Friday, November 30, 2012

Pettus Family, a cornerstone of Quesada

Mrs. Pettus and Ms. Annette at a QGI event
at Boudreaux's Cafe in 2012

Ryan Watts and his mom, Linda Pettus pose with
Tom Galante in 2008.  Photo: Carlos Galan
The Pettus Family has lived on the 1700 block of Quesada Avenue in Bayview since the late 1960's, moving just once from a house on the north side of the street to another directly across from it. They are co-founders of Quesada Gardens Initiative.

Linda Pettus, QGI Board Secretary, was just a girl when her parents purchased the first home on the block. Linda’s son, Ryan Watts, has never lived anywhere else. Linda and Ryan still live on the block along with Mrs. Corrine Pettus, Linda’s mother and Ryan’s Grandmother.

Along with Linda and Ryan, Mrs. Pettus was instrumental in launching Quesada Gardens Initiative, and was active in improving life on the block even before Quesada Gardens started. She was known for courageously confronting people who behaved badly in front of her house, has been the most committed community representative at police station meetings for years, and participated in the first plantings on the median strip, alongside Annette Smith and Karl Paige.

As admired as Mrs. Pettus is for her strength and commitment to her community, she is also admired for her cooking and baking skills. Her Sweet Potato Pie and Buttermilk Pie are nothing short of famous amongst neighbors. For years, she prepared and delivered food for her elder neighbor, Helen, and was the one to discover when Helen had passed away at age 92. She stays connected to her church, and to her family in Oklahoma where she was raised.

Linda retired after a productive career with the phone company. She is very active in her church, and has been a core contributor to the Quesada Gardens Initiative from the start. She still serves as the organization’s Board of Directors’ Secretary, and regularly shares the story of how Quesada Gardens started with students and other visitors to the project.

Linda recently recalled her father's presence on the block.  Walter Pettus, who passed away in 1982 when the family still lived in its first Quesada Avenue home, was someone "just about everyone loved," she said.  "He helped out neighbors with whatever they were doing, and always had time for the children on the block."

Ryan, Linda's son, is a quiet young man, and a talented artist. As a teenager, he helped create a video tribute to his grandmother, and to Karl and Annette, as community heroes. The video project was an program of BAYCAT, an organization Linda has served as a Board member. The short film was one of the early media pieces that brought needed attention to Quesada Gardens Initiative and other positive changes in Bayview. Ryan was one of four youth leaders who helped create the Quesada Gardens Outdoor Film Festival event series in 2007.

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