‘Miss Mary’ celebrates 100th birthday
Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2012 11:47 am
Edna Mary Stewart Clemons Peague Burke was joined by family and friends, including her granddaughter Zella Mae Richardson during a 100th birthday celebration Sunday at Miles Chapel Church in Martin.
A Martin woman’s life was celebrated Sunday as family and friends gathered at Miles Chapel Church to celebrate 100 years of her life.
Edna Mary Stewart was born Jan. 6, 1912, in Tiptonville, Lake County. She is the eldest of six children – four girls and two boys.
She was raised in Martin after moving there at an early age. She attended school in Martin.
She married three times and had one daughter – the late Mary Ruth Clemons. All three husbands have preceded her in death.
She has one granddaughter – Zella Mae Richardson of Martin, who she lives with. She also has one sister, Virginia Davis, and one brother, James Stewart of Birmingham, Ala.
Two sisters – the late Wille Mae Shanklin and Delores Bostick; and one brother – the late Columbus Stewart Jr. have all preceded her in death. She has several nieces and nephews who live in other cities and states.
She has been a life-long member of Miles Chapel CME Church, where she served on many committees, as usher, choir member and president of the choir. She was willing to do whatever she could to help her church. She loves her church.
Mary worked as a domestic worker most of her adult life. She worked for the Murphy family of Martin many years as a housekeeper, nanny and cook. She later went to work for the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity at the University of Tennessee at Martin where she retired and served as a cook for 20 years. She said she loved those fraternity boys and they took great care and looked after her. She called them “her boys.”
Even after retirement, many of the fraternity members still visit with her and bring their families, especially around UTM’s homecoming each year.
Mary loves jokes and pranks and she said “those boys couldn’t out do me.”
If they played a joke or prank on her, she got them back. They didn’t rattle or upset her. She had a way of getting her message across to them.
She told a story one time about one of the boys parking her parking place. The staff had designated parking places with their names on them. This guy parked in her place one night.
When she came to work the next morning she parked close behind him so he could not get out. He had to go to class and came in the kitchen and asked for her keys to move her car, but she would not give them to him.
She asked him, “Is your name Mary?” He said, “no.” She said, “Then why did you park there?”
He said, “I could not find a place to park and I’ve got to go or I am going to be late for class.”
She replied, “That’s not my problem, walk!” He had to get a ride to class. She said he never parked in her parking place again and warned others.
She would also pretend she as mad at them to get them to do extra chores, when they had not done their assigned kitchen chores. She would laugh about it when they were not around. After they had completed the extra chores, she would tell them they were friends again. They did not want Mary mad at them.
Mary was a great cook, according to family and friends. She is known to not use recipes. She does her own thing. She would say, “I just use what I have.”
She was in her 60s before she learned to drive and she loved it. She didn’t stop driving until her late 80s.
She loves cats and dogs and had pets until she could no longer take care of them. Friends said she is still sassy and quick-witted at the ripe age of 100.
She still has great memory and can tell wonderful stories about things that happened in her life. She has never taken it kindly of others bossing her around and she will tell you so even today.