By Valerie Baldowski
Together with some of her family members, Lois Dyche celebrated a century of living, loving, and laughing.
Dyche, of McDonough, was born Sept. 10, 1910, and turned 100 on Friday. To mark the occasion, some members of her large family gathered at Westbury Health and Rehabilitation Center on Sunday to wish her a happy birthday and cut the traditional birthday cake. Dyche has four children, 15 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren, and 28 great-great grandchildren, according to Agnes Pickering, one of Dyche's daughters.
Despite losing a parent at a young age, Dyche, a Covington native, went on to live a full life, Pickering said. When Dyche was 7 years old, her mother died from pneumonia, and she was sent to live with a family in Atlanta, said Pickering. Her overall experiences with the family were pleasant, and Dyche kept in touch with them after reaching adulthood, said Pickering.
She said Dyche's upbeat attitude prolonged her life. "She's always been happy. I can never remember my mother not laughing," Pickering said. "She just approached life by being positive. Laughter is the best medicine."
Dyche had a strong religious background, and she met her late husband, Clyde, at church in the late 1920s. After courting, they were married on July 14, 1929, about two months before Dyche's 19th birthday, said Pickering.
Children followed soon after, with their first daughter, Peggy Buckner, born on May 15, 1930. A second daughter, Connie Britt, (deceased) was born Dec. 9, 1931. Pickering was born Oct. 15, 1933, and Dyche's only son, Robert, (deceased) was born April 26, 1938.
Dyche and her family attended church regularly. She participated in church fund-raisers, and served as a Sunday School teacher during the 1940s, said Pickering.
"We didn't have a car, Daddy walked us to church," she said. "Every time the church doors opened, we were [there.]"
The regular exercise from walking may have added years to Dyche's life, said Peggy Buckner, another of Dyche's daughters. "We walked a lot. We had to walk everywhere we went," said Buckner. "Even if we went to a streetcar, we had to walk about a mile. Later, we had feeder buses come in, but we still had to walk a quarter of a mile."
Pickering said beginning in 1946, Dyche worked at Davison's Department Store in downtown Atlanta, off and on, as a sales representative for 30 years. Although few women worked outside the home during the 1940s, Pickering said her mother refused to let obstacles stand in the way of getting a job. The job was a way for Dyche to help provide for her family, said Pickering. "She just decided [because] she had three teenage daughters, we needed a lot of clothes and stuff," she continued.
Pickering said she speaks of her mother in the past tense these days because Dyche suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. "She's not here, her mind is not here. She's not herself," said Pickering. "Mother loved people, and she loved to be out and about."
Dyche loved animals, and her children grew up with cats and dogs. She also regularly fed the birds in her yard, said Pickering. "She always had an animal of some sort, anything that flew or walked," she said.
Dyche also enjoyed picking the fruit from fruit trees and bushes in her yard, and making homemade preserves, Pickering said. "One of her favorite things was making jelly," she added. "[She made] any kind of jelly, muscadine, strawberry, anything that was available."
Karen Pittman, Dyche's oldest granddaughter, has pleasant memories of Dyche. Often, she would stop by Dyche's job at the department store for a visit, said Pittman. "Me and my mom would go downtown on the bus, from Forest Park, to see grandmother working at Davison's," she said.
Pittman regularly visited her grandmother at home as well, and Dyche was always ready to give out sweets to the children. "All my cousins would go over every Sunday evening, and we would all get together, play in the yard, and then watch TV. That's when I first saw the Beatles on TV," Pittman said. "When we all started to leave, she would hand us a little bag of chocolate candy."
Pittman and her cousins would take turns spending the night at Dyche's house on Friday nights, and she remembers being treated with chocolate and cola each time. "That's why I love Coke and chocolate candy," added Pittman.