A life of savoring the flavors of the South
Betty Hooks Underwood's roots at the University of Georgia run deep—even though her life now has her firmly established across the Alabama state line.
As one of six children growing up in rural South Georgia, Underwood (B.S.Ed. '53) says she always knew she would go to college and that it would be at the University of Georgia. After graduating with a degree in education, Underwood met her future husband, Dr. Bobby Underwood, while she was teaching in Savannah.
Because teaching is one career that can be done most anywhere, Underwood took her talents to Atlanta and then, after she and Bobby were married, taught in Birmingham while Bobby finished his dentistry training at the University of Alabama. They settled in Atlanta—Underwood raised the children while her husband grew a thriving dental practice—but longed for a slower-paced life outside the city.
"Word got out that my husband was looking to move from Atlanta, and a dentist in Jasper, Alabama, called my husband and said, 'Don't do anything until you call me.' They were in desperate need."
After establishing his new practice in Alabama—and giving back to his community through his knowledge and service—the family continued to expand its horizons. Underwood received her master of education from the University of Alabama and their oldest daughter, Betsy, later enrolled there as an undergraduate. Their visits to their daughter changed the course of their careers.
"There weren't many good restaurants in Tuscaloosa," says Underwood. One day, Bobby visited a small barbecue stand on the outskirts of town. "He brought me back a slab of ribs and got to telling me all about it and just really fell for it."
When they visited Tuscaloosa, they would visit the restaurant, Dreamland Bar-B-Que. Bobby became friends with the owner, and one day asked a fateful question: "How would you like the people to enjoy your ribs after you're gone?"
"He agreed for us to open in Birmingham, and then two years later we opened the one in Mobile," Underwood says. Today, Dreamland Bar-B-Que has 10 locations across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, as well as a thriving catering business, mail-order business, and eight stadium concession locations, including Sanford Stadium at UGA.
And with restaurants in the metro Atlanta area, it gives Underwood a good excuse to rekindle her Georgia roots. "I think about my daddy and how proud he would be, because of the University of Georgia," she says. "He just wanted us all to get our degrees from there."