a lot of lives.
She loved teaching Sunday school. “I started when I was 17,” Velma told me when we visited at her home a couple of years ago. She was 97 at the time.
Velma had been teaching for more than 80 years. “I think a hundred,” she said laughing. She remembers first teaching at Randall’s Chapel United Methodist Church. “And we set out there on a log and I had 10 girls,” she recalled.
A few years later, she married and moved to the Baptist church. “When I learned better,” she said with a laugh. She taught Sunday school at Center Point Baptist for more than 75 years. She had no idea how many students she’d had. “There’s not any telling,” she said.
She’d lost count. “I see people coming up to me at church now, little kids, and they say, you taught my daddy in Sunday school,” Velma told me. I asked if she had any plans to retire from teaching. She smiled and said, “When I die. I think that’s it, when I die.”
Her service to God and her church family was recognized several years ago by the governor and congress. “I never dreamed anything like this would be in my life,” she said, “I never dreamed it.”
In fact, she was a little embarrassed about all the attention. “I think so,” she said, “I don’t like it if they ask you to stand up in church or something to recognize you for something, I don’t like it.”
After 81 years, she retired from teaching Sunday school class in 2019. Velma Sebring had a gift. “I think the biggest thing in my life that touches me more than anything is when you can help other people,” she said humbly.
I called Velma a little more than a year ago just to see how she was doing. She told me she was still at church every Sunday and they’d just had revival. She was there every night and told me she was revived.
I’ll never forget her saying during our conversation, “Always do what’s right.” Words to live by. Velma’s family and friends contacted me several weeks ago to tell me that she passed away Sunday, June 14th. She was 99.