By Melanie Petersen / Correspondent
OVILLA – Community members, friends, family, past and present students came together Aug. 4 to honor Bill and Noma Lankford, owners of Happy House Day Care since 1975.
They were married July 4 1958. Noma worked at Southwestern Bell for 10 years before having their two daughters Sonya and Connie.
Bill worked for Southwestern Bell and retired in 1986 after 36 years.
In the 60’s she served in their church day care teaching three-year-olds, then the kindergarten class
Langford said, “It was during this time that I learned how much I loved children, teaching and guiding them, I knew one day I would have a center of my own.”
The couple moved to Ovilla in 1970. She found the perfect spot for her dream day care business and purchased the house and property located at 2518 Ovilla Rd. from a couple she met at Hillcrest Baptist Church.
The Lankford’s worked night and day painting, gathering toys, making tables, benches and lockers to get the business started in 1975.
Happy House has been in continuous operation since it opened serving hundreds of children over the years. Many of those grew up and brought their own children back to the center for day care.
Over the years the building has been remodeled and outbuildings have been added.
One of her very first students, Mark Watson planned the reception to honor his and others memories of attending Happy House Day Care.
Watson told stories of his happy memories growing up at the center and introduced Ovilla Mayor Richard Dormier who was on hand to present a proclamation recognizing the Lankfords. He proclaimed that Jan. 18, 2018 will be Bill and Noma Langford Day in Ovilla and she would serve as the Grand Marshal for the Ovilla Heritage Day Parade in September this year.
Noma Lankford said, “I have ever doubted that Happy House is my calling from God, To have Happy House kids bring their own children is such a blessing. “I love seeing all my kids come back to visit. Because I have been given so much, I run it with my heart and not my head. Words could never express my thankfulness and gratefulness for all of God’s blessings.”
The couple’s oldest daughter Sonya Jenkins is a teacher at Ovilla Christian School and daughter Connie Easdon is now the director of the center.
Sadly Bill passed away in 1990, however, Noma, now in her 80’s, still comes to work every day to oversee the operation.