Friends of Frank Key Sr. were not going to let his 107th birthday go without a party. With a huge smile on his face, Key sat in a chair in front of the Pinnacle of Greenville assisted living center Monday afternoon and waved at his friends as they drove by in their cars for the birthday parade. Standing next to Key, Ann Hollowell, the director of sales and marketing for the facility, held up a big ‘Happy Birthday’ sign and also waved as each friend stopped.
“Hello,” Key said to one friendly motorist. “It is good to see you.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Key and his fellow residents at the facility have been unable to meet their friends and family face to face since the health crisis began in March. But, because Key is so admired by his fellow residents and the staff members at Pinnacle, they wanted to make sure his incredible milestone was celebrated.
“I am so thankful to be able to have lived for so long,” Key said during a telephone interview last week. “I do not really have a secret, but I have just kept hanging in there and kept putting God first.”
Key said he spends a good portion of his day keeping up with world events by watching the news on television. Key is one of few people still living in America who is going through their second pandemic; however, Key was only five years old when the Spanish Flu outbreak occurred in 1918 and he said he does not remember it much.
As for the current coronavirus, Key, who had a career as a successful linoleum store owner, said it was “bad for business.”
Key was born June 15, 1913 in Uniontown, Ala. to the late Jim and Ida Key. He enlisted in the United States Navy in October of 1942, serving a four year term.
In 1963, Key moved to New York City where he opened up his linoleum store and owned the store until 1983.
Key was married to his wife Ruth for more than 70 years, and moved back to Mississippi to retire in 1983. He is the father of Frank Key Jr., and the grandfather of nine.
During Key’s lifetime, he has served his God, his country, his family and his fellow man. For many years, he actively served as a deacon at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church.
While not able to do all the things he once did as a young man, Key said he still finds joy in the simple pleasures of life. Many days, for example, he always looks forward to his favorite snack, a moon pie. One of his weekly highlights is a fried chicken dinner served at Pinnacle that he calls delicious.
Key said he thanks God for each day he has on this Earth.
Asked if he was hoping to reach his 110th birthday, Key replied, “No, but I will take it if God gives it to me.”