The Grambling State University Social Research Club took a trip to Mississippi recently in order to honor a longtime participant in its Longevity Project.Members of the Grambling group were on hand when the family of the late Betty Wilson held a memorial ceremony in memory of the super-centenarian, who was 115 when she died.
The ceremony in New Albany, Miss., on Sept. 13 also marked what would have been Wilson’s 118th birthday. She was born in 1860 and died in 2005.
The celebration was marked by laughter, joy and greetings from the master of ceremonies, Wilson’s 72-year-old grandson Billy Rogers.
There was a special tribute in song by the Wilson sisters, which was followed by some Southern soul food.
The Social Research Club made a presentation based on their interviews with Wilson before her death in 2005. The ceremony came to a close with songs and prayers and everyone departed with a light heart and a smiling face.
The following morning the Social Research Club team went to a senior citizens home for an interview with James Rogers, Wilson’s son and Rogers’ father.
Rogers accompanied the team to see his father and approximately an hour was spent conducting an interview and having a discussion with him.
At the beginning of the interview the senior Rogers stated that he was “98 years young.” When asked what was the most valuable lesson he received from his mother, Rogers replied, “To stay with the Lord and to always pray.”
He said his mother first taught him to pray when he was 7 years old.
Some of the many quotes by the elder Rogers were: “Stand up and be somebody,” “stand for nothing fall for anything,” “don’t kill yourself with a spoon,” “save your money, men are pretty sorry,” and “your word is your bond.”
Rogers recalled that Herbert Hoover was the president at the time he married his wife in 1929.
He noted the historic nature of the upcoming presidential election, and he advised that everyone who was able to vote in this election do so.
What does he recommend that other people do in order to live a long life such as he and his mother enjoyed?
The next stop for the team was Rust College in Holly Spring, Miss.
The travelling team consisted of nine individuals: Dr. Frances Staten, organizer and director of the Research Club; Inetha Wimberly; the Rev. James Smith, a student who is a minister, along with wife Evelyn Smith; and student assistants Alice Leonce, Dominique Casper, Elizabeth Forbin, Tanesha Wade, and Torronyka Jones.