On Monday, March 13, 2023, the Cook County Retired Educators Association held a 109th birthday celebration for Mrs. Lois Musselwhite, Cook County’s oldest citizen and the oldest retired educator in Georgia.
The event was held in the First Baptist Church of Adel’s Social Hall. The gathering presented a birthday cake to Mrs. Musselwhite, who blew out the candles, and luncheon in her honor.
In introducing Mrs. Musselwhite, Cook Retired Educators President Shelva Keeley quoted from Psalms 91:1 and 91:6 (KJV): “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” and “With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”
Mrs. Musselwhite’s long life does serve as a testimony to others. She was born on Feb. 24, 1914. Mrs. Musselwhite was married to Mr. Ira Musselwhite, who taught Agriculture and who was the FFA sponsor at Cook High School. They had one son, Ronald, who lives in Virginia. Mrs. Musselwhite expressed how proud she is of Ronald, an accomplished writer and editor.
Mrs. Musselwhite graduated from Georgia State College in Milledgeville and began teaching in Omega from 1936 to 1938. She then was employed in Willacoochee from 1938 to 1942; Porterdale, Newton County, from 1942 to 1944; and Cook High School in Adel, from 1958 to 1974. She was the librarian at Cook High School until she retired in 1974 (49 years ago).
Mrs. Musselwhite said she made $75 a month in 1936 as a teacher and was able to save some each month.
Mrs. Musselwhite taught a Women’s Bible Study class for 50 years. She was secretary at the Adel First Baptist Church from 1954 to 1958. Mrs. Musselwhite was a member of Pilot Club International and the American Legion Auxiliary. She is a Member Emeritus of the Cook Retired Educators.
If you visited Adel Memorial Hospital or Nursing Home, you probably saw Mrs. Musselwhite in the hallways working as a Pink Lady. She was a Pink Lady for 20 years.
On Aug. 31, 2019, Ms. Musselwhite received the Centennial Queen title at age 105.
Mrs. Musselwhite has resided at The Rachel House in Sparks for about 20 years. She is having some issues with her eyesight and hearing, but she often laughs and remains cheerful when friends visit. She tells visitors stories about the old days in the Peach State.
During Monday’s birthday celebration, community members shared stories about their experiences with Mr. and Mrs. Musselwhite.
Brenda Moore, who graduated from Cook High in 1968, recalled that while Mrs. Musselwhite was in charge of the CHS library, “you didn’t go in there to chat.” Ellis Futch, who will turn 85 soon, was taught by Mr. Musselwhite at the high school. Mr. Futch recalled that in 1953, Mr. Musselwhite etched his students’ initials on canes that they used for guiding pigs in the hog show. Mr. Futch showed the group the cane that he has kept all those years. “I now use it for walking instead of showing pigs,” he said. Mr. Futch went on to teach school through Valdosta Tech at Cook High years ago, and one of his students was Mrs. Keeley.
Dr. Mary Sue Ward said Mrs. Musselwhite decided it was time and drove herself to the assisted living facility when she turned 85. Mrs. Musselwhite later decided she needed a new car, and when her son called her concerned about it, she only would tell him, “It’s a blue car.”
Frances Folsom said Mrs. Musselwhite was the Cook High librarian when she (Mrs. Folsom) graduated in 1953. Mrs. Folsom said Mrs. Musselwhite kept pencils and a pen in a glass: “I asked her why she decorated the pen. She replied, ‘So you wouldn’t walk out with it.’ ”
Jan Godwin, who worked as a library assistant with Mrs. Musselwhite in the 1960s, said, “I remember how kind she was to each of us.”
The speakers shared memories about picking grapes at Mrs. Musselwhite’s house, and her taking long walks in Sparks every morning and afternoon while she still could.
Mrs. Musselwhite spoke about years back when she wanted to teach Sunday School each week – “I was peculiar” – and when she started luncheons for retired educators and widows.
Asked about her early years, she remarked, “I was just a poor little girl, but I had plenty of playmates.”
Asked if she had any advice for the younger generations, she replied, “I have bushels of it. However, what suits you doesn’t necessarily suit me.”
Howard McClain presented certificates to Mrs. Musselwhite for being the oldest member of First Baptist Church of Adel and for being the longest serving member of First Baptist Church.
Mrs. Musselwhite thanked everyone for their visits, cards, well wishes, and prayers, as well as those who organized the birthday party and attended it.