After a lifetime of working to serve others, a retired Lula Phillips still won't let up. She continues serving her friends and community by working as The News' Sidney community correspondent.
Though she didn't grow up in Sidney and isn't even an original Arkansan, Lula said she is happy to keep everyone posted on the goings-on in Sidney.
Lula grew up in Missouri where she met her husband Donald Gene who originally hailed from Sidney.
They lived and worked in St. Louis County, Mo., where Donald worked as an air traffic controller and Lula taught second grade.
In June 1977 the couple traveled home to Donald's old stomping grounds in Sidney.
The following school year Lula took a position teaching kindergarten for the Evening Shade School District.
After over a decade as a kindergarten teacher, Lula decided it was time for a change. "I just knew I wouldn't be able to play on the floor with kindergarteners forever," she said.
She began attending night and summer classes at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro until she earned her second master's degree certifying her as a school guidance counselor. "My husband would tell me, 'you might as well go ahead and get your doctorate so I can call you doc,'" Lula said, laughing.
She said she was proud of her decision to change from teaching to counseling. "I loved being a counselor," she said. "It was nice to be able to work with an older set of kids and was always rewarding to help them get scholarships and get prepared for college."
After nine years as a guidance counselor and over three decades working in public schools, Lula retired. "You know, I always loved school. I was always ready to see the end of another school year, but I was also the happiest to go back," she said. "But I put in my time. I was ready to slow down."
Lula did try to cut back; however, her break was short-lived.
Long-time Sidney correspondent Eva Helms passed away, and Lula was asked to assume the responsibility, she said. "Different people asked me to (be the community correspondent), and I?knew people enjoyed reading the Sidney news -- I was happy to help," Lula said.
Besides knowing that her news is read, Lula said she likes to do the writing because it keeps her mind fresh. "I love to read, do jig saw puzzles -- I try to do things that will help me," she said. "Though it's not always easy -- it can be like pulling teeth to get information -- doing this keeps me sharp."
"But really, you don't realize how much people care about (the community news), but they do. I?got a letter from someone from California who thanked me for doing the Sidney news. Things like that are what make the work worthwhile," Lula said.