COVINGTON, Ga. — Before ringing in the new year, the city of Covington helped Newton County’s Annie Maud Belcher Roby celebrate her 90th birthday Sunday, Dec. 27, with a “COVID-style” birthday parade.
Roby’s granddaughter, Nichelle Banks, coordinated with the city’s police, fire and street departments to put on the event to honor Roby.
“On a visit to see her doctor a few (weeks) ago, she was reminded that she was about to have a milestone birthday and she said to the doctor ‘Yeah, and somebody needs to do something,’” she told The Covington News. “So the family had to put together a ‘COVID style drive by’ birthday celebration. Everybody social distancing, wearing masks at her house on Puckett Street in Covington in the front yard. Colorful balloons in an arch decorating a table for a cake with pictures and flowers, and a big box for gifts and cards could be seen as well wishers passed by blowing horns and waving and some stopped to say hello and leave gifts.”
Roby was born Dec. 27, 1930, to Stoney Belcher and Mary Thomas Belcher; she was one of seven children. A lifelong resident of Newton County, Roby grew up with little education but learned to cook and sew and worked on her family’s farm.
On Dec. 1, 1946, Roby married Charlie D. “CD” Roby on the back porch of the old house at the corner of Dixie Road and Georgia Hwy. 213. They were married for 58 years until he died in August 2005. They had six children: Leotha, Charlie, Dianne, Curtis, Anita and Karen. Curtis died of Pneumonia at age 7 and Anita died at birth.
She has 11 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.
Roby spent time working at Bibb Manufacturing Company and Lithonia Lighting before retiring. Soon after, she began volunteering for the Newton County Head Start Program but was later put on staff because “she was there everyday to make sure they were taking good care of one of her great granddaughters,” according to Banks.
After her husband died, she started going to Turner Lake Senior Services Center and has found joy in quilting and playing bingo, Banks said.
Until 2018, Roby made lye soap and sold it out of a red barn in her backyard.
“Her husband used to tease her and say that selling soap was her ‘hustle,’” Banks said. “For years she had a regular group of clients who loved her soap. It was used for any number of skin irritations and if you used it as soon as you started to itch, it would keep you from having poison ivy. In the olden days, it was used for anything from scrubbing floors to washing clothes.”
Banks said Roby was featured in The Covington News a few years ago as the “Soap Lady.”
Banks and the Roby family were thankful to Kim’s Kustoms for special T-shirts made and also grateful to the city’s departments for their role in the event.