Distinguished Through the Decades: 1968, Beverly (Clark) Wiginton
Progress 2022: Distinguished Through the Decades
“I was just very involved in high school. It was natural for me.”
Beverly Wiginton – then Clark – was Franklin County’s Junior Miss in 1968, participating in the competition as a natural extension of her passion for being involved in just about everything. The Russellville High alum was a majorette and sought different leadership positions during her high school years. She said she enjoyed school and was friendly with all her classmates. Outside the classroom, she enjoyed activities like swimming, water skiing and boating.
After high school, she originally planned to go to The University of Alabama, but she followed a boyfriend to Florence State University, which later became the University of North Alabama. When they broke up, she moved on to Auburn University.
“My dad graduated from Alabama, and my mother graduated from Auburn,” Wiginton explained. “I could have gone to either and they would have been happy.”
Although she was majoring in biology, Wiginton said she was really working on her “MRS degree.” After two years at Auburn she got married and started a family in the Florence area. While her two daughters were young, she started a jewelry business called Sidelines, LTD in the late 1970s. “I just kind of fell into it and realized it was natural for me … I had a storefront in English Village in Florence. We designed jewelry and started a lot of fads, actually,” Wiginton said. “Cloisonné beads – we made those popular. They were round beads made in China. They were enamel. Every time they put a color on them, they fired them again, so it was a long process. They were beautiful – all colors and with flowers on them.”
“We made all kinds of earrings and necklaces,” added Wiginton, who started the shop with one other woman before bringing two additional jewelry-makers in later on. After their beginnings operating out of the top floor of another shop, they then progressed to their own storefront.
“It was a lot of juggling,” said Wiginton, who had to balance jewelry-making and selling with being the mother of two young girls, Dawn and Kira. “They loved it – the older they got, especially, because they enjoyed the benefits.”
The burgeoning jewelry artist went through a divorce from her first husband, but she soon married Phil Wiginton after mutual friends introduced them. The two have now been happily married 35 years.
In 1995 she decided to get out of the jewelry business. “We sold it as an ongoing business, and it’s still going on today,” Wiginton said. “That’s close to my heart.”
Jewelry-making would not be Wiginton’s last artistic endeavor. With a non-compete clause in place, she needed to find another outlet than jewelry-making. That’s when she took up pottery.
“Most of it is utilitarian – you can use it and cook it,” said Wiginton, who has now been crafting pottery pieces for 17 years. For a long time her signature piece were ikebana vases. “I sold hundreds of them because they are just so neat.” The unique vases are designed to be part of the traditional Japanese flower arrangement style for which they are named.
Hand-crafted egg trays are now Wiginton’s bread and butter, but she said she enjoys trying different pieces. “I start with a flat slab and just mold it,” she explained. She avoids working on a wheel, as it aggravates the arthritis in her neck from the many years of jewelry-making.
“Pottery started out as a hobby, and that’s what I’d prefer it to be, but my husband said if I brought any more in the house, I’d have to take some out the back,” Wiginton joked. That’s how she began selling her pieces. She attends a craft show now and then, but primarily she works directly with customers who seek her out.
Outside of her creative forays, Wiginton is driven by family and faith. She attends The Chapel in Florence, and she said faith is what helped get her through some tough years in her first marriage and what enriches her life now.
“I would really like to see all my grandchildren married to the Christian God chooses for them and have happy, fulfilled lives,” she said. “That’s my heart.” Between them, Beverly and Phil have four children and now eight grandchildren, who range from 8-20 years old – seven girls and one boy.
The 71-year-old has a family history deeply rooted in Russellville, with her grandparents having started Clark’s Department Store and her parents carrying on its operation.
Wiginton said representing Franklin County as Junior Miss was thrilling and an honor. “It was really rewarding. I met so many nice girls.
“And I’m very thankful to be where I am now.”