“I really love kids,” says Libby Ousley of Billingsley, whose life demonstrates that love.
After retiring from International Paper, she began substitute teaching at the Billingsley School where three of her grandchildren are students and her daughter-in-law is a teacher.
“I enjoyed subbing and being around the young people, but the school always had a hard time finding people willing to sub in the lunchroom. I did it, and when a full-time position was available, I took it. Like most folks, I planned to take it easy when I retired, but it hasn’t really panned out that way,” says Libby.
In addition to working in the lunchroom at Billingsley School, Libby teaches youth Sunday school at Alpine Baptist Church where her husband, Wayne, is a deacon. She also conducts children’s church and is the director of the Chilton Baptist Association’s Vacation Bible School program.
“We were recently talking about material things in Sunday school, and I was telling these kids how what I remember as special when I look back on my life are the times I spent with the people I love, not what those people gave me for Christmas or my birthday,” Libby says. “And the things I give my grandchildren will go away, but I want them to have lasting memories of the time we spent together.”
To ensure her grandchildren have the same kinds of childhood memories, she creates special times for them to share.
“I’ve taken them to pick blackberries and strawberries during the summer, and then we’re all in the kitchen washing the berries to make jelly and pies. When I cook for the football teams at school, I’ll set out all the sprinkles and toppings so the grandchildren can help me decorate cupcakes. It’s a wonderful way to spend time with them,” she says.
In addition to cooking with her grandchildren, she looks forward to any occasion to have her sons, Chris and Steven, and their families gathered around her table.
“Both my daughters-in-law are good cooks, but once every month or two, I’ll cook for both my sons and their families,” says Libby.
“It’s nice how some of my grandchildren’s favorite treats are the same things I made for their daddies.”
Libby says most of what she knows about cooking was learned in her mother’s and grandmother’s kitchens, where she says measuring spoons or cups were rarely needed.
“They were both just good country cooks, and that’s still the way my family likes to eat. Good vegetables and cornbread are some of our favorite meals, and that’s the way I grew up eating and cooking. But even after all these years, I still can’t fry a chicken like Mama can,” she says.
Libby says her family loves chicken. So, she recommends several of their favorite chicken recipes. She offers some of her family’s other best-loved dishes as well.
“My husband’s all-time favorite is the Mandarin Orange Cake. Any time I’m feeding my boys, they want Tex-Mex and I usually serve it with green beans and a salad. They grew up loving the Polka Dot Peanut Butter Jumbos, and now that’s something my grandchildren love,” says Libby.