The retirement celebrations have been ongoing this week for Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe, who was surprised Monday morning with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest honor, and then with ice cream parties at schools all day, followed by a retirement reception for family, friends and community members Tuesday evening.
Those attending his celebration Tuesday at Fairfield Inn, which was catered by Heaven’s Scent and Mazzini’s, had nothing but great things to say about Bledsoe and his dedication to education and the community during his 38 years as an educators, serving in roles from teacher, coach and administrator and ending as superintendent.
“We grew up together in Siloam Methodist Church,” said Marion Venable, who heads the Surry Community College Foundation. “I admire him because of his accomplishments, his commitment to the community. Although he’s in the education field, he has given of his time and talents to the community.”
She said Bledsoe has served as a lay speaker for the Yadkin Valley district of the Methodist Church.
“He comes from parents who were the best neighbors, were community-minded and served as Ruritans, and Randy has continued that tradition,” Venable said.
Neighbor Yvonne Hodges said she admires Bledsoe’s hard work. “He’s a farmer, and I’m a farmer,” she said of both of them growing up on a farm.
Hodges said Bledsoe and his wife, Steva, are “very good neighbors” and she spoke of the beautiful flowers and decor they maintain.
“Dr. Bledsoe is a wonderful man,” said board of education Chairman Dr. Richard Brinegar. “He helped me on the school board and educated me. What an impact, influence he’s had on the community.”
During the celebration, Bledsoe’s cousin, Everette Miller and his wife, Ann, entertained the crowd with special songs Ann had personalized to fit Bledsoe and his retirement. Some had those in attendance laughing, while others were more reflective.
“It comes full circle for me,” said Bledsoe as he took the opportunity to share a few words with his friends and family.
He said Elkin helped keep his parents employed and making money which sent him to school, and now he is back in Elkin. “I hope what Elkin helped do for me, my term of eight years I’ve helped Elkin,” Bledsoe said.
Bledsoe thanked the members of the original school board who hired him and “allowing a high school principal to come here to be a superintendent.”
“I never dreamed 42 years ago I’d be able to go on the journeys I’ve gone on and end up in Surry County near home,” he said. “The greatest thing I can say is when the board of education hired me, they inherited a hardworking lady in Steva. My success is probably more because of her and all the people she knows.
“I love what I do and going to school. I’ve answered a bell for 54 years,” he said, realizing that after the end of June, he won’t be answering a bell anymore.
“The great thing I have is a support system in place in my family, my coworkers, my friends,” said Bledsoe.
“I love Elkin City Schools. Every day was a great day to be a Buckin’ Elk.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.