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Posted: October 12, 2011 8:00 a.m.

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A virtuous woman

Oxford native celebrates 100th birthday with family and friends

You’ve probably heard that when you turn 100, you get a birthday card from the president. Bet you didn’t think that was true, did you?

Newton County resident, Ossie Mae Perryman didn’t just receive well wishes from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, she had well wishes pouring in from all over the state as well. The Newton County Board of Commissioners even declared Perryman’s birthday, Oct. 2, 2011 "Ossie Mae Perryman Day."

Her friends and family gathered to celebrate her 100th birthday on Oct. 9 at Under the Stars Banquet Hall in Oxford. Mother Perryman, as she is known by friends and family, sat with a serene smile on her face while a beautiful tribute to her life unfolded for three hours. The crowd of more 100 family and friends learned more about their favorite centenarian and celebrated what they all agreed was the loving life of a strong, respectable woman.

The second oldest child of Henry and Clara Perryman, Mother Perryman was born in the Buckhead Community of Morgan County in 1911. She was married to the late Simon Perryman Sr. for 50 years and they had five children. Mother Perryman currently resides in Oxford with her son, Simon Perryman Jr., and his family. She has two grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Simon Perryman Jr. says his mother is excited by all of the fanfare surrounding this momentous milestone. He was by her side for most of the evening, only leaving to greet guests with a warm handshake and a welcoming smile.

Mother Perryman attributes her longevity to her love of God and daily prayer. She enjoys quilting, canning, making butter and says her favorite food is coffee and bacon. She served on the mother board of Mt. Zion Baptist Church and now serves on the board of the Barrow Grove Baptist Church.

A treasured story teller, Mother Perryman likes to share how, as a child, she found it difficult to keep up with her grandmother as they walked to the store. She says her grandmother was just a very fast walker.

"By the time we caught up with her at the store, we were so out of breath, we couldn’t tell her what we wanted."

Fred Perryman, a nephew and pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Lincolnton, gave a touching tribute at the birthday celebration when he read Mother Perryman’s favorite scripture, Psalm 23, ending by saying, "… dwells in the house of the Lord… and still she dwells" to much acclaim from the gathering.

In addition to birthday greetings from the Newton County Board of Commissioners and the White House, resolutions were made by both the state house and senate and a proclamation was made by the mayor of the City of Madison in Mother Perryman’s honor. Letters containing well wishes were received from Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, Judge Michael Bracewell of the Morgan County Probate Court, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners, Chief Judge of the Superior Courts of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit William A Prior, Jr., and Mayor Jerry Roseberry of Oxford.

Gail Reid, mistress of ceremonies and a close friend of the family, spoke highly of Mother Perryman throughout the evening, at one point remarking that she spent many nights in Mother Perryman’s home and at her dinner table. "Mother Perryman and Deacon [Simon Sr.] Perryman established a wonderful family."

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