Finding The Girl Who Liked The Name Candy

She never really liked her name, and around the time she was a ninth grade student, she decided if she had a choice, the name she would pick for herself would be Candy. That was the first of several remarkable happenings that would later come to light when the family she had spent most of her adult life searching for finally made contact with her. Also at this young age, one of the things she often did in art class was sketching trees with far reaching branches. So it was quite eerie when, in December of 2010, she opened an envelope containing what she believed to be a Christmas card, and there on the front of the card was an almost identical tree to the one she sketched in art class so many years ago. But this piece of mail turned out to contain a letter, not a Christmas card as she had first thought. And after reading that letter, her life would be forever changed. Here is the story of how Wanda Gene Maynord Loque, who, after years of searching, finally made contact for the first time with her father’s family.

The story begins with an ole-time gospel Baptist preacher, Noah Russell Maynord and wife, Lena Idella Glasscock Maynord, who lived in the Allons community of Overton County. The Maynords were the parents of nine children whose names were Haston (Hack for short); Velia; Vella; Barnie; Ruth; Hoy, Kennith; Margaret; and Elizabeth. Noah Maynord passed away in 1946 leaving his wife, Della, to raise the children by herself. Della was known by everyone as "Mommie," and is remembered as being a wonderful mother and grandmother. She was a hard worker, and for several years, she served as a telephone operator in the Allons community. She loved growing flowers and doing handwork, and made many quilts that she often gave to her children or sold to people in the community. Hack, the oldest of the nine children, started high school in 1935. He was a member of the Boys Glee Club, played in the band, and was a member of both the football and basketball teams. A classmate and high school friend, E.B. Gray, who was a couple of years younger than Hack, described him as someone who was very popular in school, especially with the girls. One of the things E.B. especially remembers about Hack was the fact that he always wore nicely starched white shirts. Hack worked helping to build many of the buildings and other projects involved in the construction of Standing Stone Park through the WPA program. A story handed down in the family tells how he may possibly have played football for a junior college in Mississippi prior to beginning a military career.

Hack joined the Navy in 1941, and following his marriage to Bertha Mary Jones, the couple lived in various naval ports for the next seven years. It was while they were stationed in New Orleans that on July 30, 1947, they became the parents of a baby girl. Hack and his sister, Vella, were always close, and when he called to tell Vella about the new baby, she couldn’t have been happier to hear the news. Not only was she glad to hear from Hack, but was especially happy because the tiny baby girl had been born on her birthday. It was Vella who suggested the name Wanda Gene.

Being the oldest child in the family, Hack was looked up to and admired by his younger siblings. While in the service, he always sent money home to his parents to help with the care of the younger children. But having special memories or even having the opportunity to remember how it was to be loved by her father was not to be for Wanda Gene. At the very young age of only 33, Hack died in a tragic accident while the ship he was serving on was stationed in Pearl Harbor. A naval investigation reported that Hack’s death was due to injuries he received from a fall of some 40 feet following what officials believed might possibly have been a sleep walking incident. Wanda Gene was only eight months old when her father died. Hack had achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer prior to his death. Following her husband’s death, Hack’s wife, Bertha, moved back to be closer to her mother in Miami, FL. It was there that Hack’s funeral and burial was held. Vadus Cope of Livingston drove several members of the Maynord family to Miami to attend Hack’s funeral. Over the course of the next few years, pictures of Wanda Gene would be mailed to Hack’s family along with letters from Wanda Gene’s mother. After a period of five years, Bertha remarried, this time to someone serving in the Air Force. Wanda Gene was eventually adopted by her step-father, and because he was still in service, the new family lived in many different locations over the next several years. Moving around from place to place, along with the fact Wanda Gene had been adopted and had taken the last name of her step-father complicated the family’s search for her. Following Bertha’s second marriage, contact with the Maynord family back in Tennessee became less and less, and was soon discontinued altogether.

Haston (Hack) Maynord died at the very young age of 33 while serving in the United States Navy.

Even though time went on and family members didn’t hear from Wanda Gene’s mother, this did not mean that Wanda Gene was forgotten about. From time to time Vella and Ruth would often discuss where Wanda Gene might be or what might have become of her. She was quite often the subject of many conversations the entire family had. Mommie Maynord would often call relatives living in the Cora Gables area of Florida to see if any news of Wanda Gene might have been discovered. It was after many unsuccessful attempts were made by Carol Coleman to locate her cousin that she decided to ask Todd Matthews of Livingston to help with the search. Eventually, Todd located an investigator in Miami who was able to provide some information, but contact failed once again.

Hack Maynord was photographed with his baby daughter, Wanda Gene, just prior to his death in 1948.

In the meantime, Wanda Gene grew up, began her adult life, and all the while, she too was searching for the family she had never known. She knew her father came from a community called Allons in the state of Tennessee, and once headed out by car in that direction to attempt to find the Maynord family. She and a friend who accompanied her reached an area Wanda Gene believes may have been around Tompkinsville, KY or even possibly Celina, TN before getting discouraged and turning around. Wanda believed at this point probably no one in that family might still be alive, and to continue the trip would be just another wasted effort. Little did she know that almost 100 members of the Maynord family were yet to be discovered.

When the 2010 Thanksgiving holidays rolled around, Carol Coleman’s daughter, who just happens to have the name Candy, was home for the holiday. It was through Candy’s efforts by way of Google on the internet that she was finally able to locate an address and phone number, along with pictures of not only Wanda Gene, but her son as well. Carol quickly dialed the number to which there was no answer. Many times later, that phone number was called, but each time, there was no answer. Discussions were had at this point that maybe Wanda Gene just didn’t want to be found, or maybe she had no desire to get to know the family that had been so desperately searching for her. But not willing to throw in the towel, Carol decided just to sit down and write a letter. The date was December 11, 2010. In the letter she told Wanda Gene that if she was interested and if she wanted to, she could meet her father’s family that had been trying for years to contact her. Carol also asked that Wanda Gene please get in touch with her. In an attempt to absorb the contents of Carol’s letter, Wanda Gene sat in a state of shock and disbelief. The phrase "if you want to meet your family..." kept coming back to her. "Even only they knew..." she thought, but the irony of it all was they did know. Wanda Gene responded by email and later, she and Carol spoke by phone. Then on the weekend of March 19, 2011, the many years of searching by both sides of the family was finally over. Wanda Gene drove from her home in Florida to Atlanta where she was met by her Aunt Margaret and husband Bob. The three of them then traveled on to Livingston where family members anxiously awaited their arrival. The weekend was spent visiting and getting acquainted, along with some sight-seeing to places connected to Wanda Gene’s father.

A few weeks later, a family reunion was held on May 20-21 at Standing Stone State Park with 84 of the Maynord family members in attendance, including Wanda Gene and her husband who drove up from Florida to meet the rest of the family. Most of the two days were spent getting acquainted, and sharing pictures along with geneology information about the Maynord family. Included in those who attended the reunion were three of the nine children, Vella Maynord Ledbetter , Livingston, Tn., Ruth Maynord Wright, Nashville, Tn. and Margaret Maynord Naar, Atlanta, Ga. Those deceased are: Hack Maynord, Barnie Maynord, Kenneth Maynord, Hoy Maynord, Velia Maynord Oakley and Elizabeth Maynord Upchurch. What began as a very long and seemingly fruitless search involving the Maynord family resulted in a story with a very happy ending.