By Morgan Bryce
This is the fourth and final installment of a four-part series of prominent Opelikans and their favorite Christmas memories or traditions. On behalf of the Opelika Observer staff, we hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season ahead.
Christmastime in Opelika is a season that reminds Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller that faith is a cornerstone to the development and growth of the city he leads.
“Our community is more than 164 years old and I believe strong families of faith, with our many churches, are the primary reason for our success,” Gary said.
Born in Dadeville, Gary said he grew up in a poor household where Christmas gifts and traditions were sparse, but does recall a special gift from his youth.
“I got a Daisy BB gun when I was about eight or nine years old. My dad must have warned me at least 50 times not to point it at anyone and shoot out their eye,” Gary remembered.
A graduate of Opelika’s Southern Union campus, Gary would go on to found “Fuller Broadcasting Company, Inc.” in 1985. Operating six local radio stations, the company was lauded for its coverage and contributions to the community it served.
Later, he made the news waves by becoming city councilman for Ward 4 and being elected as mayor in 2004, winning re-election in 2008, 2012 (unopposed) and again in 2016.
Married to his wife Laura for 38 years, Fuller said early traditions always revolved around their family and two children, Ginny and Gary Jr.
“When Ginny and Gary were very young we started a tradition of making eggs benedict for Christmas brunch. Ginny makes the hollandaise sauce, Gary Jr. prepares the English muffins, Laura does the asparagus and I poach the eggs,” Gary said. “We always go to a movie on Christmas afternoon (too).”
Though they are empty nesters, Gary said he and Laura enjoy hosting their children for Christmas visits and participating in Christmas Eve services at their place of worship, First United Methodist Church in downtown Opelika in celebration of Jesus’s birth.
“(Christmas) means ‘advent,’ which is about watching and waiting on God’s plan to unfold. It’s a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas and His return at the Second Coming,” Gary said. “It’s a holy time as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a wonderful time to be with friends and family but Jesus really is the reason for the season.”