While most families gathered June 21 to celebrate Father’s Day, Sadie Sims’ family gathered to celebrate her 100th birthday.
Sims, who lives in Decatur, was celebrated by her seven remaining children, 23 grandchildren, 43 great-grandchildren, five great-great grandchildren and others whose lives she has influenced throughout her 100 years.
“It feels good,” Sims said of turning 100.
Sims and her family said she is blessed to reach 100 after dealing with a couple of health scares in her 80s and 90s. She has survived two heart attacks and two strokes. She had a pacemaker put in when she was 94.
“After I got that pacemaker I wasn’t sick anymore,” she said. “Other people [have] died and gone on, and I’m still [taking care of] babies.”
“Everybody has gone on, and she’s hanging on in here,” Sims’ daughter Doris Johnson said.
Sims was born June 21, 1915 in Walnut Grove, Ga. Her mother died when she was young, and she went to live with her mother’s family. Sims was an only child, but her mother had 13 siblings. When her grandparents took her in, her aunts and uncles became her siblings.
Sims said her aunts and uncles loved her like a sister because of her grandparents’ love for her.
“They loved me because my granddaddy was crazy about me. I was his favorite,” Sims said. “Anything he was doing, and my grandmother too, I was right there helping them. The rest of the children wanted to play or go somewhere.”
Sims’ family lived on a 100-plus-acre farm. She loved to cook alongside her grandmother and milk cows with her grandfather.
“I was the tomboy,” she added. “I was always on the farm.”
Sims has fond memories of spending time with her grandfather on the farm.
“He was a good farmer,” she said. “We didn’t want for nothing.”
“Everything her grandfather taught her she did the same,” Johnson said. “Her grandfather would give you anything and feed everybody, and that’s exactly what she did. That’s why so many people know her and love her.”
Sims went to school up until the eighth grade. One could say she was home schooled after the eighth because one of her aunts would bring home her schoolbooks and teach Sims what they learned that day.
“My grandmother had an education too,” she said. “She worked for a senator, and she got to go to school. My grandmother would teach us too. She taught us how to read all the big words.”
Although Sims does not have a high school diploma, Johnson said her mother is just as smart as anyone is.
“She and my daddy stressed [that] we had to get an education; they knew the value of an education,” Johnson said. “But, she read all of our school books. She’s a smart cookie.”
Sims lived on her family’s farm until she married her first husband, Robert Lowe, in her late teens.
They moved to Decatur and she had one son with Lowe. They were married for two years before Lowe died. She later married Jessie Sims and had seven children with him, including Johnson. She also raised a nephew, who she considered a son.
One of her sons passed away nearly 15 years ago and she has lost a grandson.
Sims was a stay at-home mom, but when her children got older, she worked for City Schools of Decatur as a cafeteria worker. She retired in the early 1960s, and since then has been a doting grandmother, great grandmother and great-great grandmother. She even cared for children who were not biologically hers.
“I kept everybody’s children,” Sims said.
Like any 90-plus-year-old person, Sims has seen a number of historic moments in her lifetime and has experienced many events. However, there are two events that she will never forget. One of those events was a trip to Jerusalem in 1995 with church members from Greenforest Community Baptist Church. One of the highlights of her trip included a camel ride.
“I rode that camel,” she said. “The rest of the women were scared of the camel but I wasn’t scared.”
She was also baptized in the Jordan River by the church’s pastor at the time the late, Rev. Dr. George McCalep Jr.
Sims also remembers the times she voted for President Barack Obama, the first Black president.
“I never thought I would see a Black president in my life,” she said.
“She cried when he was elected,” Johnson said. “She has a shrine of him–T-shirts, tags, everything.”
Sims has birthday letters from Obama from the last three years. This year, she will receive a proclamation from him for her 100th birthday.
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