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Women Roofers Have Served 18 Years Together; In Scruffy Jeans, Heat And Cold, They Roofed 139 Houses

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Though they have now roofed 139 houses, this photo was taken at the 100th house celebration July 8-9, 2016. They are FIRST ROW (left to right): Beth Archer, Jane Alexander Bell, Lori Herrick, Caroline Blanton Scruggs, Lynn Blanton; MIDDLE ROW (left to r

They are among Rutherford County's most famous citizens, not for singing, dancing or throwing a football, but for putting roofs on houses.

The Women Roofers can be contacted through their Facebook page or at the office of Rutherford Housing Partnership, 828-248-3431. They are always looking for new recruits.

Lori Hendrick, Susie Kernodle, and Jane Alexander Bell joined Nell Bovender, who retains head knocker duties, for an afternoon story swap to talk about their 18-year journey together.

"There was the wet t-shirt house," Nell remembered. "It started pouring rain and we didn't have the paper down yet. We had to get the paper down, so we ended up soaked and in wet t-shirts, but we got it done."

They went three times to help repair the damage of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, once to Gulfport and twice to Pearlington.

"While in Gulfport, we were on a roof where it was 110 degrees," Hendrick remembered. "We would finish a row and come down and drink a bottle of water, go back up, finish a row and come down and drink another bottle of water."

Part of the appeal for Kernodle is the nontraditional role. "I'm supposed to be home cooking a cake or fixing a meal for somebody who's sick or knitting. Instead, I'm up on a roof in old scruffy blue jeans getting absolutely filthy. That's supposed to be a man's job," she said.

Men, or the lack thereof, might get some credit for the inception of the group.

Hendrick said, "Susie and I were up on the roof with Billy Honeycutt and the rest of our Sunday School Class didn't show. Mostly it was our husbands." Hendrick's son, Scott, was on the roof with them at age six. When they finished the job, Lori said, "I know I can find ten women who will put roofs on houses." Honeycutt said, "I can teach anybody to roof a house."

18 years later they are still at it.

"And there was the fried pie house," Nell said. "One woman was making fried pies while we were roofing her house."

"And the chicken fighting house," Kernodle added. "There were chickens fighting in the yard."

There are 18 years worth of stories.

If you really want your heart warmed, spend 2 minutes and 39 seconds watching this video https://www.facebook.com/Women-Roofers-203120526529340/videos/725716244507870.

Produced by Kernodle's son, David at Spiracle Media (spiraclebuzz.com) the video is about the WeBuild camp which brought middle school girls together to learn how to do carpentry, run power tools and do other tasks that were once thought of as boys only.

Bovender recently retired as head of the Rutherford Housing Partnership but will continue her work with The Women Roofers.

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