By Ashley Shepherd
Fred Loveday, left home at the age of 13. He left seeking work and got a job as a bellhop at a hotel in Gatlinburg, and he quickly learned as a young boy how to have a good work ethic. He loved his hometown and looked for successful people to form relationships with, because he knew there was so much opportunity in our area. Mr. James McAfee gave him a job at one of his businesses. My Papaw knew the value of working hard, building relationships, and giving back through the life of Mr. McAfee.
Papaw married Reba Wilson, and they quickly grew their family and developed roots in the area. He continued to work hard and eventually became a very successful businessman owning 2 hotels, a partner at Rockin’ Raceway, Riverside RV Park, and a mini storage as well as lots of properties. This man, the one with a 3rd grade education, caused a ripple effect that was more valuable than money or success. He raised his family to love Jesus and invested in so many lives by giving back to the community. The blessing of this was passed down to my mother and father, Kent and Teresa Loveday. They began managing Riverside RV Park when I was 6 years old and my papaw mentored them on how to successfully grow a business but most importantly, how to influence people.
When my Papaw passed away, it left a huge hole in not just my heart, but also the community’s heart. New Hope Church was packed wall-to-wall with lives he touched. My parents picked up my Papaw’s legacy of growing Riverside RV Park into a place where people would feel God’s Presence when they entered the property. They made sure to value relationships first. Papaw proved that the opportunity to love and serve others through businesses in our area was like none other; he would always tell us it’s our own mission field where people come to us. My parents took great pride in continuing his legacy of being a difference maker in every life they came in contact with.
My daddy preaches every Sunday at Riverside. He calls it the “Church without walls,” and my parents quickly realized the impact it was making on their mission field. In 2006 they started a non-profit called Riverside Mission. They regularly fund Sevier County Food Ministries, and through their faithfulness, God has expanded their influence to help Hope House Orphanage in San Pedro Sula, Honduras since 2004. When the fires happened in the fall of 2016, Riverside Mission helped raise over $30,000 to help fire victims with housing and supplies. My parents are always searching for ways to love and serve in our area.
I can only imagine my Papaw looking down, thankful his legacy of loving people is still alive today. We have shared the story of their great Papaw Fred leaving his house at age 13 to his 6 great grand children in hopes to carry on his ripple effect. It only takes one person to smile, encourage, and love to change another person’s life. We have an incredible opportunity to impact thousands of lives from all over the world in our small town of Sevier County. In the words of my papaw Fred, be kind and show God’s love to everyone you meet.