City of Pelham boasts Granny of the Year

It could be said &uot;local lady makes good&uot; or &uot;Shelby County woman makes an impression.&uot;

But neither of these can begin to pinpoint the amazing Pelham woman recently named &uot;Granny of the Year.&uot;

She is simply way too many things.

Dianna Murphree, 58, and grandmother of four, was one of five finalists from across America and Canada to travel to Washington earlier this month.

She was chosen by the Washington Apple Commission as one of the finalists in the 10th annual Search for Granny Smith. Her grandson nominated her for the contest.

The commission, along with four market chains, picks a granny from each area they serve.

None of the markets is in the South, so Murphree was chosen as the at-large finalist.

She and her husband, Melvin, were flown to Washington for the apple celebration that takes place there yearly.

&uot;They had every minute planned for us,&uot; said Murphree. &uot;I have so many wonderful memories.&uot;

After a few days in Seattle, Murphree and the other four finalists and their companions traveled to Wenatchee, Wash., for the Apple Blossom Festival.

There they toured orchards, packing plants and other areas of the apple industry.

&uot;I learned a lot of things about apples,&uot; said Murphree. &uot;There are different types that aren’t even in supermarkets here.&uot;

Murphree said she also learned how healthy apples are.

&uot;I’ve heard all my life ‘an apple a day …’ but I had no idea how wonderful they really are for cancer, kidney disease and even your teeth.&uot;

The day before Murphree and the others left Washington, they were in the Apple Blossom Parade, what Murphree compared to a virtual Mardi Gras with more than 80 floats.

The finalists rode in the parade, all with sashes that read &uot;Granny Smith Finalist 2002.&uot;

After the parade, the women gathered onstage.

Each was given a plaque for outstanding accomplishments in different areas. Murphree got the award for most civic involvement.

Then they announced the winner.

&uot;These women were everything from a nurse and aerobics teacher to a 74-year-old full-time kindergarten teacher,&uot; said Murphree of her surprise at being named Granny of the Year.

Murphree sat on her couch with a bright smile when she spoke of her trip to Washington and showed pictures of herself, her husband and the other finalists.

Unbelievably, her smile got even bigger when the topic moved to her grandchildren.

She has four. Matthew is the oldest at age 12. Taylor is 9; Brandon is 18 months; and Samantha is 15 months.

Matthew is the one who entered his grandmother in the contest which he read about in the Shelby County Reporter.

He now lives in Daphne but receives a subscription to the paper from his grandmother.

&uot;(Since) he used to live here, I give him a subscription so he can read about his old school and friends,&uot; said Murphree.

&uot;We were instant-messaging each other (on the computer) which we do every day,&uot; said Murphree, &uot;and he said he wanted to nominate me.&uot;

Matthew wrote the letter that was required for the contest saying why his grandmother was outstanding.

He sent it to his grandmother, whom he calls &uot;Muzzy.&uot;

&uot;It was about a thousand words,&uot; said Murphree, &uot;but it could only be 100. So, we worked together to shorten it.

&uot;I would say ‘Matthew, if you could only tell them one thing about me, what would you tell them?’&uot;

They shortened the letter, and the Apple Commission was impressed.

They called Murphree soon afterward. She remembers that Matthew was visiting when the first phone call came.

&uot;He was hopping like a pogo stick,&uot; said Murphree. &uot;He thought I had won.&uot;

Murphree said four phone interviews followed before they called to say she was a finalist.

The Apple Commission chose grandmothers on some guidelines most would not normally associate with grannies.

Granny of the Year has to be an active, healthy and exceptional grandmother who lives life to the fullest.

Like Matthew’s letter said, &uot;Muzzy is not an old, gray granny like in cartoons. When I say she rocks, I don’t mean in a chair.

&uot;She’s a cool, fun, wonderful person. She taught me to dance. That’s where I got all my moves.&uot;

Murphree is a retired personnel specialist and now travels doing benefits consulting for large insurance companies across the Southeast.

She stays busy as an ambassador for the city of Pelham, a board member of the Alabama Writer’s Conclave, a member of the Miss Alabama Panel of Judges and a number of other positions.

Now Murphree is excitedly awaiting September when she will travel back to Washington for Apples 101, a course in which she will learn even more about apples.

&uot;It’s so I can answer questions intelligently about the apple industry,&uot; Murphree said.

As Granny of the Year, Murphree will be the Apple Commission’s &uot;spokesgranny,&uot; and appear on TV and radio talk shows and in news articles to promote Washington apples.

&uot;(Granny of the Year) last year went to 90 different cities,&uot; Murphree said.

She looks forward to traveling and speaking.

&uot;I’m not only a representative of the Washington Apple Commission,&uot; she said, &uot;but they expect you to talk about a grandparent’s role.&uot;

She stressed the importance of grandparents’ need to keep in touch and be involved in their grandchildren’s lives.

&uot;I know I’m not the world’s greatest grandmother,&uot; Murphree said. &uot;Ask any child, and they’ll tell you its their grandmother &045; that’s the way it should be.&uot;

She said the best part of the whole thing was finding out how her grandson felt about her.

&uot;To know you’re the best to your grandchildren … that’s the best it can possibly be.&uot;