Kaye Brandon spent 10 years working for Yadkin County schools and was raised in the downtown area of Yadkinville before going away to college.
Despite her small-town background, Brandon is a well-traveled individual having even lived in Europe for a few years.
“It was absolutely idyllic small town USA growing up in Yadkinville,” Brandon said. “I would walk to school, I’d walk by Dad’s business after school, I’d pick up a quarter for a snack at the drugstore where I would hang out with my friends. All the things that you picture childhood in the 1950s were, I lived it.”
Brandon went on to Salem College after her high school graduation where she studied piano and French.
“French grabbed my attention and immediately after college I went to Europe, where I studied for a while and I met my first husband,” Brandon said.
“In many ways living in Europe is a hands-on experience,” Brandon said. “You don’t just get in your car and drive to work and then stop by the supermarket. There’s much more integration in the actual living of life.
“You do much more on foot,” Brandon continued. “The proximity of physical activities like swimming, or hiking or skiing was very handy for us.”
Brandon would return to Yadkinville in 1976 with her husband and two young daughters. She would go on to teach in the romance language department at Wake Forest University for five years before moving into the public school system.
She taught French and Latin at Reynolds High School and Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem for several years before coming home to wrap up her career.
Brandon acted as director of testing and technology for Yadkin County Schools for 10 years before retiring in 2005.
“I think when I was a little girl I liked school, and I liked my teachers. I think all of that made me think that teaching would be good,” Brandon said.
Brandon says that at the time she went into teaching it was a common career for women to pursue.
“I grew up in an era before women became as career minded as they are now,” Brandon said. “The stereotypical picture was that you would go to college, you would get a teacher’s certificate and teach a few years. And then you would stop teaching and have your family. I became very engaged in teaching and I taught the whole time.”
Brandon said since retiring she has taken up gardening, a passion she always wanted to pursue.
“My initial gift to myself when I retired was hiring the services of a garden designer because I had always thought that I wanted to have a garden,” Brandon said. “That was a big part of my focus, and now I have that in hand.”
Brandon also decided to revisit the piano, something she had not practiced in 45 years. She said that she gave herself a new piano as a 70th birthday gift from her late parents and has spent the last year taking piano lessons.
When she’s not taking in her favorite hobbies, Brandon is serving in her position as president of the Yadkinville Rotary Club.
“I think the first draw to Rotary Club for me were the people in Rotary whom I know are much of the backbone of Yadkinville,” Brandon said. “They are people who have strong community spirit and want to see Yadkinville doing well by all of its residents.”
Brandon said that as she’s become more and more involved in Rotary she has seen the good it can do for the community and the passion and energy of its members.
“As I have been active in Rotary this year I’ve seen the extensive amount of good that the club tries to do within the community,” Brandon said. “I’ve seen the generosity of club members and the energy that club members put into raising funds that helps us help the community.”
Brandon said that she and her husband, Tommy, of nearly 13 years travel as much as they can. They frequently visit Europe, Arizona and make trips to see Kaye’s daughters at their homes in Anchorage, Alaska.
Brandon said that despite her love for travel she will continue to live her life in Yadkinville. She says she feels it’s in her genes to settle here.
“My fourth great grandfather, Zachariah Shuggart, was a pioneer in Yadkin County and my thread of the family for eight generations have all lived in Yadkin County,” Brandon said. “We’re pretty much rooted here.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.