People of Etowah – Deborah Lloyd Gaither


Name: Deborah Lloyd Gaither

Where were you born and raised? 

“I was born in Aliceville in Pickens County and raised in Talladega in Talladega County.”

What is your occupation?

“I am proud to say that I am the Emergency Management Director of the Gadsden/Etowah County EMA.”

What made you decide to work in your field? 

“I wanted to serve in a way that I felt I could do my best for the most people in the community in which I lived, worked and played.  I began as a volunteer in EMA and loved helping others.  It became a mission for me, my way of life to try to make a small positive difference in the life of others where possible.”

Tell us about your family and pets.

“I have been married to Mark L. Gaither for 35 years. He’s a keeper! We have two children; Terry Joseph and Serra Elizabeth.  They have given us six beautiful grandchildren, three boys and three girls.  We have two fur-children at home with us, Sophie our five year old Boxer Mix and Meathead our 19 year old cat.”

Describe an average day in your life.

“There is no average day when you are a responder or work in emergency management. You get to bed at different times; you wake up at different times.  Sometimes, a day runs into three or four before you know it. No two days or emergencies are ever the same. I just try to stay flexible and be moldable to any given situation.”

What school or schools have you attended? 

“I attended Talladega Academy and Talladega High and upon graduation I attended and graduated from New World College of Business.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I love to spend it with family. It’s been a while but, I love to fish. I like to help and volunteer. I try to find a way to involve my grandchildren with any volunteer events. We always volunteer for the Thanksgiving event at the Gadsden Convention Hall, the Humane Society when we can and at several Shelter locations in Etowah County.”

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

“It’s hard to talk about things you are proud of, you feel as if you are bragging about yourself. My greatest professional accomplishment is becoming Director here in Etowah County, I am so very proud to serve here. My greatest personal accomplishment is a 35 year marriage to the same incredible man and my two grown children.  Sounds like dreams do come true.”

Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why?

“Granny Lloyd. She always worked hard, looked pretty and loved much! She didn’t have materials things, she always made memorable moments. Of course, I wasn’t aware of that until after I had grown up. There was always a lesson in what we did together.”

To what do you credit your success?

“I owe thanks and credit to my husband, my children and every member of every EMA Team and staff that I have ever worked with.  Most of all, I owe credit, thanks and love to God because He has ultimately let me choose my path but, He has never left me.” 

Are you involved in any service organizations?

“Yes, I enjoy serving in my community. Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster of Etowah County the United Ways Day of Action; I serve with Keep Etowah Beautiful and the Renew Our Rivers Program.”

What is your favorite thing about this community?

“The people and the beauty of the landscape, there are rivers, lakes, mountains, waterfalls and green fields. Amazing!”

What would you like to see change in the community?

“Well, it not just a community issue, it’s a worldwide issue. Cyber Bullying…we used to think of this as only being a problem with teens but, adults are guilty too. We sit behind a computer screen and think that we can say whatever we like, no matter who it may offend. We forget that there is someone else looking at those words on another computer screen or smartphone. Words can hurt, wound and cause lifelong damage, not only to the heart but to our minds. My grandmother always told me ‘if you can’t say something nice about someone, then don’t say anything at all.’ I suppose we need to change that and now say, ‘If you can’t text/type something good about someone, then don’t text/type at all.’”

What are three words that describe you?

“Strong. Dedicated. Visionary.”

What is something surprising that many do not know about you? 

“I used to have eight children. My husband and I were parents at The King’s Ranch. With our two we added six more overnight. We had seven boys and one girl. I often wonder where all of my children are? I pray they are all healthy, wealthy, wise, kind and loved.”

What is your favorite quote?

“The highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it, but what they become because of it.” – John Ruskin.

What is on your bucket list?

“Travel to Alaska and then to the ‘Tiger’s Nest Monastery’ in Bhutan. I suppose I need to get busy on my list…”

What is your hidden talent?

“Well it must be really hidden because I haven’t found it yet.”

If a movie were made about your life, who would you want to play you?

“Me, of course!”

What advice would you give yourself as a child?

“Be quiet more and listen a lot more.”

If you would like to nominate someone for the People of Etowah column, email or call 256-547-1049.

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