One by one, worshippers from South Main Church of Christ lined up their vehicles in the church parking lot Thursday to celebrate the 100th birthday of Lizzie Mae Baugh.
With balloons and poster-sized birthday cards adorning their vehicles, the cars were filled with church goers, both young and old, who wanted to let Lizzie Mae know that even though they could not get too close to her, they still loved her and were thinking about her on her special day.
Leading the parade procession was Greenville Firefighter Cadarrius Adams driving his Rescue 7 big red fire truck and firefighter Jordan Lee driving his smaller Squad 3 fire truck.
“This is so wonderful,” said Lizzie Mae, standing in her yard on North David Circle, waving to her friends in the parade. “I am shocked by this. I had no idea they were going to do this, but it is so wonderful.”
After the parade was over, it was hard to tell who was more joyful. Lizzie Mae, her fellow church members, or the birthday girl’s neighbors, who, understanding quickly what was happening, waved at the parade participants as they wiped tears from their eyes.
“This made me so happy,” said Tina Hallman, a longtime friend of Lizzie Mae and fellow Church of Christ member. “She is one of the finest Christian ladies that I have ever known. It made me sad that I had not seen her in a while. I think this says that we care about the elderly, and we also care about our fellow church members.”
Church of Christ worshipper Debbie Hester came up with the idea for Lizzie Mae’s birthday parade.
“Lizzie Mae is family,” Hester said. “Even though we don’t get to hug her like we would want to, this is the next best thing. It was so important for us to do this because how many people do you know that reach 100 years old? Even though we are living in these times, I knew that we had to do something.”
Fellow church goer Robert Wicker, his wife, Kari, and their 17-year-old son, Matthew, each drove a vehicle in the parade. Balloons of many colors were tied to all three of the Wicker’s vehicles.
“There was no way I was going to miss this,” Robert Wicker said. “I missed her 90th birthday, and when I did, she let me know about it. If I missed this one, I knew she was going to remember and let me know again.”
Lizzie Mae is the mother of eight children, 16 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren. Her daughter, Marie Clark, who helps take care of Lizzie at her Greenville home, was by her side as the parade vehicles passed by.
Lizzie Mae, Clark said, was an extremely active member of the church before she hurt her back around Valentine’s Day this year. She said both her and her mother are thankful for how the church members still check up with her during these times. Her mother said the current coronavirus pandemic is like nothing she has seen in her lifetime.
“She said the biggest thing is that it is affecting all of us close to home,” Clark said. “She has seen lots of stuff like this happen to other countries but never to our own community.”
Clark said her mother believes a hard work ethic has helped her stay alive all these years.
“She says that if hard work would kill you, she would have been dead a long time ago,” Clark said.
As a young adult, Lizzie Mae picked cotton as a sharecropper for a number of years. She then worked at the Ludlow Carpet Factory before spending 21 more years working at the Jockey factory in Belzoni.
“She is an amazing woman, and she amazes all of us,” Clark said. “Even today, her mind is still sharp and her memory is clear.”