Family History Moment: Fruit Stand Adds to Family Tree

Contributed By Grady Pate, Narcoossee Ward, Orlando Florida Hunters Creek Stake

  • 21 September 2016

While driving to Florida, a chance meeting at a fruit stand introduced Grady Pate and his wife to relatives he had never met before.

Article Highlights

  • A chance meeting at a fruit stand introduced Grady Pate to unknown relatives.
  • Brother Pate was able to attend a family reunion and submit 50 temple names.

“It was no coincidence that I was led to the fruit stand, that the lady’s son was a branch president, or that I was invited to the family reunion that resulted in many of my ancestors having their temple work completed.” —Grady Pate, Narcoossee Ward, Orlando Florida Hunters Creek Stake

My wife and I had been to the Atlanta Georgia Temple and were on our way back to Florida when I felt impressed to get off Interstate 75 at Cordele, Georgia. Cordele is where my relatives settled back in the early 1800s and where my great-uncle and aunt lived. My wife asked me if I needed gas or had some reason to stop. I told her I did not know why except I felt strongly about it. I pulled the car into the parking lot of a service station and saw a little fruit stand on one side with a lady sitting in the shade.

I went over to her and began asking a few questions. I asked her if she was a native of this area and she said she was born in Cordele. I then asked her if she knew my great-aunt and uncle. She said not only did she know them but she helped my aunt, who has Alzheimer’s disease, two days a week. I explained to her that we were LDS and asked her if she was familiar with our beliefs. She answered her son was the branch president in Americus, Georgia, and she was very familiar with our teachings.

I gave her my address and phone number and asked if she would tell my aunt I was thinking of her and if she needed anything to let me know. A few weeks later I received a letter from someone I did not know in Albany, Georgia. She said she was my cousin and had gotten my address from the lady at the fruit stand. She invited me to the first Pate family reunion that was a few weeks away. I knew I had to attend.

My wife, two of my boys, and I attended the reunion. My cousin told me most of our deceased relatives were buried in the Pateville Cemetery between Sylvester and Cordele. We found the Pateville road and arrived at a small church and cemetery. I took photos of the grave markers with dates and names of my deceased family. With this information, we had temple ordinances performed for them.

We submitted approximately 50 names. It was no coincidence that I was led to the fruit stand, that the lady’s son was a branch president, or that I was invited to the family reunion that resulted in many of my ancestors having their temple work completed.