By Tonya Jackson
Ms. Cecelia “Apple” Cassidy has lived through world wars, women getting the right to vote, changing fashions, Jim Crow, blacks getting the right to vote, the election of the first African-American president and many other historical events. On Saturday, January 9th she celebrated something that places her in an elite club, her 100th birthday.
Born on January 9, 1916, Ms. Cassidy moved to Pensacola at the age of three. She attended local schools and graduated from Booker T. Washington. She is the longest living member of Greater Union Baptist Church, where she has been a member since 1928. Before the challenges of advanced age, she was a faithful member of the Missionary Society, the Outreach Committee, the Mother Board, and many other organizations at Greater Union.
In her earlier years, Ms. Cassidy’s good works extended beyond her church. A few of the social organizations she held membership in included the National Council of Negro Women, Church Women United, and the NAACP. Additionally, she loved to read and encouraged those around her by saying, “read everything that you can”.
At her celebration, many family members and friends were in attendance. This mother of four, James Cassidy, Elaine Henderson, Doris Miller, and Patricia Gregory; grandmother of 16; and great-great-grandmother of many, spent the afternoon with her family dining and fellowshipping.
Her son James noted, “She is a great mother. She always stood behind me. When I was growing up, she was there to support us. She paid more attention to our grades than sports. She gave us the tools we needed to become adults.”
Patricia describes her mom as, “hardworking and God fearing. She worked hard to take care of her children. She worked hard and always went to church.”
According to Donna Henderson, “My grandmother’s favorite saying is, ‘baby, it pays to serve the Lord.’ This has stuck with me for 47 years. She still says it today. I just love to hear her say that. She just says it with such meaning.”
Marquette Oliver said, “Every time I see her she says, ‘that’s my baby and I love you.’ That means so much to me to hear that every time I see her. No matter what she was going through, she always has a smile on her face.”
Additionally, great-great-granddaughter Chante Henderson commented, “My grandmother shared lots of wisdom and knowledge. She passed down our family history to us. We don’t have to wonder where we come from.”
How do you sum up a life of 100 years? In the case of Ms. Cecelia “Apple” Cassidy it’s easy…love. As in her love of family. Her love of people. Her love of the Lord.
Happy birthday, Ms. Cassidy.