She began hosting a “Valentine’s Tea” in her home, showering them with love, gifts and beauty. Townsend carried on this tradition in her home until her death in 2007. After her passing in 2007, Pamela Kay Overbey agreed to act as coordinator to continue the event, with the help of Bonnie’s husband, Grady Townsend, of Cleveland, and her sister-in-law, Reneé Lambert, who resides in South Carolina. Many dear friends assisted this trio by picking up the mantle to carry on Townsend’s tradition.
Grady, Reneé and Pamela Kay were ably assisted this year by the following key committee assistants: Charlene McCullough, Sue Cofer, Lynne Bivens and Sharon Ashley, all of Cleveland, who together orchestrated the 10th anniversary of the Valentine’s Tea in memory of their dear friend.
On Feb. 12, 65 women came together at the North Cleveland Church of God’s Bryant Fellowship Hall, adorned in beauty and grace and Valentine colors. About 20 people were involved in the preparation and serving the ladies attending the tea.
Because of the talents and gifts of Pat Bradbury, one of Cleveland’s outstanding caterers and McCullough, who orchestrated the decorations, the tables in the fellowship hall were overlaid in gorgeous floor-length ivory tablecloths with red silk napkins and centerpieces of white geraniums and red roses, which enhanced the beauty of the china place settings.
Bradley Florist added its “gift of God’s love” by arranging the centerpiece of red roses for the guest table. The following hostesses were gracious to share their “gift of God’s love” by packing their china and decorating the tables to honor the tradition Townsend had patterned long ago: McCullough, Cofer, Helen Johnson, Lorraine Wooley, Charlotte Walden, Ashley, Jan Timmerman, Terrah Brinson, Pam Coleman, Pat Sims and Bivens, along with Grady Townsend and his new bride, Dede, who set the guest table. Pam Lewis and Sheryl Taylor greeted the ladies at the door and welcomed them.
Renee Lambert, along with the following contributors, made the plate of edibles: Ashley, Judy Gee, Wanda LeRoy, Sharon Lambert, Overbey and Grady Townsend. Liz Osborne, Phyllis Anderson, Sharon Lambert and Judy Gee expressed their “gift of God’s love” to the ladies by serving the tables.
To mark this special occasion of the 10th anniversary, McCullough entertained the ladies with her hilarious comedy act of “Bonnie Mae from Spivey Mountain.” Bonnie and Grady Townsend’s children — Mark Townsend and his wife, Shelly, and Michelle Townsend Thompson, from the Houston, Texas, area — came to honor their mother and her memory by sharing their “gift of God’s love” in music.
The three blessed the ladies with vocals of love songs and a saxophone instrumental by Mark. Michelle currently serves as worship leader for Family Life Christian Center in Spring, Texas, and has recorded an album titled “Celtic Prayers and Worship,” which was produced by her brother Mark and was released by EMI CMG.
Mark is a record producer and recording studio owner in Houston and has toured and worked on several Grammy Award-winning records with artists such as Shania Twain, Israel Hougthton and D.C. Talk. The “gift of God’s love” also lives on in the music and servant spirit of Bonnie and Grady’s 11 grandchildren.
How does one share the “Gift of God’s Love” with others? Rosemary Cozzo, of California, gave each of the ladies a musical CD titled, “Come Unto Me.”
Renee Lambert presented a challenge to all in attendance by giving them an antique teacup and remarking, “We are passing on the baton for this Valentine’s Tea in faith believing that we will see the tradition multiplied in a lovely fashion and that each of you will continue to share ‘the gift of God’s love’ with other single adult women.”