GARLAND — Wearing a tiara, Fannie Johnson was the center of attention at the Garland Senior Center.
Surrounded by family and friends, Johnson celebrated a birthday just shy of a century. Community members packed the center on Wednesday to show support for Johnson, on her 99th birthday.
Johnson was raised by Thomas Tank and Mary Parker, who lived to be 104. Johnson grew up in the Parkersburg area of Sampson County. She was educated at Roseboro Colored High School and attended North Carolina Central University, before marrying Waddell Johnson, who passed away in 1975. Together they had nine children. Two passed away before the age of 1.
“She’s a caring and loving mother,” Melvis said. “She loves people.”
Johnson worked until she was 80. She worked on farms and later retired as a caregiver with the Department of Aging.
“Some of the patients where younger than she was,” Melvis said.
In Garland, Johnson enjoyed being in the garden and spending time at the senior center, where she learned to sew. She attends Smith Chapel AME Zion Church and is the oldest active member. Johnson is a deaconess and served as the secretary of the Sunday School for 17 years.
Many people said she’s an inspiration, who’s always willing to lend a hand. Before a meal was served, members sang gospel hymns, led by Connie Lee.
“I’m glad to be here to enjoy the celebration,” Lee said. “As a woman of God, thank you for your example.”
Mayor Winifred Murphy was one many in attendance.
“She’s been a community member and friends to our family for all of her life,” Murphy said. “We’re happy to celebrate with her today.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-592-8137. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.