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Weekly 150

JT and Robye Lindsey: The Hallmark of Kindness

Part I

Posted 2/11/20

In 2014, I met the kindest and sweetest couple, I believe, to ever live in McKenzie. When I married Brittany, Robye and JT Lindsey didn’t know me from Adam’s cat, but they were so warm and inviting it was as if they were family. I honestly believed they were some distant aunt or uncle on the Washburn side I’d missed.

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Weekly 150

JT and Robye Lindsey: The Hallmark of Kindness

Part I

Posted

In 2014, I met the kindest and sweetest couple, I believe, to ever live in McKenzie. When I married Brittany, Robye and JT Lindsey didn’t know me from Adam’s cat, but they were so warm and inviting it was as if they were family. I honestly believed they were some distant aunt or uncle on the Washburn side I’d missed.

From weddings to baby showers to church events the Lindseys were there for us. As I’ve told this story to others, it is always returned with a nod or smile and with an affirmation of their kindest to everyone. This week I feel it is time to share the story of the Lindseys.

JT Lindsey was born November 12, 1930, to James Ewell Lindsey and Clara Thompson in Danville, Alabama. Robye McCalla Lindsey of Brighton, Tennessee was born to Otis and Ella McCalla. After graduating from high school, Robye moved to South Carolina to attend Erskine College. Returning home to Brighton with her degree she took employment in the Civilian Personnel Office at the Millington Naval Air Station.

JT enlisted in the Marine Corps and was stationed at the Millington Naval Air Station. He became friends with a Marine from Brighton and met Robye while visiting the friend’s home. JT and Robye were married on May 29, 1954, and moved to Birmingham, Alabama. In Alabama, JT received his degree from Howard College School of Pharmacy.

In 1959, the Lindseys noticed an advertisement in a newspaper that read “Cannon Drugstore in McKenzie, Tennessee For Sale”. They wanted to move back to Tennessee. So they decided to visit McKenzie and check things out. The Lindseys knew immediately McKenzie was where they wanted to live.

In September 1959 they moved to McKenzie. Cannon’s Drugstore was located on the west side of the square on Broadway Street in what is now Carroll Insurance. Robye said, “The Turner Cannon family was so helpful and kind in helping us get ‘settled in’ at the store. They introduced us to everyone who came in and told us a little about them.”

“Nell Brush and Byron Pate were employees who had worked there for several years and continued to work for us. They were so much help.”

JT had worked in Rexall stores which had soda fountains before purchasing Cannon’s store so he decided to use one corner of the store as a “coffee bar.”

The Lindseys along with their 2-year-old son, Keith, moved into the upstairs apartment of the big two-story house on Stonewall across the street from what was Brummitt Funeral Home. Within a week, the newly arrived family made lifelong friends.

“A day or two after we moved in, Keith wanted to go outside to play. I had just sat down on the front porch to watch him when this lady walked up, introduced herself as Elizabeth Burroughs and explained that Stonewall was a very busy street and it was dangerous for a child to play so close to the street.

“I thanked her and from that day the Lindseys and Burroughs became friends. To be a friend of Dean Burroughs you were a friend to Bethel College. We have enjoyed all sports, musical programs and all events at Bethel for 60 years.”

In September 1961, the Lindsey’s second son, Tim, was born. Robye was the bookkeeper for the drugstore and did most of her work from home so she could be with her boys until they were school age.

When the young couple lived in Birmingham they had been Cumberland Presbyterians so they transferred their membership to the McKenzie Cumberland Presbyterian Church where they would eventually serve as elders, Sunday school teachers and would work with the youth groups.

The drugstore’s name was changed to Lindsey’s Rexall Drugs when it was relocated to Cedar St. in February 1965. The new drugstore went into want was the U-Tote-Em grocery store on, two buildings down from the Park Theatre.

It was a pharmacy but more importantly, it had a soda fountain. Many high schoolers would “hang out” there but between classes, Bethel students walked down the railroad track to have a milkshake.

At the beginning of the fall semester, a guest book for Bethel students was placed out front for them to sign when they entered the drugstore. “That old book tells many stories and brings back many memories,” lamented Robye.

The relation between Bethel and the Lindseys was cemented in 2014 as the university inducted JT and Robye into the school’s sports hall-of-fame. In their induction it notes the following:

“The ‘old soda fountain” was a major gathering place for Bethel students and faculty. The Lindsey’s became mentors to most all they came in contact with. Lifelong relationships were formed that exist until today.

“JT and Robye have “adopted” Bethel students and coaches from all sports through the years and have always been passionate supporters at home and on the road. They have taken students into their home and been stand-in parents for many international students.

“Their services have varied. They have greeted and sold tickets for various sporting events. Whether it was old Dishman and Baker Fieldhouse, the old McKenzie High School, the new Dishman and now the new Crisp Arena, the Lindseys have always been there. It hasn’t mattered what conference or who the opponent has been, they have always supported their beloved Bethel student-athletes.”

Lindsey’s Rexall Drugs was sold in 1979 but the friendships made at the store were very special to Robye and JT Lindsey. The drugstore had many employees throughout the years, and the Lindseys were also thankful for them.

Next week, I will share a few memories from past employees that Robye still calls her kids.

Jason R. Martin

B.S. • M.A.Ed • MLS

Councilman, Ward II

Rotary Dist. 6760, Asst. Governor

WestStar Class of 2019

P: 731.352.3323

E: jmartin@mckenziebanner.com

Jason Martin is a life-long resident of McKenzie. He graduated from McKenzie High School in 2000; earned a Bachelor of Science in History from Bethel College in 2004; a Masters in Education from Bethel University in 2009 and a Masters in History and Humanities from Fort Hays State University in 2011.

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