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Friends and celebrity help Newton resident celebrate 104th birthday
Martha Malcolm greeted with drive-through celebration after phone call from singer
104th birthday1
Martha Malcolm sits and waves to passers-by from the front porch of Merryvale Assisted Living in Oxford as they send greetings from their vehicles on her 104th birthday Sept. 29. - photo by Tom Spigolon

OXFORD, Ga. — Newton County resident Martha Malcolm was only 100 years old in 2016 when she was featured on national TV, dancing with her walker.

Last week when she turned 104, singer Harry Connick Jr. called Malcolm and sang “Happy Birthday” to her — four years after featuring her on his nationally syndicated talk show.

The movie and singing star was among her well-wishers as she celebrated her birthday Tuesday, Sept. 29, at her home in Oxford. 

Connick’s telephone call preceded a drive-through birthday parade on a rainy day for the lifelong Newton County resident at Merryvale Assisted Living on Ga. Hwy. 142 in Oxford. 

She sat under the covered, front dropoff area and sat and waved to those who lined up to greet her in the Merryvale parking lot. 

Malcolm’s daughter, Gail Mobley, stood and received balloons and flowers from those in vehicles who wished her happy birthday. 

She said she requested that people just show up and not bring gifts, in part because her mother does not have room for them.

“She loves people,” Mobley said.

A representative of the Covington Police Department dropped by, while a Newton County Sheriff’s Office deputy used a siren and blue lights to greet her.   

Connick met Malcolm after featuring a video of her as part of a montage of videos of viewers doing a dance featured on his TV show. 

Friends had submitted a video of her doing Connick’s “Back it Up” dance.

Mobley said a celebrity like Connick could have chosen to do anything else but instead chose to call her 104-year-old mother.

“Nice guy," Mobley said. "He spent about 10 minutes talking to her (Sept. 29). He asked if she’d been sick."

Malcolm has lived in Newton County for 75 years. She and her husband, Marion, moved from Morgan County to Newton County in 1945. He was a mechanic for almost half a century, working more than three decades for an auto dealership before he went out on his own, Mobley said.

They lived in a house on what is now Ga. Hwy. 36 for 57 years, she said.

“She lived there when it was a dirt road,” Mobley said.

Malcolm also has been a member of High Point Baptist Church for at least 60 years, her daughter said.

She formerly lived with her other daughter, Margaret, and her husband near Lake Varner until Margaret’s death in 2017. That prompted the family to move the centarian to Merryvale, Mobley said.

“She needed to be around people,” she said.

Longtime friend Debbie Anderson said quarantine and stay-at-home orders because of safety concerns around COVID-19 have “been difficult for all of us, not being able to visit.”

“All her family and friends have missed seeing her in person,” Anderson said. “We stand outside her window that fortunately faces the parking lot, and visit with her that way.”  

Mobley’s husband, Henry, said Malcolm has enjoyed relatively good luck with her health in recent years.

He said she takes almost no medicine currently. She broke her hip after a fall in 2013 but fully recovered. She stands and moves with the help of a walker, Henry said.

“She has a little trouble with her short-term memory,” he said.