By Beth Sanders Young
Each edition, Porch & Parish publishes a Zachary Made feature on a person who captures the mission of Excellent Living and is dedicated to uplifting our community.
For 50 years, Myrtle McDavid has been an icon in the early childhood education of countless Zachary children through her commitment and dedication to the BREC New Beginnings program, formerly known as Tiny Steps.
In 1972, three years after moving to Zachary with her husband through a job transfer with Illinois Central Railroad, Mrs. McDavid, affectionately known as “Miss Myrtle,” began sharing her love of children with the Zachary community. Her reputation and nurturing nature has kept the BREC program at full capacity for as long as she can remember.
When asked about her duties and experiences during her tenure, she said, “I was center supervisor, teacher, janitor – I did it all, even operating the buffing machine.” Her daughter, Stephanie Carpenter, added that in the past, after finishing her daily shift, Myrtle would return in the evenings to assist with other BREC programs of the time, such as dance, baton twirling, gymnastics, and more.
Miss Myrtle is a rare gem who embodies the character, values, and ethics that inspire everyone she meets. She also has a very adventurous spirit. While in her 70s, she went whitewater rafting in Tennessee. “I loved it. I want to go do it again,” she said. She also took a hot air balloon ride for her 80th birthday last year. An active member of First Baptist Church of Zachary, she is quick to credit her Christian faith for her strength and fortitude in all she does, especially in times of illness and adversity. Conquering what is believed to be two bouts of COVID (the first, a life-threatening experience which required a stay in the ICU in February of 2020, and the other, a confirmed case in January of this year,) and withstanding the flood of 2016, she continues to demonstrate her endurance.
Born Myrtle Leggett on Friday, June 13, 1941, Miss Myrtle proves that there is nothing unlucky about this infamous date. She was raised in Brookhaven, MS, and began working in her family’s grocery store when she was 11 years old.
At the age of 13, she accepted a position as a clerk in the local pharmacy where she worked until she became the bride of Bud McDavid at 17. They were married for 51 years when he passed away in 2010.
Their family started in McComb, MS, where Mr. McDavid was employed, and she bore their first two children, Donnie and Belinda. Shortly thereafter, Mr. McDavid was transferred to Ruston, LA, where their third child, David, arrived. While in Ruston, Miss Myrtle worked as a cafeteria supervisor at Louisiana Tech University, nourishing football great Terry Bradshaw, and Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame.
Calling Zachary Home
It wasn’t until 1969 that the railroad job brought the McDavid family to Zachary. Their caboose, Stephanie, was born in Zachary in 1974, two years after Miss Myrtle began her career with Tiny Steps.
The McDavid children graduated from Zachary High, where they were active in sports and extracurriculars, and their parents were Bronco Backers. After graduating, Donnie worked at the Georgia Pacific paper mill for many years; Belinda and Stephanie were restaurant managers, and David is the longtime Zachary Chief of Police, having started his career in law enforcement right out of high school. He is now a candidate for mayor. Miss Myrtle is also “Nanny” to 11 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.
While these offspring are her pride and joy, she truly glows when she speaks of her many years with generations of Zachary children. She does not enjoy idle time and misses her little ones during the summer. “I’m ready to go back now. I’ve been home for nearly two months,” she professed. Thankfully, for the children and parents who benefit from and depend on Miss Myrtle, she has no intention of retiring anytime soon. How incredibly blessed Zachary is to have this amazing lady guiding so many!
View the story in the latest edition of Porch & Parish Magazine here.