Retired math teacher publishes book to help build animal shelter

Daisy Aycock and Gracie hope their book will help raise money to build a much-needed new animal shelter. (Picture This! by Anthony)

Daisy Aycock and Gracie hope their book will help raise money to build a much-needed new animal shelter. (Picture This! by Anthony)

By Leslie Criss

Daily Journal

Before Daisy Aycock begins talking about the book she’s penned and published, she offers an apology of sorts.

“I’m a math teacher, not a writer.”

Still, this 33-year veteran teacher clearly has a way with words.

In “Letters from Gracie,” the ebullient grandmother and great-grandmother, has compiled letters written to her granddaughter Ashley Snyder when she was deployed in Kosovo in Operation Enduring Freedom.

However, these are not letters from a grandmother to a granddaughter. Aycock penned the letters in the voice of Gracie, her soldier granddaughter’s Yorkie who was staying with Aycock during the deployment.

“I just thought it would be fun for Ashley to hear from Gracie,” Aycock said.

Little did she know how popular the postings would become with not only Snyder, but her fellow deployed soldiers.

“Ashley would tell me when she’d get mail they’d all gather and ask if another letter from Gracie had come,” she said. “The letters were shared with others.”

Later, Aycock was told by her granddaughter and her friends she should put the Gracie letters in a book and publish them. Snyder’s friend Bethany Rogers, who’d appreciated the sharing of the letters while also deployed, agreed to illustrate.

Aycock started on this project, but when Snyder and Rogers were once again deployed, it was sort of put on the back burner.

Last summer, Aycock was traveling with her friend Doris Riddle, and they began talking about their bucket lists.

“I told her I really would like to have the book published, but it wasn’t even finished,” she said.

Riddle agreed to help finish the illustrations.

The former Tupelo High School and Mooreville High School math teacher, Aycock has had a lifetime love affair with dogs.

“I have rescued dogs all my life,” she said. “When another one would wander up after being dumped on the Trace, I’d go to school, write on the board what color they were, what they looked like, and by the end of the day, a student would say they’d take the dog.”

Now Aycock is trying to help her four-legged friends again. She believes fervently in the need for a new facility for the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society.

In fact, she is giving 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of “Letters from Gracie” to the shelter’s building fund.

Ashley Snyder, who remains in the military, lives in Tupelo with her two children, Katelyn 4, and Wyatt, 2. They often visit Aycock, who is now the permanent owner of 7-year-old Gracie.