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Oakes helps organize Forever Young Senior Veterans

MADISON – Elaine Oakes enjoys constantly running into acquaintances and meeting new folks in Madison.

“Most everyone is friendly and open,” she said. “I like it when people hold the door open for me. People are always willing to help each other.”

“The first year I helped collect prizes for our elementary school carnival, and no one said, ‘No.’ I was overwhelmed with gratitude,” Oakes said.

Also, Madison Street Festival is a major asset for the town. “So charming!”

She grew up in in Virginia’s Tidewater area and lived in Tennessee and Georgia. Oakes earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing at James Madison University.

The Oakes family relocated from metro Washington D.C. Her husband Lynn was attending a business meeting in California when he called and asked, “Do you want to move to Alabama?” Elaine’s reply was, “Let’s go!”

Elaine and Lynn have three children — Brenner, trumpeter in Auburn University Marching Band; Graeme; and Lleyton. The family dog, Danni, is a schnauzer/Yorkie mix.

A seasoned school volunteer, Elaine also helps at Hope Church and formerly guided the children’s ministry.

In 2016, “I accompanied my grandfather, local celebrity Sherwin Callander (AKA ‘Chick Magnet’ on his business cards), to Pearl Harbor with Forever Young Senior Veterans out of Collierville, Tenn.,” Elaine said. After returning, Elaine and friend Chris Batte decided to organize an extension of that organization here.

With Forever Young Senior Veterans, Oakes locates and honors veterans with students’ greeting cards, speaking opportunities, parade appearances and movie outings.

“A perfect fit because of numerous WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans here … and North Alabama’s support to our military. Many veterans are from the WWII era; they’re so precious,” Oakes said.

The veterans group soon will travel to New Orleans and visit the national World War II museum. (foreveryoungseniorvets.org/Alabama)

For about 24 years, she has worked with Mary Kay Cosmetics and currently is independent Senior Sales Director.

A music buff, she recently has attended concerts by Foo Fighters, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Black Jacket Symphony and Brian Seltzer. Also a theatre fan, Oakes especially liked local productions of “Les Miserables,” “Mama Mia,” “My Fair Lady” and “A Christmas Carol.”

Main Street Cafe is always fun for a meal, she said. “We often take out-of-towners to Chuck Wagon. We’re thankful for Mason-Dixon Bakery because our son Graeme has Celiac Disease.”

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