Lerlie Segars Carruth was born on September 18, 1914, in the same year that Barrow became a Georgia county. Her parents were Grady and Cleo Segars, the only girl born in a family of six boys: Glenn, Bill, Joe, Julian (Fat), Jack, and Johnny, who died in infancy. The family were pioneer settlers of the area and all the siblings were involved in agriculture and independent businesses. One of the brothers, Glenn, served as Assistant Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture during the 1960s and his wife, Anne, was Barrow County’s first female Commission Chairman.
Miss Lerlie loved her family deeply and always included her maiden name in her signature. During the Depression years she worked long days in the cotton fields with her brothers. “During hard times we all did the best we could,” she said. “We weren’t aware of being deprived of anything, and were content. The farm, our family, and our home was our life. We loved each other, and everything seemed fine.”
She is survived by eight nieces and nephews and their spouses: Joyce Segars Davis (Benson), John Darrin Segars, Deneen Segars Kinney (Brian), and Ricky Segars of Winder, Judy Segars Robinson (Steve) of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., Billie Segars Carroll (Benny) of Watkinsville, Gail Segars Rainey (Mike) of Eatonton, and Hank Segars (Marie) of Madison. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Shirley Segars, and a number of great-nieces and nephews.
Miss Lerlie graduated in 1932 from Statham High School where she excelled in home economics and on the basketball court. Thereafter, she worked on the family farm and later began dating James Carruth. James and her brother, Glenn, were members of the first FFA chapter chartered in Georgia, at Statham. She married her husband in 1935 and two years later, they bought their first farm. In time, the couple added two adjacent farms on Finch Road to raise cotton and corn; and, for 25 years, they were also in the dairy business.
In 1941, their first and only child, Jane, arrived. As an honor student, master 4-H member and gifted musician, she enrolled at the St. Louis Institute of Music to study piano. There, she excelled and became an honor graduate and president of the student body. In 1966, Jane – along with her baby – tragically died due to complications during childbirth. Her mother said, “Jane was our pride and joy. Not only was she an accomplished pianist and teacher, she could do anything.”
In the 1970s after her husband died, Miss Lerlie began to travel extensively and worked as a travel escort accompanying groups to all 50 states and each province of Canada. “I enjoyed every bit of it and every place I went,” she said, “but, it was always good to come back home.” She also served as the guardian of her nephew, Tim, whose father had died when he was young. This nephew lived with her for a number of years and they continued to farm until his death in 2009.
Miss Lerlie was known for her peacocks and beautiful gardens. However, it was her cheerful disposition, humble character, and warm smile that is so well remembered by the community. Her authentic Southern charm was most evident as she offered visitors a piece of cake, a glass of iced tea, and a plant from her yard.
For many years she taught Sunday School in the Old Pentecost and New Pentecost United Methodist Churches, and later, held membership in Hope Baptist Church. Her devout faith has served as an inspiration to many. “The most special thing in my life is knowing Jesus Christ,” she said. Lerlie Segars Carruth’s long history of quiet sacrifice and unselfish living, her positive attitude and caring heart, continue to influence all those fortunate enough to have come in contact during her lifetime.
Funeral services will be held Friday, May 27, at 4 p.m. in Smith Memory Chapel with the Rev. Steve Roberson officiating. Visitation will be one hour before the service. Burial will be in the Segars Family Cemetery.
Smith Funeral Home, Winder, is in charge of arrangements.