Patti Needham enjoys retirement with her husband
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Jun 05, 2013 | 1602 views |  0 comments | 95 95 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patti Needham will never forget the day she moved to Piedmont. It was the day Gov. John Patterson was inaugurated as governor – Jan. 19, 1959.

That year she was in fourth grade in Vera Blackwelder’s homeroom at Frances E. Willard Elementary School.

Her parents are Virgie (Long) Ray and the late LeeCoy Ray. Her father was born and reared in Goshen Valley, and he wanted to come home.

Patti and her husband, Charles have three children. Amy Stinson and her husband Chris live in Alpharetta, Ga., with their daughters, Ansley, 6, and Kylie, 5. Amy teaches second grade in Alpharetta. Their daughter, Julie, lives in Piedmont and teaches second grade at Piedmont Elementary School. David lives in Los Angeles and is enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Southern California studying biological oceanography. Patti’s brother, Michael, lives in DeLand, Fla.

Patti said she’s proud of all of her children and would like to think that her daughters chose teaching as a career because she and Charles taught. Between them, they have 84 years of teaching.

Charles taught in the Piedmont High vocational department before going to the Central Office. He retired from there, then taught at Haralson County High in Tallapoosa, Ga., eventually becoming principal. Since their retirements, they have started walking the Chief Ladiga Trail for exercise, as well as enjoying the serenity.

Patti was librarian at Piedmont Middle School for 30 years. She retired and was librarian at Westside Elementary in Cedartown for 12 years.

She said she decided to teach because she had such great role models as teachers. Some of them were Marie Hendrix, Mary Hughes and Maxine Johnson.

“They just inspired me to have a love for education and a love for schooling,” said Patti. “They always seemed to love what they were doing and enjoyed helping kids, and I wanted to do the same. It just made for a wonderful career.”

Looking back on her career, Patti said it was the perfect job for her.

“It opened up a lot of doors for friendships with students and teachers alike,” she said. “That’s been a glorious part of my life. I’m a people person. I love being around people and enjoy those who share the same passions as I do.”

Patti earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Jacksonville State University.

She said to be truthful she became tired of the drive to Cedartown, and that’s one of the reasons she made the decision to retire.

“I felt like it was time,” she said. “Also, technology was becoming such a big part of teaching. Even in the library there was a lot of technology. It was like they were wanting children to read books on computers as opposed to handling books and turning the pages. I just didn’t know if I could make that transition.”

She missed teaching when she first retired and, she continues to miss it in many ways today.

“After that long, when your body does something for 42 years, it’s hard not to get up early in the morning and rush out the door,” she said. “It was really hard to begin with, but I’ve managed to get used to it.”

The Needhams are members of Piedmont Cumberland Presbyterian Church where Patti has played the piano since she was 13. She began taking piano lessons from Vera Jo (McAbee) Myers when she was 9.

“I was raised in that church,” she said. “I’ve been going there 54 years and playing the organ and piano for 50 of those years.”

She said she feels that being able to play the piano is God’s gift to her and she tries to use it to enhance the worship of her church. She also sings solos occasionally, and teaches a Sunday school class.

Patti said she stays busy with family, church, friends and cooking. She has a lot of recipe books and goes online to Pinterest to find new ones.

“I love to try new things,” she said. “I have a brand new kitchen and I’m excited about getting in there and preparing meals. Of course, it’s just the two of us now. I’d rather cook for big groups. My mother loved to cook. Before I got married she made me plan one meal a week so that I would be somewhat prepared. Of course, she helped me. I think that’s the way young women need to learn.”

The Bread Pudding recipe was a favorite of her parents and many people at church. She takes the Broccoli Salad for church dinners because a lot of the women like it. The Salisbury Steak and Rotel Chicken dishes are favorites of her family.

Contact Margaret at


Bread Pudding with Foamy Vanilla Sauce

6-8 biscuits
3 eggs
1 ½ c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
3 T. butter

Soften biscuits in water enough to soften and mash them. When softened enough, drain excess water. Melt butter in a square casserole dish which has been sprayed with Pam. Add eggs, sugar and vanilla into softened biscuits. Pour into melted butter dish. Bake at 350 degrees until firm and golden brown.

Foamy Vanilla Sauce

1 c. sugar
½ c. milk
1 T. flour
¼ c. shortening
1 egg, separated
1 t. vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, milk and shortening in a boiler until boiling. Cool slightly. Temper the egg yolk and add with vanilla. Beat egg white until stiff. Slowly add egg yolk mixture to egg white, beating with mixer until well blended. The sauce will separate, leaving a frothy layer on top. Spoon onto a serving of bread pudding.

Waldorf-Broccoli Salad

1 bunchy broccoli
1 c. raisins
½ c. pecans, chopped
2 unpeeled red apples, chopped

Cut florets from stalks. Add remaining ingredients.


1 c mayonnaise
½ c. sugar
2 T. white vinegar

Mix and over salad. Set in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.

Salisbury Steak

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1 small onion, chopped
½ c. milk
¼-½ c. oatmeal or flour
1 t. salt
Dash of pepper
1 can beefy mushroom soup
Flour for dredging

Combine meat, egg, onion, milk, oatmeal, salt and pepper. Form into equal size patties, 4-6. Dredge in flour. Brown in skillet. Place patties in a large baking dish. Cover with beefy mushroom soup. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Excellent gravy for creamed potatoes or rice.

Rotel Chicken Casserole

4-6 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup of chicken broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 lb. Velveeta or Velveeta queso, cubed
12 oz. spaghetti
2 c. grated cheddar cheese

Mix soup, broth and Rotel. Add remaining three ingredients. Pour into a 9x13 casserole dish. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted.
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Patti Needham enjoys retirement with her husband by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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