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The Dart: ‘Retire’ is not in English professor’s vocabulary

JUSTIN SELLERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Retired English professor Judy Wiggins sits in her home on South Commerce Street Friday afternoon.
JUSTIN SELLERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Retired English professor Judy Wiggins sits in her home on South Commerce Street Friday afternoon.

NATCHEZ — Judy Wiggins still finds time to teach and learn after 30 years as an English instructor at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Although she “retired” four years ago, she still teaches an online class for the Co-Lin and four exercise classes for seniors on campus.

When The Dart landed on South Commerce Street Friday afternoon, Wiggins was enjoying her post-retirement life with a new concept about what “downtime” really means.

“I retired because I wanted to do something different,” she said. “I’m busier now than I ever was when I was working full-time.”

The former humanities coordinator at Co-Lin still leads the exercise classes because of what it provides for students and her.

“I get a lot of positive response from people,” she said. “It is a good feeling. Of course, what I am doing is making people feel good with exercise. We all feel so good when we’re through.”

The online class on study skills is geared to new students in the all-important transition from high school to college.

“There is a huge difference between high school and college, and students need to learn how to study for college-level classes, and that is what I teach,” she said.

When Wiggins breaks from her busy part-time teaching schedule, she continues refurbishment work on her Commerce Street house, which she and husband, Jim, of 23 years, bought three years ago.

They don’t know exactly how old the house is, but it dates back at least 110 years and possibly as many as 140 years.

The couple also found an 1864 map indicating the house’s location was once the site of a pond.

Wiggins said the previous owner was a carpenter and cabinetmaker, and his fingerprints are all over the house’s sturdy nature.

“The house is built from solid cypress wood,” she said. “We have workers come in who’ve busted their saws and told us the house is so solid a tornado would bounce off it.”

After living outside the city limits for many years, Wiggins said she and her husband like being near downtown but appreciate being nestled on a part of the road that is not a major thoroughfare and doesn’t see heavy traffic.

Most of the house’s floors have been refinished, many of the walls have been repainted, and the backyard is in the process of a makeover.

The house and its vibe, Wiggins said, provide a great place for her and her husband to read together and feel at home.

The retired English instructor recently finished rereading “The Scarlet Letter” and has also gone over the entire Jane Austen collection. She also highly recommends “The Hamlet” by William Faulkner.

Wiggins said she loves being surrounded by the old books in her new house. Her “semi-retired” lifestyle has allowed her to enjoy a storybook narrative.