Originally created 05/13/02

Athenian celebrates 107 years



ATHENS, Ga. - Inez Wilson is all smiles when she recalls the events of her life - memories, she concedes, that are getting harder to come by as the years progress.

"When you have so much to remember, it just kind of comes and goes," the Madison County native said with a grin Saturday while celebrating her 107th birthday. "It's hard to remember way back yonder ... back then we wasn't interested in trying to remember."

Few could find fault with Ms. Wilson for those memory gaps because, according to her daughter Annette Harper, she is probably the oldest person in Athens.

"I just bet she is," said the 78-year-old Ms. Harper, who lives with her mother in a modest, prettily decorated brick home in west Athens. "She just takes it easy; she never worries."

There are a few things Ms. Wilson - born in 1895 in Madison County and reared on a farm in Greene County - does remember quite clearly.

For example, she remembers being a mother.

"Oh yeah," she said with pride when asked whether she recalled bearing her two children, Annette and Herman. "My mother had seven, and I had two."

She recalls that her family raised cotton, corn and wheat on the farm.

"And we made syrup, too," she offered.

She remembers seeing her first automobile when she was 11 or 12 and says that she had "never been on no airplane to brag about" until she was well into her 90s.

She also remembers marrying her husband, Hugh, who died in 1961.

"We didn't have no wedding," Ms. Wilson said. "We just went (to the preacher's house) and got married."

Ms. Harper, who cares for her mother and acts as a translator when Ms. Wilson can't hear, said her mother used to be an excellent seamstress. Since her vision declined, though, Ms. Wilson is content to spend time with "her baby," a 10-year-old black poodle named Sparky.

She noted that her mother forgoes television and reading these days. She is a diabetic, but that hasn't affected her relatively easy mobility with a walker and her quick grin.

She flashes that grin again when asked how she feels about Bethel Church in Greensboro - the one she attended when she lived with her recently deceased son - and the congregation's decision to put flowers in the church Sunday in honor of her.

"I feel good about it, but I wish I could see more," she said with a twinkle in her eye.

Ms. Harper said she planned to her mother out to dinner for her birthday and to Bethel Church for Mother's Day. She said the secret to her mother's long life is easy: "She just takes it one day at a time."

"When you have so much to remember, it just kind of comes and goes. It's hard to remember way back yonder ... back then we wasn't interested in trying to remember." - Inez Wilson, who turned 107 on Saturday