9. Her Character

Mrs. Bemis was as quick, open, and generous in her recognition of what others did along philanthropic lines as she was reticent concerning her own good deeds. This was especially noticeable in her attitude toward all the private and public benefactions of her husband and children. Her quiet satisfaction in these was beautiful to see. Her children received all sympathy and encouragement in every good work they undertook, but she never assumed the right to dictate in these matters or took any credit to herself for anything they did, not thinking of the power of her example and the life-long training she had given them.

Her recognition of all her husband's benefactions and her sympathy in his planning for them were unfailing. One of the most important and far reaching of these was in connection with a work along social lines in the town of Bemis, Tennessee, where his firm had built a cotton mill. From the inception of the town the need of this work was much in the thought of their son, who has since succeeded his father as president of their company, and whose practical interest in the betterment of all social relations, especially of those between the employer and the employed, is widely known. Together they carried out their ideals in the new town of Bemis. The operators were those known in the south as poor whites. The opening of the mill gave to these people an undreamed of opportunity to earn money. It also offered to them a great privilege and at the same time a possibility of great danger. The privilege was that of being able for the first time in their lives to command money and to use it so that it would make them better and happier; the danger was that they might use it so that moral deterioration would follow. Both these possibilities were foreseen in the first plans for the town, and provision was made for the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of the people that would as far as possible avert the danger. A social worker was engaged to live as a friend among the people, and a church, school, and library were provided for them. Mrs. Bemis had much pleasure in following every step in the development of this work, while careful to disclaim any credit for its success, again not thinking what her encouragement and coöperation meant to both husband and son. But they and all her children pay her full tribute for the stimulus of example and for the sympathy shown in every good work to which they put their hands.