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Chambers County native holds centennial birthday

LANETT — The sounds of soul music poured out of the dining room while white and red balloons hung around black-clothed tables at Lanett Diversicare Thursday evening, all in celebration of one woman.

Mary Frances Smedley, a Chambers County native and lifelong resident, turned 100 years old this week. Friends from Diversicare, members of the staff who are closest to Smedley, and her family all gathered around for the centennial celebrations.

“I would like to say we love you, Mother Smedley,” said activities director Melinda Joseph. “You give us many laughs, I always enjoy sitting with you and I pray to God that he will bless you on this very special birthday.”

Smedley, dressed to the nines with hair and makeup done by beautician Tobby Leverett, was happy to see everyone gathered to celebrate her special day.

“I feel just so very good today,” Smedley said.

Smedley said that the key to living to such an old age was staying busy and being determined, making sure to keep one’s faith strong.

“I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and I thank the Lord for every day I’ve had.” Smedley said.

Along with the rest of her family, Smedley’s two living daughters Geneva Holloway and Mary Huguley were in attendance. She was also mother to Sophia Bailey and Timothy Smedley, both of whom have passed.

Smedley worked as a maid most of her life, according to her daughter. She is known around Chambers County for her sense of humor and warm personality.

“Miss Smedley has been a blessing to us here at Diversicare,” Joseph said. “There’s a lot of knowledge and a lot of wisdom that we have gotten from her, along with a lot of laughs. We are so blessed to have her here.”

To help with the festivities, Pastor Karanja Story of Rehoboth Missionary Baptist Church played the saxophone, April Ross livestreamed the celebrations on Bee-TV, Xavier Joseph took photos to commemorate the event and Valley KFC donated food.