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Cook County mourns passing of oldest citizen, Mrs. Lois Musselwhite, at 109

Cook County's oldest citizen, Mrs. Lois Musselwhite is pictured wearing a blue button up with a tan jacket. She is sitting at a table with a green tablecloth and a birthday cake with lit candles. The rainbow candles read out, "109."

Mrs. Lois Musselwhite

Date of Birth: Feb. 24, 1914

Entered Into Rest: Jan. 20, 2024

The community was saddened to learn about the passing of Mrs. Lois Musselwhite, Cook County’s oldest citizen. She would have turned 110 years old on Feb. 24, 2024.

During funeral services held on Monday afternoon, Jan. 29, 2024, at the Chapel of Boone Funeral Home, the Rev. Doug Stevens, officiating pastor, referred to Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Stevens said Mrs. Musselwhite was “a wonderful, larger-than-life lady. … She might have been short in stature, but she was tall in my eyes.”

He noted the old saying, “Time is not measured by clocks, but by moments.” He said, “Mrs. Lois lived a long time. I don’t know if I will ever again meet anyone who lived as long. I thought she would outlive me.”

He said the year that Mrs. Musselwhite was born, World War I broke out, Charlie Chaplin’s first silent movie was released, and Babe Ruth played his first MLB game as a pitcher. Still, Stevens said, Mrs. Musselwhite most likely didn’t see living so long as that big of a deal. In fact, he said, how she lived was much more important than how long she lived.

During the funeral, Anna Lawhorn recalled how she first met Mrs. Musselwhite, “a brilliant little lady.” Mrs. Lawhorn attended Cook High School in the late 1950s, when Mrs. Musselwhite was librarian and Ira Musselwhite, her husband, was FFA sponsor and Ag Teacher. Mrs. Musselwhite helped Mrs. Lawhorn and other students find research resources for their term papers. Mrs. Lawhorn said Mrs. Musselwhite taught a Ladies’ Sunday school class at the First Baptist Church of Adel for more than 50 years. Mrs. Musselwhite started Sunshine Pals Lunches for widows at the church. Mrs. Musselwhite was a farm girl at heart, and young people would often visit the Musselwhites’ property for peanuts to boil and for other ag products.

In 2022, Mrs. Musselwhite was named an Honorary Civitan with a proclamation signed by Adel Mayor Buddy Duke. In 2023, the Cook County Retired Educators Association held a 109th birthday celebration for Mrs. Musselwhite in the First Baptist Church of Adel’s Social Hall. During one celebration in recent years, Mrs. Musselwhite was tired of having so many birthday cakes and instead asked for birthday banana pudding with candles. 

Mrs. Lawhorn said visitors told Mrs. Musselwhite that God let her live so long because He needed her to set an example to others of how to live.

During the funeral, Debbie Bradford, another friend, said Mrs. Musselwhite was the oldest retired educator in Georgia.

On Aug. 31, 2019, Ms. Musselwhite received the Cook County Centennial Queen title at age 105. At the time, she was in fact five years older than the County.

During the service, Mrs. Musselwhite’s son, Ronald, spoke about how she served as a Pink Lady for 20 years at Adel Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home. She would write letters to family members on behalf of the patients or residents; they would dictate to her because they were not physically able to write.

During her later years while living at the Rachel House in Sparks, she would continue to crotchet and knit. She participated in a program called Knit for Kids. “Children around the world were warmed by her caps and sweaters and the love she shared,” Ronald said. 

During the eulogy, Rev. Stevens used the worn Bible that Mrs. Musselwhite had for possibly 75 years. Mrs. Musselwhite had highlighted verses and made notes of her own next to the verses that pertained to her own life. He said the eulogy would basically be mostly Mrs. Musselwhite’s last Bible study class with the title, “Living the Great Commandment.” She emphasized love the Lord and love your neighbor; and help your neighbors when they are sick or needy, like folks used to do more often years ago: “We must live our beliefs. If we do not love our fellow man, we do not truly love Jesus.” The verses also urge Christians to not be afraid and have faith. 

Rev. Stevens said Mrs. Musselwhite was urging a Christian to be a “Great Commandment follower. … Our goal is to surrender totally to Jesus and imitate His love” by sacrifice for others.

Rev. Stevens concluded by saying Mrs. Musselwhite “left behind a special legacy that reached beyond any fortune she could have obtained on earth.” He noted that when he got the call that Mrs. Musselwhite had passed, he was both sad and happy for her. “She wanted to be with Jesus,” he said.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Please see the complete obituary for Mrs. Musselwhite on this week’s Church Page.     

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