UNION CHAPEL — This was no ordinary birthday party, and the guest of honor had an unusual birthday request — a horse and buggy.
“I’d ride all day,” said Dorothy Locklear Clark, who celebrated her 104th birthday Saturday afternoon in the fellowship hall of the Union Chapel Holiness Methodist Church. Clark was born in the Union Chapel community in the horse and buggy era, and she was in her home church.
There was a beautiful spread of cakes and fruit on display, but Clark had her heart set on a piece of coconut cake, one of her few weaknesses. Her friends say she retains a certain “sassiness,” even at 104, but Clark overlooked the comment.
When it came to explaining her longevity, Clark said, “I was good to my parents. I never sassed them. I did get a few whippings.”
There was also some talk about a daily sip of blackberry wine being good for a long life. Like almost every one in the room who was even close to her age, Clark grew up on a farm, working in cotton and tobacco fields with her family.
This tough lady was so determined to celebrate another birthday, she shook of the effects of a fall earlier in the week that cost her a day in the hospital.
She did not always live in Union Chapel. Clark’s married life carried her to Arnold, Nebraska, where she worked odd jobs and helped her husband run a small ranch.
“You can’t keep her down,” said her niece Willie Ree Chavis, a spring chicken at 93.
Life in Nebraska was tough, according to family members Ronnie and Charity Revels.
“Snow? You never saw such snow,” Charity said. “We had hail and thunderstorms so loud, I told my husband, we had to go home.”
Ronnie laughed, and said, “They told us the store was ‘just down the road.’ Fifty miles down the road. They lived like we did 100 years ago.”
The death of her husband in 1975 brought Clark home for good. She said they didn’t have any collards in Nebraska anyway.
There were plenty of friends on hand to help Clark celebrate. Lee Maynor, who was caught on camera giving her a birthday kiss, called Clark his “oldest girl friend.”
Angie Revels was there with her daughter. Clark is Angie’s great-great-aunt, so that makes her a great-great-great aunt as well.
Bobby Locklear, who does missionary work at Prathen Family Home Care, where Clark lives, visits with Clark almost daily. “She calls me her second son,” he said. “Meeting with her has been an encouragement for me.”
Bobby Locklear, who helped organize the event, called it “an historic occasion, because it’s not every day you can sit down with a lady who is 104.”
Clark offered a correction, saying she will be 104 on Friday; she was born on Jan. 19, 1914, a Monday, about seven months before the start of World War I.
“Ms. Dorothy’s life spanned from the horse and buggy days to a moon shot,” said Anthony Chavis said.
“She’s a loving, caring person, who reached out to people and kept God at the center of her life,” said Rev. Dufrene Cummings.
It was a sweet celebation that included a few songs and the second verse to “Happy Birthday” that goes: “How old are you?”
There is something to that Biblical quotation about “honor thy father and thy mother,” Lee Maynor said.
Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 or email@example.com.