LaGRANGE — Mary E. Maddox celebrated her 100th birthday with a room full of family and friends who honored the Cannonville community native.
Maddox, born June 11, 1916, has 14 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren. She was born during World War I and lived through World War II. She endured oppression of African-Americans until the civil rights movement and voting act amendment, notes a proclamation from the city of LaGrange, which Councilwoman Norma Tucker presented to Maddox on Saturday.
Tucker was among several people who spoke about the centenarian. Children and grandchildren from all four generations spoke about her Christian love, kindness, hard work ethic and intelligence.
“‘She is the type of grandmother that all the children in the neighborhood want,” said granddaughter Carolyn Davidson. “… She is the type of grandmother that loves all her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. She will make sure they all have gifts during Christmas.”
Daughter Ruby Davidson recalled her mother’s upbringing on a farm, working for $3 per week, which she split with her mother. Maddox worked as a housekeeper until she could no longer work.
“She is a very christian person,” Ruby Davidson said. “She knows how to treat everybody nice and kindly. … Now I look at her sitting there in her rocking chair, and she’s still rocking.”
Maddox said she was “real happy” to have the big showing at Thankful Baptist Church, where she is the oldest member, attending since she was a child. The church also is in the Cannonville community where she grew up and has lived most of her life.
The centenarian said she has had a lot of rough times in her life, working the fields of a farm where she grew up. She also faced prejudice in her youth, but noted she now can openly vote and go into the same stores as everyone else, rights denied to her until she was about 50.
However, relatives recollected that she was always kind and loving.
“Not as many grandchildren are as lucky as me to have a grandmom like you, Carolyn Davidson told the group. She called Maddox “a grandmom, a friend and a mentor.”
Granddaughter Tara Davidson said seeing Maddox alive and well after 100 years was a blessing.
“Who wouldn’t rejoice for her?” she said “… I thank God he’s allowed her 100 — and I’m asking for 100 more.”
Matthew Strother is the editor of LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2153.