Around the Southwood Nursing Center, Annie Grace Hampton Faison is known at the “diva,” because of the details she puts into her appearance.
The modest and quiet lady recently celebrated her 103rd birthday with close friends, residents and Southwood staff. With a smile, she spoke about the secret of her longevity in a funny way — staying away from water for many years.
“They said they found a man in the water tank,” Faison said about being turned off by H2O after hearing about a rumor.
Before her latest health problems became known, Faison would let everyone know that her favorite drink was root beer and Pepsi. She also ate anything she desired. That all changed a few years ago when she realized the importance of making healthy choices. She’s now drinking more water, enjoying a balanced diet and getting more sleep.
The water tale was one of many she enjoys sharing with people. Born on Feb. 28, 1915, the Greensboro native was the only child in her family. In school, she learned at a fast pace in the public school system. At 16, she met her future husband, Frank Faison. He was a student at North Carolina A&T University. Annie Grace remembered a moment she helped Frank draw an American map with crops in each state.
“That map was the best map in the school,” she said.
After graduation, he was unable to find work as an agriculture extension agent because of segregation and discrimination policies, but was offered an opportunity in Russia to teach advances in farming to impact productivity. He refused to leave the country without the love of his life and asked for Annie Grace’s hand in marriage and convinced her family that he would take care of her. Shortly after, the newlyweds went to the ocean liner and spent six years in Russia.
They returned to the United States in 1937 and came to Sampson County. Frank became a agriculture extension agent and Annie Grace became a nursing assistant at Sampson Memorial Hospital for 30 years. Together, Frank and Annie Grace had two children, Willie Frank and Cora Louise Faison.
She’s been a member of First Baptist Church of Clinton for more than 70 years and served in various ways. Faison sung in the choir and her favorite hymns are “Nearer my God to Thee” and “Amazing Grace.” Her time, talents and tithes were generously given to the church. Her favorite scripture from the Bible is Psalm 23 and finds comfort, solace and peace in the words.
Some of Faison’s hobbies includes solving Sudoku puzzles, reading the Sampson Independent and spending time with family and friend. A few of favorite television shows are “Cheaters,” and judge programs such ad “Judge Mathis,” “The People’s Court,” and “Justice with Judge Mablean.”
Supporters expressed how she adores her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces, church family, her close friend Annie Ruth Faison and her roommate, Mrs. Carrie. She also enjoys the staff of Southwood.
“They take good care of me,” she said. “I enjoy the food and the service.”
She chuckled about not having enough meat sometimes, because of her age.
“They grind up my food … I can mix it all together and eat it in no time,” she said with laughter.
Others said she’s an amazing woman and God-fearing individual with a beautiful smile. It was also noted that she loves deeply, gives generously and has a compassionate heart. At 103, her mind stays sharp and witty. One of her biggest philosophies is to be kind to people. She spent many years showing kindness as a nurse. A lot of her former patients now come and spend time with her at Southwood.
“It’s important,” she said. “It always pays off.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.