Lonnie Fears celebrated his 80th birthday on the same day as the nation celebrated its 239th birthday – on July 4, 2015.
The Rockdale County native grew up in north Rockdale, near Double Springs Baptist Church. He was among 14 siblings, six of whom are still remaining. His grandfather owned property now covered by the Big Haynes/Randy Poynter Reservoir.
Fears attended school at Double Springs Baptist, which was within walking distance, as a boy. When school busses became available to pick up children in the farther reaches of the county, he began attending the JP Carr School while it was still called the Bryant Street School.
He worked for the Big Apple grocery store and began working at Rich’s Department Store in 1963. Fears retired from the store, which was bought by Macy’s, in 2007. Fears still works part time for the Levett Funeral Home.
Fears has served in many community service capacities, including Chairman of Deacons at Double Springs Baptist, and former president of the Citizens Progressive Club. Fears was recognized as a winner of the Spirit of Conyers award from the city and with the Jean Williams Award from the Rockdale County chapter of the NAACP.
He married his wife Martha in 1970 and has three sons, Cedric, Myron and Eric.
Every year, since he’s been married, he and his family and friends celebrate his birthday with a cookout.
“Either we go out of town or go to the park, but mostly it’s at my house,” said the spry 80-year-old. “And I do the barbecuing – ribs, chicken, hamburgers, sausage, green peppers, yellow peppers, corn.”