Grand lady of great significance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Editor's note: This item appeared in The Advocate 13 years ago, and old timers will recall the activities of this lady fondly. Youngsters who did not know of her qualities may learn the meaning of endurance and courage under sometimes dire conditions. Miss Cecelia expired circa 1993 at age 94.

There are some remarkable people in this old world.

Last weekend we discovered one of our own number, right here in Greenville, who makes the word "remarkable" fade into insignificance.

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We would allow as how, without a trace of fear of contradiction, that the lady we refer to here exceeds that adjective and in reality qualifies for the appellation "extraordinary person."

She is a 91-year-old grandmother of 14, whose activities of the past weekend could be termed miraculous.

She is Mrs. Jim (Cecilia Milligan) McGowin, Sr., and she resides at 812 Fort Dale Road.

Here's what she did.

As was her wont, last Saturday Miss Cecelia retired at the usual hour of about 9 p.m. after carefully checking to see that all appliances and lights were properly turned to the "off" position.

At about 2:25 a.m., our top-flight fire department received an alarm that indicated that Miss Cecelia's house was burning.

The fire had started in the kitchen and the smoke from it crept along the hallway and under her bedroom door.

The scent from the smoke wakened Miss Cecelia and she promptly opened the bedroom door, only to be greeted by great bellows of smoke, forcing her retreat.

She immediately phoned her son, Sumpter, and told him her house was on fire.

He, in turn, called in the alarm and dashed up the road to see about his mother.

On arrival, he didn't see Miss Cecelia immediately and proceeded to kick in the back door of her house in an attempt to rescue her.

To make a long story short, we'll tell you that the grand lady already had escaped out of her bedroom window, and was shielding herself from the flames behind a tree in her yard.

Picture, if you can, a 91-year-old person's (male or female) flight to safety as performed at 812 Fort Dale Road last Sunday a.m.

That's a difficult assignment, n'est cez pas?

Anyhow, the damage to the residence was extensive, and as self-reliant as Miss Cecelia is, she spent only a few hours that morning with her daughter, Mrs. W.J. (Tere) Williamson, Sr., and since has spent each night in her own bed at home.

She will take meals at her children's homes until repairs to her house are effected. Then she'll return to full-time residency at 812 and continue to live as independently as ever.

Self-sufficient and unique describe Miss Cecelia's makeup. She can be seen almost daily raking her yard, carrying out the trash and watering her shrubbery, etc.

She put the lie to the belief that some folks hold that "old" is inutile.

Miss Cecelia is far from that stage in life.

She is a model that it would behoove many of those of lesser years to pattern themselves after.

Buster MacGuire is copy editor and columnist for the Greenville Advocate.

He may be reached by calling 334.382.3111.