Wanda Meeks is a familiar face in Coalmont as the owner of S.A.M.S. Corner. Here at the Herald, her salads and sandwiches are among our favorites. We were excited when she agreed to be our Neighbor of the Week.
Wanda was born in Cleveland, Ohio, where she lived until age eight, when her family moved to Grundy County.
“We moved to Palmer on my eighth birthday,” says Wanda. “My daddy is the late Leonard Layne, my mother is Troas Knowlan Layne, and I am the only girl out of five children and the oldest. My brothers are Delbert, Tony, Doyle, and Russell Layne. My grandparents are from Palmer where I was raised. My dad’s mom and dad were Frank and Edith Morton Layne, and my mother’s parents were John Lafayette and Maggie ‘Plummer’ Davis Knowlan.
“I graduated from Palmer Elementary School in 1970. My favorite teachers were Rachel Geary and Francis Conry. I played basketball under Bobby Sitz, a great coach. We had many plays during those years – once I was Martha Washington and once I was ‘Little Orphan Annie.’ I have naturally curly hair; I guess that is why Rachel Geary picked me.”
Wanda attended Grundy County High School, graduating in 1970.
“My area of study was Science and VOE. Fred Parks was principal; Buford Newsome was vice- principal. We were the generation of change: miniskirts, fast cars, Vietnam War, 18 year old’s could vote and legally drink (but not me, my dad would apply the rod of correction if we got caught).
“I loved VOE, we took shorthand, did transcript, typed letters, filed, and loved Mrs. O’Dear. We couldn’t wait to get to vocation classes.”
After high school, Wanda attended Tennessee Tech.
“I started college at Tennessee Tech University in 1985 and graduated in 1990. I began as a computer tech but changed to Elementary Education. I was hired as a teacher’s assistant in 1986 at Swiss Memorial under a grant for low-income areas of Tennessee under Superintendent Keith Brewer.
“When I finished college, I was hired at Coalmont Elementary School as a special education teacher. I went back in 1991 and got my certification in special education and finished my Master’s Degree in 1993 in Leadership and Supervision Then, I received my Educational Specialist (EdS) in 1995 in Educational Curriculum and Elementary Principalship.
“I was the special education lead teacher until I wrote the Federal Reading First Grant along with Elizabeth ‘Sissy’ Davis Foster, and I supervised the grant from 2004-2009. I was the first Literacy Leader/ Coach in Grundy County. I loved those years, the teachers learned so much about improving reading, the beginning of Tier Reading, and RTI.
“I then taught fourth grade for one year after the grant, while working with Kathy Meeks and Elizabeth Foster to write the first L.E.A.P.S. Grant for Coalmont School.
“I retired from teaching in 2013; I felt it was time for me to leave education. I subbed a little that last year.”
Wanda soon began her next journey.
“Ethlyn and Ted Wofford, the owners of the Creighton Store asked me if I would like to start a business. My Husband Lee, of 39 (almost 40) years, offered to help me start a deli. So, he came out of retirement after seven years. We called it S.A.M.S. Corner – Simply Amazing Memories Shared.
“I cook with my mother, Troas, and our daughter April Anderson. We serve soups, salads, and sandwiches Monday- Thursday and plate lunches on Friday. We have homemade cakes and pies. A favorite is the Hummingbird Cake, it seems people like that and our homemade chicken salad on a croissant seems to be the favorite sandwich. We change soups daily but serve pinto beans and cornbread every day.”
Wanda is married to Lee Meeks from Gruetli-Laager, where they make their home.
“We have three children: April (Brent) Anderson from Coalmont, and their children Cullen and Maci; Tracey (Kim) Meeks from Winchester, and their children Josh, Maggie, and Claire; and Steven (Shannon) Meeks from Gruetli-Laager, and their children Ethan and Makenzie.”
Wanda is also active in the local community.
“I work with Ray Winton with the Christmas Express, and with the Community Awareness to provide lunches here in Coalmont. I am a Sunday School Teacher at Bivens Chapel Church.
“I love the people in Grundy and I have taught their children and grandchildren. I enjoy the stories at the store, the walks back in time, the pictures, the prayer request, and the time I spend with my family who work with me every day. Oh how God has blessed me.”
Wanda does have a few surprises.
“I am very social and I love being around people, but I have a very quick temper, I have prayed about that and am controlling it much better now. I don’t care for chocolate or too many sweets; my weaknesses are potato chips and ice cream.
“I love to cook and make people happy with food. Come on out and see us sometime we can make you happy too with our food.”