Photo by Johnny Jackson
Residents of GoldenCrest Assisted Living in Morrow surprised Carrie Prince this week with an early celebration of her 100th birthday July 5.
MORROW — Carrie Prince is 100 years young today.
The matriarch began celebrating the milestone early with friends and family.
Home Helpers in-home care services in Stockbridge hosted a shindig Tuesday at GoldenCrest Assisted Living in Morrow.
Helen Byars, marketing director at Home Helpers, said she was honored to help organize the get-together to honor a longtime friend.
“I’ve known Carrie for about 10 years,” said Byars. “She’s very kind-hearted and very smart.”
Prince grew up in Sumter, S.C., the oldest of three children, during the Great Depression. And she succeeded in getting an education and career despite the obstacles of the segregated South. She is a graduate of Lincoln High School and an alum of Morris College.
She and her late husband, Richard, made their home in Jamaica and New York City, where she worked as an actuary. She has lived in the Southern Crescent since the 1990s.
Prince has created an extended family of those she has encountered here over the years.
She joined Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in College Park in 1999.
Her pastor, Rev. Keith L. Reynolds, praised her devotion to her church.
“You don’t get to make 100 years old just by accident,” said Reynolds. “I believe Ms. Prince has been doing a whole lot of praying. Ms. Prince do you do a lot of praying?”
“Yes, Lord,” she said.
Prince was stunned to see her pastor and others at the assisted living home Tuesday. They all surprised her with gifts, cake and ice cream.
She whispered a soft “thank you” to her friends, before she opened her arms and shouted “Welcome.”
“How old am I,” she said, turning to her son, James Prince.
“Sixty,” he answered. “For the longest time, she was 39.”
The crowd laughed.
The 99-year-old grandmother quickly became the life of the party as she heard friends take turns giving words of praise to her and offering her gifts.
One gift was a framed poem Prince had written about her Christian faith. Her granddaughter gave her a pink studded cowboy hat. And members of Christian Fellowship provided her with flowers and a card.
“We have other gifts to give you throughout the week, Ms. Prince,” said Reynolds.
“Are any a 35-year-old man?” she quipped.
Prince was the eldest person in the room and the most relaxed.
“I don’t profess to have answers about life and the human worth of mankind,” she once wrote. “But this I do know, and this I firmly believe: I feel that I’ve been going in the right direction for a long time. Something deep inside tells me so. And that’s why I believe — in God, myself, my church and my people. Yes, I truly believe.”
Prince was the last to speak at her pre-birthday party this week.
“Thank you all for celebrating my 100th birthday,” she said. “Just keep on keeping on and you’ll make it (to 100).”