By: Sid Riley
"Just live a good life, do what you are supposed to do, stay out of bad places, always treat others like you want to be treated, and trust in the Lord". That is the secret to a long, healthy life according to Mary "Sangy" White as she approaches her 101st birthday in October.
This amazing woman is still smart, spry, sassy and on top of her game. She drove to our interview in her family car, hopped out and stepped smartly across the street to enter the door of our offices. She has just finished sewing twenty-four dresses for a large wedding party to wear at the 25th wedding renewal for her friends Sharon and Bishop John McMillion. She still lives alone, does her own housework and cooking, and at times does necessary home repairs.
Not too long ago she was found on her roof, cleaning out the gutters. On another occasion she went to Lowes, bought some flooring sills, crawled under her house and nailed in the new sills to reinforce some damaged old supports. Amazing?
"Sangy" was born in 1907 in Jackson County, and has lived all of her life near her homestead on Lovewood Road, northwest of Marianna. She was married for sixty years to Sherman White, Jr. who drove school buses for the Jackson County Schools. They had three children, two girls and one boy. "They are all gone now, except youngest girl," she says sadly. She has eleven grandchildren and isn’t sure exactly how many great grandchildren there are.
She says she farmed most of her life. She is a long time member of the Bethlehem AME Church, which she claims is the oldest AME church in the state of Florida.
She recalls when she was a little girl all of the roads in Jackson County were dirt. Farmers plowed with mules, and some farmers even used cattle. She remembers riding to church and to Marianna in a wagon pulled by mules, then a carriage, then a truck, and now finally in cars. "Back when there were no paved roads the commissioners promised that Lovewood Road would be the first road paved in Jackson County. Sadly, today it is still a dirt road. Before I die I would love to just drive once on Lovewood Road with it being paved", she explains.
"They had a big birthday party for me when I turned 100. They thought it was a surprise party, but I really knew about it….so I just pretended not to know so’s they would feel good," she chuckled. On October 3 she will be 101, but thinks they shouldn’t have a party "cause they cost so much". I told her she should celebrate every year from here forward, and she responded "I suppose you’re right."
We all watched her leave as she hopped over the curb, hustled across the street to elude traffic, cranked her car, backed out of the parking space, and cruised away. You might have seen her in Wal-Mart a while later.