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Gradyville Pie Factory Growing

This article first appeared in issue 35, and was written by Ed Waggener.

Gary Wolford temps pie tasters to donate money for Jones Chapel UMC

Jones Chapel United Methodist Church has a new electronic keyboard thanks to the pie making skills of master baker Gary Wolford.

Already, some two thousand people have savored the buttery, cinnamony-sweet pastries Wolford creates from a special dough and his secret made-from-scratch-from-dried-apples-from-Udell's filling.

They've met with unanimous approval. The secret, Gary says, is that he takes special care with the production. "I'm not in it to make money," he says, "so I can afford to do the little extras that make them special."

Wolford was inspired to make the pies after hearing some of the menfolk complain at a recent Jones Chapel reunion about how they missed the fried apple pies their mothers and grandmothers used to make and bring to the events.

Their lamentations were heard. Their suffering from Fried Apple Pie Deprivation Syndrome would soon end.

"I'll make them," Wolford volunteered, as might be expected, owing to his DNA and his Millerfield upbringing. Wolford is a kinsman of the daring Civil War Hero Col. Frank Wolford. Challenges just don't faze these Wolfords. They didn't challenge Col. Frank who whupped John Hunt Morgan every time he encountered him, to often for Morgan. Wolford was in on Morgan's capture. And Gary Wolford isn't fazed when facing a growing host of fried apple pie aficionados.

His wife, Frances Coomer Wolford, had doubts. "Gary, you've never boiled water! You've never cooked a thing in your life."

"I'll learn," Wolford said.

"I just went to the kitchen and started experimenting," he said. He found the dough he liked, and tested several batches of the apple pie filling. His first pies were tested by his neighbors. "They said they liked them," he said. "But I think they were just being kind." He added, "After awhile, I found the recipe I liked myself, and I've been making them that way ever since."

One addition was made to the product line, however; so many people in this area are diabetic and have problems with sugar that Wolford now makes no-sugar added pies as well.

Despite the concerns Mrs. Wolford expressed about the pie factory messes in her otherwise pristine kitchen, the marriage has held up right well in Wolford's pie making phase. "I'm okay with Frances as long as I clean up the mess," he said.

All the pies are given away. They've gone to offices and business in Columbia and Gradyville. When people offer to pay for them, Wolford tells them if they want to, they can contribute to the funds at the Jones Chapel Church. Most want to, and that has produced a considerable new revenue stream for the congregation.

Production generally is in the 20-30 pies a day range. Peak output was 70, but it took a hard eight-hour day to complete. The long hours cut too much from the mandatory store time Gary and other Greater Gradyville residents are obliged to do at D & F Grocery each day.

The growing community church, which now draws around 50 worshippers each Sunday, has been the beneficiary of some $1,200 from the pie project. The keyboard has been acquired; and now another off-budget project has been started: Extending and paving the parking area. The church recently acquired .15 acres for new parking on its west side from David and Judy Reliford.

The front of the church grounds have been landscaped as a memorial to the late J.T. Coomer, a gift to the church from his widow, Janice Moss Coomer.

Rev. Terry Sullivan is pastor of the church. Services and Bible classes are held every Sunday.

Those wishing to commit gifts to the church can call Gary Wolford at 270-384-2426, or mail to Gary Wolford, 2594 Jones Chapel Road, Columbia, KY 42728.

To get there and beyond:

If you want to see the progress made at Jones Chapel, it's a short drive from Columbia. Take the Burkesville Road (KY 61-80) to Edmonton Road (KY 80) and drive approximately 5 miles. Watch for Jones Chapel Road on the left. If you reach D&F Grocery in Gradyville, stop in and ask for directions. They'll send you back up the hill to Jones Chapel Road, and, from this direction, turn right. The road offers some of the prettiest views in Adair County. The church is located on the right side of the road, from this direction, just past the water tower. After pausing to admire the church, continue on Jones Chapel Road to the intersection with the Burkesville Road. Santa Fe Baptist Church is on the left. Turn left, or north, here to retreat to Columbia, or right to inspect the new stretches of Hwy. 61 to Burkesville.)

This story was posted on 2001-06-15 12:01:01
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