Archived Story

Community spirit keeps Sedley native fulfilled

Published 12:48pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

BY MERLE MONAHAN/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
merlemonah@aol.com

Anita Felts of Sedley has long been active both in her work as well as community. -- Merle Monahan
Anita Felts of Sedley has long been active both in her work as well as community. — Merle Monahan

SEDLEY–When Anita Felts came off the Southampton County Board of Supervisors, she also became ineligible to serve on a number of committees and boards affiliated with the county board.

Felts said she thought her duties of serving on other committees and boards would probably slack off too, but she thought wrong.

“It seems that for every committee I gave up, another popped up to take its place,” she said.

Felts, 62, believes she has logged more hours on more boards and commissions than anyone in the area. She serves on eight involving activities in Southampton, including chairing the Sedley Recreation Association with which she has been associated since 1984.

Then there is the newest one.

“I was just elected co-chair of the new Nurse Family Partnership, even though, because of another commitment I couldn’t even attend the meeting,” she said with a smile.

Older ones include serving on the board of Franklin Southampton Charities and serving as secretary of both the Sedley Woman’s Club and the Franklin-Southampton Republican Party.

Felts is also a lifetime member of the Sedley Baptist Church, president of the board of Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater and works at the polls every election.

She doesn’t mind, however. Felts said it keeps her aware of the activities in the county and that has always been her passion. She believes her parents instilled in her a sense of community spirit, for she has been a member of the Sedley Woman’s Club for 42 years and on the Recreation board for more than 30.

Born and raised in Sedley, she and Jay Felts of Ivor married when they were quite young, she said. They settled in Sedley. Today, married for 46 years, with two sons and five grandchildren, the couple continues to live in Sedley.

“We love this little village,” Felts went on. “It has always been home to me and of course, later on, to Jay. We started our business here.”

She adds that because she is self-employed now, she has the time to volunteer and admits that she enjoys being involved.

Her husband agrees.

“I can remember when she had a meeting every night of the week,” Jay said, adding with a wink, “I think she’s forgotten how to cook.”

Felts first started volunteering, she said, when her boys were in grade school.

“I was a little league coach for T-ball and girls softball,” she revealed with a grin.

She was a member of the school PTA and drove the students to baseball games. All during this time, Felts held down full-time jobs, the last being at a doctor’s office in Franklin and spent her free time helping her husband at the family business.

In 1991, though, tragedy struck Felts’ family, when her youngest son, Travis, was involved in a pickup truck accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

“It was devastating,” she said. “First we were afraid he wouldn’t live and when we knew he would, we worried about how he would manage.”

“The first thing I did,” Felts added, “was to take a six-month leave of absence from the doctor’s office where I worked to be with Travis while he recuperated.”

With courage, determination and a wonderful rehab center, Travis is now fully self-reliant and works every day in the family business. He has done so well, in fact, that he, along with his mother, has been called on to counsel other patients.

The young grandmother smiles when she tells of the things Travis is capable of doing.

“They taught him at the rehab center how to go up and down an escalator in his wheelchair,” she said.

“Jay and Travis and a couple of their male friends were in a mall Christmas shopping once when Travis did this, to the amazement of a little elderly lady who stood transfixed while she watched him travel alone to the top floor.”

Felts said Jay was afraid the lady was going to faint, so he stayed until he was sure she was all right before he left.

After the leave of absence, Felts said she did go back to work at the doctor’s office, where she had worked for 25 years, but really wasn’t satisfied, so left to work full-time in the family business.

Today, she, her husband and Travis work 12-hour days, counting the time it takes to travel to and from their shop on Carolina Road in Suffolk.

“Sometimes it takes even longer,” Felts added, “because we’ll deliver parts to some of our customers on the way, or we’ll strop and eat.”

Still, she is happy with her commitments.

“My husband calls me a workaholic and I suppose I am. But I can stand to be idle for just so long before I must get busy doing something,” she said.

NAME: Anita T. Felts

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I was born here

HOMETOWN: Sedley

OCCUPATION: Co-owner of Felts Machine, an automotive and industrial machine shop

MARITAL STATUS: Married to Jay Felts for 46 years.

CHILDREN, AGES AND SCHOOLS: We have two sons, Chris, a single dad, and Travis and his wife, Vicki. Both have their own families. Chris has two children and Travis has three.

FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: Dinner with my husband Jay and friends

FAVORITE RESTAURANT: We like all of the local restaurants.

FAVORITE FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Chicken and water

WHAT DO PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I like to sing.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: I am a workaholic.

PETS: We have a chocolate lab.

FAVORITE HOBBY: Travel and volunteering

PET PEEVE: I cannot tolerate rudeness by the some of the salespeople in some of our retail businesses.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB: I was a department store clerk.

IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I would talk about the future of our young people. First, take pride in yourselves. Work hard in school and get an education, go to college or trade school, then get a job. You may have to start at a lower level job, but sometimes starting at the bottom and working yourselves up prepares you for a future in whatever field you have chosen. Also, being a team player at work makes for a happier workplace. If our youth would take pride in themselves and be self-supporting citizens, the country as a whole will be going in the right direction. These are values that our forefathers started many years ago for the United States of America and we need to find our way back.

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