- [S113] Manes Funeral Home, (http://www.manesfuneralhome.com), 17 Aug 2011.
Charley Marie Sapp obituary
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 23 Mar 2012.
Just Plain Talk: Charley gets her sign A gift from a mother's heart
(c)2012 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL
If you turn on to Blazer Street off Highway 321 (North Street), the first road on the left is Pikeview that takes you to the new sign, Charley's Alley. Charley Marie Sapp's mother, Christy Ricker, at left, got the City of Newport to place the sign earlier this year. With her is a best friend, Jenny Gray.
Author: David Popiel
Traditional April Dogwoods began blooming last week along with a rush of redbuds during 80-degree temperatures warming our hometown, and March seems to have accelerated the spring clock by a month.
We will take a detour from my visits to the Newport Flea Market and continue next week, but I have promises to keep to tell about a new City of Newport street sign in the memory of an accident victim.
Acccident changes lives of many
Whatever happens to your loved ones, most folks want them to always be remembered, and that is true of a Newport mother who lost her only daughter in a tragic vehicle accident last summer.
Charley Ricker would have been 27 years old on Wednesday, March 28, had she not died from accident injuries suffered the morning of August 17, 2011 on Highway 411 in Sevier County just before Fox Cemetery in route to Sevierville. The adoring mother, Christy Ricker, is well-known by the many people she has served during years at the Newport Cracker Barrel Restaurant.
Charley, who was single living with her mother off Musterfield road, was on her way to work at the Highway 66 Cracker Barrel in Sevier County. It was about 7:30 a.m. when Charley lost control of her vehicle while attempting to pass traffic. The head-on collision left her mortally injured. Christy recalls that the morning of the accident the last thing Christy said as her daughter was leaving for work: "Be careful. I love you." They talked about a steak dinner that evening after work.
Christy answered a knock on the door later that morning, and no doubt Charley's pet Chihuahua Rocky, was barking at the police officer. Charley was at University of Tennessee Medical Center's trauma unit where Christy went quickly but Charley died about 11:00 a.m. But the story of a mother's love does not end here nor will it with this column so be sure to watch the Plain Talk this week.
Let me tell you about the Ricker family, one I am unfamiliar with except for those from Hot Springs, NC. Her dark complexion is explained by her parents' French Cajun origins. Elgin Ricker of Camp Creek, Greene County, was in the Pacific serving with the Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His ship stopped at New Orleans where he met and later married Dedree Ryder of Melville, Louisiana. Christy was born in New Orleans in 1962 and lived there until she was age four. Sister Dana Marie born in 1965 lives near Baton Rouge. Now, Elgin was a truck driver and worked hard enough to have a fleet of trucks. Eventually he met M.M. Bullard, who was becoming a prominent highway builder in Tennessee. The two paved just about every road in Jefferson Parish in the 1950s.
After a divorce, Elgin returned to the family farm at Camp Creek with little Christy and he finally got a job at Sonoco Products in Newport, where he moved. They found property owned by Lon and Connie Ball with a mobilehome on it to rent. To the rear of the property, adjacent to the Ealy's house, was an alley, unmarked. Virginia and Ruble Ealy also used the alley. In the mid 1980s, Christy met Douglas Sapp of Fourth Street. (They are now divorced.) Their only child, Charley, was born on Mar. 28, 1985. Doug's birthday is March 26.
Charley grew up in the Northport neighborhood where she went to Northport School, that no longer exists, and graduated from Cocke County High School, as did Christy. Charley attended Walters Stare Community College and also worked at Brock's Market before joining Cracker Barrel.
When Charley died at age 26, it was the anniversary of Elgin Ricker's death. He died August 20, 1987. Charley died on the 17th and was buried the same day as her grandfather's death date. He died of cancer as did one of Christy's best friends, Jenny (McNabb) Gray's father. Jenny was "with me every step of the way, through the sad ordeal," said Christy. Jenny's father, the late Connie McNabb, also died of cancer. Jenny also lost her husband, Clyde Gray. You may recall some years ago I visited with Connie McNabb's widow, Della McNabb. Christy's close friends that sustained her also include Terri Agee and Cheryl Grooms.
A road sign for many reasons
But Christy remembers the good things. Charley would give homeless people tips from out of her tip jar at Brock's Market, a favorite place for people to enjoy sandwiches and get fast and courteous service from the girls such as Charley. Christy said, "She was sweet, generous, and wanted to bring out the good in everybody." And, there, too, was the "most beautiful smile." The last image ever made of Charley and her pet, Rocky, was taken on her cellphone in July, a month before the fatal accident. The phone was in her vehicle after the crash and retrieved by Stooksbury Towing. They took the time to get the phone back to Christy. A friend of hers was able to transfer the image from the phone to a printer. "I thought the dog would grieve itself to death."
A road sign is a constant reminder, unique, and keeps us on course and helps use locate where we are going. The unnamed alley behind Christy's house needed a name and just after Charley's death, Christy pondered how to get it named. City Codes enforcer Mark Robinson happened to be in the alley in January and so she mentioned her plan to Mark. He advised her of the process which included getting permission or OK from all property owners adjacent to the alley. Long-time neighbor Anita Holt, who has lived there for about 45 years, supported the plan. "Her Mom helped raise me," said Christy. Anita's daughter, Brittany Carr and Charley were best friends. Brittany's daughter, Mariah Thornton, is Charley's Godchild, said Christy and was born March 28, on Charley's 21st birthday. Mariah calls Charley her angel. After all the neighbors agreed with the alley naming, Christy went to the E-911 board and got its OK and then to city council in February and this was approved on Valentine's Day. Alderman Kathy Holt sponsored the resolution for Charley's Alley. Before you could spell it, Street Superintendent Ben Hicks was on the project and got the fire department to make the new sign. Everything was falling perfectly in place, even though the fire dept. had been out of sign-making materials for months before the project.
The green Charley's Alley sign catches the sunshine, shimmers in the rain, vibrates in March winds. It is a name on the map. And it "brought some peace to my heart. She wasn't a star or politician. She was my only baby. We will remember her forever."
Just Plain Talk: Charley gets her sign A gift from a mother's heart
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Groom's Name Bride's First Name Bride's Maiden Name County Date of Marriage File #
SAPP DOUGLAS W CHRISTY R [NOT GIVEN] COCKE 07-21-1981 28969
- [S131] Divorce Record.
Husband's Name Wife's First Name Wife's Maiden Name County Court Date of Divorce File #
SAPP DOUGLAS W CHRISTY R [NOT GIVEN] COCKE [NOT GIVEN] 06-27-1986 13821