Remembering Gladys Presley...
The memory we keep of Gladys Presley is one of a loving and protective
mother to her only surviving son, Elvis. A devoted wife, an endearing,
understanding, and com-passionate lady, and a good Christian woman.
She was all of these things and more. Born on April 25, 1912, we
remember that 50 years ago, on August 14, 1958, Gladys untimely
passing broke her son's world to pieces and shattered all of his
future dreams of making his beloved mama's life more gifted and
comfortable. The void Glady's passing left inside her son would
never mend or be whole again, not within himself, not with family,
friends, or even the single child that was born to him whom he loved
Elvis was not a poetry reader, however, upon being offered by a
friend a book of poems to read following his mother's death, Elvis
scanned through the pages of "Poems That Touch
The Heart," and stumbled upon this beautiful
poem written by Albert K. Rowswell, and which he began to read aloud:
You Go First
Should you go first and I remain
To walk the road alone,
I'll live in memory's garden, dear,
With happy days we've known.
In spring I'll wait for roses red,
When fades the Lilac blue;
In early fall when brown leaves call,
I'll catch a glimpse of you.
Gladys Smith Presley.
(above)Robert Lee Smith and Octavia Luvenia
'Doll' Mansell, parents of Gladys Love Smith
Gladys sister, Lillian Fortenberry, in a photo taken after Elvis'
death, 1977. She was 78 years old. Mrs. Fortenberry's only daughter,
Bobbie Jane, died young. She and Elvis were like sister and brother
as children where Lillian took in young Elvis many a day. As Gladys
was dying, her sister remained attentive to her during her final
days. The Fortenberry family is an allied family of not only the
Smith clan but of the Presley clan. Kin founder, Barbara Lee, is
also of the Fortenberry line connecting to the Presley and Helms
family. from NC. Henry, Isaac, and Jacob Falkenburg moved to SC
during the American Revolution and changed the spelling of the name
to "Fortenberry." Their descendants continued to head
Every year in Verona, MS, there is a fair,
The Tupelo Festival, put together by Julian Riley, owner and proprietor
of the Verona town hall complex and museum, starting at the very
same building where Gladys Love Smith and Vernon Presley were married
17 June 1933, the Lee County Town Hall, oldest building in Lee County.
Gladys and Vernon had eloped as neither family had approved of this
Each year a couple reinacts the wedding of
Gladys and Vernon and in the photo is this year's portrayor of Gladys
along with a Mansell/ Smith cousin, little Charles Aron Pruette,
grandson of Elbert S. and Mary Etta Smith of Memphis. Mary is of
the Mansell/Smith family. Her grandparents were Mary Mansell and
Albert Smith. Some members of the Presley, Mansell, and Hood families
are often in town attending this celebration and memorial tribute
to Elvis' roots. An interesting story involving Gladys and Vernon's
marriage certificate: Elvis found it an altered the names to read
Elvis Presley and Magdalene Morgan. Morgan was Elvis' first girlfriend.
The Morgan family is connected to the Presley line as well, by several
Presley/Morgan intermarriages including a sister of Vernon who married
Gladys Love Smith Presley
The marker for Jesse Garon
Presley, Elvis' twin, is placed in honor at Graceland®.