STONECREST, GA—Elizabeth Smith was welcomed by a room filled with family and friends who cheered as escorts rolled her in a wheelchair to the head table for her birthday celebration at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, where she is a member.
Wearing a tiara and a gold “100 and Fabulous” sash with her silver and white outfit, Mother Smith smiled at the crowd. She had come on Saturday, Dec. 9, in the rain weather to be showered with gifts and love—four days ahead of her 100th birthday: Dec. 13.
New Birth, on behalf of Pastor Jamal Bryant, hosted the celebration. Elder Lynette Dandridge helped to organize the event and served as mistress of ceremonies for the dinner program.
People throughout the room remarked how beautiful and young Mother Smith looked as she entered the room.
According to her biography, Mother Smith was the youngest of 12 children in her family. Today, she is the only living survivor among her siblings.
“I was the last one out, and now I am the last to go home to be with the Lord,” Mother Smith said.
Born in 1923 in South Carolina, Mother Smith grew up in the segregated Jim Crow and Ku Klux Klan era, a harsh time for blacks. Her mother and father were sharecroppers. Her grandmother was an ex-slave who was blind, and it was Elizabeth’s job as a little girl to guide her around by holding on to her long hair.
After high school, she left the South and moved to New York City in the late 1940s to pursue employment opportunities. She met her future husband, a longshoreman, a few years later. They married and she later gave birth to a child.
After her husband passed away, she began to take night classes in computer programming. and after completing her course, she was hired as a key punch programmer with JC Penney department store, where she worked until her retirement in the 1980s. She became active in her church, Ebenezer AME in New York, organizing and managing church-sponsored events, bus trips and outings, spiritual plays, and walking the communities spreading the word of God with her curbside ministry. She also focused her energies on planning family reunions and events.
Mother Smith’s crowning achievement was when she signed up to be a foster grandparent for children with AIDS at Metropolitan Hospital in New York. In this position, she comforted families, young children, and babies suffering from this dreaded disease. She was instrumental in designing an AIDS quilt, which was displayed at the hospital. A local television station covered the unveiling of the quilt and interviewed her for a news story. The hospital honored her with a luncheon.
Looking back over life, Mother Smith said one of her proudest memories was watching the first Black President, Barack Obama, being sworn in to office. The event brought tears and joy to her because this was an event that she said never thought would occur.
Mother Smith lives with her daughter in Lithonia. She said her love and admiration for Pastor Jamal Bryant ignites her passion for prayer and meditation. To relax, she spends her time reading, knitting, watching the news on CNN and when the opportunity arises, she enjoys playing her favorite card game–Spades.
100th Birthday Celebration Mother Elizabeth Smith@ New Birth