Skip to content

The unforgettable Becky Landrum

Last Friday’s surprise presentation of a writing award to a Jefferson Elementary second-grader provided the students a unique opportunity to learn about the remarkable woman that it honors.

Annie Sue Wiles, 8, walked into the school library along with the rest of her class not knowing that she was about to receive the Becky Landrum Writing Award for a poem she’d written about her “baby” brother.




‘Sam wont listen’

Sam wont listen.

Sam wont share.

he screams almost everywhere. 

I’m always saying stop stop stop.

But the anger rises to the top.

He says he wants an lol ball.

but then guess what I saw.

lol heads everywhere.

He says I’m acting like a bear.

I just want to pull out my hair.

The award, which would have normally been presented during an assembly held during the final week of school, was given to Wiles early because her family had previously made vacation plans.

With the youngster’s family in attendance, the award — named for the late mother of former Farmington mayor Mit Landrum — was presented to Wiles by her grandmother, retired principal Sheryl Robinson; Becky Landrum’s friend and school board president, Angela Hahn; and the former mayor’s wife, Chris.

After explaining to the students that Mr. Landrum was unable to attend the ceremony due to a previous commitment, Robinson introduced Hahn and Mrs. Landrum to the children.

“Becky Landrum, who the award is named after, was a writer for years and years and years,” Robinson said. “Mrs. Hahn was one of her very dearest neighbors and friends and knows about the stories that she wrote about her adventures in Italy. Becky was really into reading, writing and literature — and even had a radio show on KREI!”

Greeting the students with a smile, Hahn told them about her long-time friend.

The late Becky Landrum's long-time friend, Angela Hahn, center, talks about the writer's zest for life during a special presentation of the Becky Landrum Writing Award in the school library. Standing with her is Sheryl Robinson, left, and Chris Landrum. Debbie Beavers is the school librarian.

The late Becky Landrum’s long-time friend, Angela Hahn, center, talks about the writer’s zest for life during a special presentation of the Becky Landrum Writing Award in the school library. Standing with her is Sheryl Robinson, left, and Chris Landrum. Debbie Beavers is the school librarian.

“The most important thing to Becky Landrum was living her life large,” she said. “Becky was curious about everything. She enjoyed everything. I would always take her with me when I’d dump glass at the recycle plant over in Desloge.

“The first time she went, she was so fascinated by it. She tracked somebody down and asked a question. She told me, ‘Don’t ever do this without me again!’ She loved and enjoyed everything she did, and she was a joy to be around.”




Angela Hahn on late friend Becky Landrum

“The most important thing to Becky Landrum was living her life large.” — Angela Hahn

Robinson continued, “And she was a fabulous writer. My children lived across the street from her. If they came over to show her what they’d done in ballet or something, she would write a letter — and it was always just a work of art. Absolutely beautiful! One morning when she was on the radio with her [co-host], Anne Ledbetter, she was talking about how children had completely lost the art of writing.

“At that time, we were going through the Seven Steps of Writing in our classrooms with our children who had kind of lost the art of writing. We started developing skills at a very early age for them to be able to write. So, I invited Becky Landrum to come into Jefferson and see what [our] students were writing at that time — to show her that children WERE writing.

“Maybe they weren’t writing thank you notes like they ought to because they were using computers, but they were writing. When she was getting quite up in age, but still driving, she parked out front and started going around with me to the classes. She was absolutely amazed with all the young people in the classes writing, knowing how to write and understanding the process of writing.”

After Landrum died in December 2012 at the age of 95, Robinson came up with the idea of a writing award for students to be given in the woman’s honor.

“I was thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it just be wonderful to every year give a writing award at Jefferson in her honor for those students who are writing?’ So, every year we take samples from different classes throughout the year and in the spring Mit and Chris look at those writing pieces — they don’t know who the writer is, just the grade level — and at the awards ceremony one Jefferson student gets the Becky Landrum Writing Award for the year.”

Chris Landrum addressed the children, saying, “My mother-in-law would have loved each and everyone of you. She had the greatest love for children. She would always have tea parties for all the boys and girls in the neighborhood that would come over. If she were here today, she would be smiling and probably coming up and pinching your cheeks. She would encourage you to use your voice through the written word.

“There’s no way to describe what a wonderful woman she was. Not many girls can speak highly of their mother-in-law, but I certainly can. You would have loved ‘Grandma Becky’ — that was how she was known to everybody. For us it’s a very special award and I know that whoever gets that award today, she will be smiling down on that person.”

When her name was called, a surprised and shy Annie Wiles made her way to the front of the room to accept her award from Robinson, Hahn and Landrum. Her teacher, Sarah Pulliam, read Wiles’ poem, “Sam Who Won’t Listen” aloud to the children and special guests. Awards were then handed out to others in Wiles’ class that had submitted more writing samples than any of the others.

Farmington School Board President Angela Hahn, retired principal Sheryl Robinson and Chris Landrum present this year's Becky Landrum Writing Award to Jefferson Elementary second grader Annie Sue Wiles, 8, for a poem she wrote about her

Farmington School Board President Angela Hahn, retired principal Sheryl Robinson and Chris Landrum present this year’s Becky Landrum Writing Award to Jefferson Elementary second grader Annie Sue Wiles, 8, for a poem she wrote about her “baby” brother, Sam. The youngster had no idea she was going to receive the award that was presented to her last week in the school library. 

Annie Sue Wiles is pictured with her mother, Steph'Annie, and brother, Sam, following Friday's surprise presentation to the Jefferson Elementary second grader of the annual Becky Landrum Writing Award.

Annie Sue Wiles is pictured with her mother, Steph’Annie, and brother, Sam, following Friday’s surprise presentation to the Jefferson Elementary second grader of the annual Becky Landrum Writing Award.

Becky Landrum

Becky Landrum

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

Leave a Comment