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Mazie Williams still hopping' after 100 years

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Mazie Williams has her own way of doing things.

She came up with her way of cooking a pot roast when she was a teenager helping to raise her four siblings - buy a tender cut of meat and slowly cook it on the stove so it remains tender.

Much like her recipe for cooking a roast, Williams has developed her own approach to life which helped her reach the century mark on Feb. 28.

"I just keep on hopping and not stopping," she said.

On Saturday, Williams celebrated her 100th birthday with more than 50 friends and family members at the Charlie Griswell Senior Center in Jonesboro.

As the guests arrived at the center and entered the banquet hall, Williams was sitting in a side room, waiting to make her entrance.

She entered the room on the arm of her son, Wesley, wearing a princess crown that had red and green blinking lights on it, and a purple sash that said "100 years, I'm hopping, not stopping," in silver letters.

Williams was born in Amelia, Va., in 1907, but moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1924. Shortly thereafter, she met the Rev. Andrew Williams and they were married 1927 until his death in 1996.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Mazie Williams began making pocket books and hats that she sold to her neighbors. She did it as a way to make some money for herself while passing the time away.

"I would go to a hat supplier that was on 38th Street in Manhattan to get what I needed," she said. "The style back then was to wear a big hat with lots of flowers."

Mazie and Andrew Williams moved to Burgaw, N.C., in the late 1970s, where they owned a small farm.

She began spending her time with her children after her husband's death.

Williams spends six months of the year living in Jonesboro with her son and his wife. She goes to the Griswell Senior Center three days a week where she participates in activities such as dominos and bingo.

She goes to the Shelnutt Senior Center two days a week to participate in the ceramics class. In that class, Williams makes items such as bowls and birds.

"I tell some of other people who come to the center that they should never give up, and that they need to get out of bed every day," Williams said. "If you lay in bed all day, you'll get weaker and weaker and sicker and sicker."

Debra Jordan, congregate site coordinator for the Clayton County Aging Program, has known Williams for four years. She describes Williams as someone who's very alert and full of life.

"It's just God's grace that's kept her alive this long," Jordan said.

While Williams enjoys life in Jonesboro, she spends the other half of the year in Brooklyn with her daughter, Mozelle Vample.

Vample said Williams raised her children to respect other people and believe in God.

"She's a wonderful lady, very God-fearing," Vample said. "She's also always been able to do for others and do for herself."

Williams can still do a lot for herself as she enters her second century, her children said.

Vample said her mother can still cook meals like her tender pot roasts and she cleans up behind herself and others as well. It's through those activities and her involvement at the senior centers that has allowed Williams to remain young at heart.

But she's not ready to look at the future as working on tackling another century.

"I don't feel 100 yet," she said. "I'm just thankful to be alive this long. I don't know why God kept me alive this long, but I'm glad he has."