By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — A community advocate pulled an April Fool’s Day joke on the man she loves by luring him to a church and proposing marriage in front of relatives.

“I was shocked,” says David Baugh, now the happy fiancé of Clemmie Greenlee, founder of Moms Over Murder which met April 1 in Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church on 33rd Avenue North.

Greenlee planned the surprise for about a month. Baugh was called to help set up a church meeting. Relatives hid in adjoining rooms before he arrived and then quietly crept in as Greenlee distracted Baugh.

“April Fool,” she told him dropping to her left knee and opening a ring box.

Of course he said yes. They’d talked about it, but he didn’t expect 40 witnesses.

“They got me good,” Baugh said. “And you’ve got to be pretty slick to pull one over on me.

“Then I saw my family. I hadn’t seen … some in more than 10 years. It brought tears to my eyes. She brought family together … There was so much joy,” Baugh said.

His brother, James Baugh of Madison, said he didn’t know how the couple met, adding, “It’s a good thing they did … She’s good for him and he’s good for her.”

David Baugh is the youngest among five sisters and a brother; all born in Franklin and raised in Nashville since 1965.

Greenlee and Baugh are in their 60s. They met when living with parents on Eastland Avenue off Gallatin Road. Life took them in different directions. Both know rough streets, crime and paid debts to society.

Now, he said, “Our lives are changed.”

Another change struck Dec. 8, 2003 when Greenlee’s son, Rodriquez, then 29, died in East Nashville. “Detectives said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Greenlee said. “I never wanted to remember he was murdered.” April 1 is Rodriquez’s birthday. Remembering his birthday reminded her he’s gone.

“Now, I can look at April 1 as the day I got engaged,” she said.

Knowing how she felt, Greenlee’s family didn’t talk about Rodriquez and behaved like April 1 was a normal day. Moms Over Murder “helped me face my demons,” she said. MOMs started after her nephew was murdered in 2014.

Nearly five years later, Greenlee and Baugh were reunited. “For 20 years, I carried him in my heart,” she said.

Both speak openly about their past. Baugh “was locked up” when he saw a chance to find her, they said. Greenlee’s niece, Chiquta Greenlee, was filling commissary vending machines. David saw her and called her name to make sure it was her.

“She gave him my phone number,” Greenlee said. “I was looking for him. He called Nov. 24, 2019.”

Baugh is working in Mount Juliet at the next Amazon building, assembling cubicles and conference rooms, he said. Off duty, he fills and delivers food boxes, tells children to stay in school. His probation ends in September.

Greenlee said her probation ended Friday. She went to the courthouse to get her record expunged so she can vote, get a house and a good paying job. She’s a community worker with homeless and inner-city people, and runs non-profit organizations: MOMs; Nashville Peacemakers; and Back to Basics.

“I’m a happy woman,” she said. “My life has changed, and he got a ring for me, too.”

They’re to be married by Tabernacle of Glory Pastor William Green. As for when that happens, Baugh said, “I don’t have a clue. I’m just waiting for her to tell me, but I am ready.

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...