This Labor Day, we are revisiting one of our most popular FACES of Memphis from 2020: Flora Wilson. We hope she brings a smile to your face this holiday!
Flora Louetta Wilson was born on April 28, 1926, and she recently celebrated her 94th birthday. We first learned about Flora when her great-granddaughter, Carlie Carter, shared a post on Instagram featuring her “Fofo” celebrating her 94th birthday social distancing-style. Her post read: “She has made it thru the Great Depression, World War II, 9/11, so she ain’t gonna let a RONA crisis stop her from having some KFC + coconut cake to bring in YEAR NINETY FOUR!!!” That’s quite a few significant events to have survived, and she’s still got a smile on her face, to boot.
We wanted to get to know Flora better, so with Carlie’s help, we interviewed Flora to find out how this birthday differed from others, learn how she celebrated the big day, and find out the secret to her smile all these years and life experiences later. Meet the beautiful and beloved Flora Wilson, our newest FACE of the South!
Where were you born, and where were you raised?
I was born in McNairy County, Tennessee. It was 1926, the 28th day of April. I was raised on a farm with 13 siblings. We were farmers until World War II, and then I moved to Memphis to work in a war plant, where I helped make ammunition until the war was over. Then I met Mr. Corbett Wilson (her husband). He was in the Navy. (FROM CARLIE: “Her husband passed away 24-25 years ago, so she has been a widow since then. Trooper!!!)
Congratulations on your recent birthday celebration! How did you celebrate your 94th birthday?
Due to this “mess,” my granddaughter and great-granddaughter showed up to my house and decorated my porch. We had the same meal that we eat for every celebration: Kentucky Fried Chicken. I had a coconut cake that they made purple on the inside for me.
How was this year’s birthday different from previous birthdays?
This year I got older than last, but I was not able to get close to my family and that was different because of that ol’ virus. We usually always spend my birthday eating KFC on the porch and then going to Neil’s Restaurant in Dyersburg, TN, for dinner. This year, we still ate Kentucky Fried Chicken on the porch, but Carlie and Darla (great-granddaughter and grand-daughter) wore masks and sat away from me. (FROM CARLIE: Neil’s BBQ in Dyersburg brings hot, delicious meals to the elderly every Wednesday. This is a special delivery to her during the pandemic. I thought that was something beautiful that needed to be mentioned — that the community comes together to assist the elderly during this time. She looks forward to the delivery every week. The man who delivers it is so kind and patient.)
How are you staying connected with loved ones during the pandemic?
Talking to them on the phone, snail mail (birthday cards), praying for them, using my Jitterbug.
You have lived through some significant events in your life, including the most recent pandemic. What advice do you have for others for getting through challenging periods in life?
Ask God to keep us safe and sound, and pray for each other.
What do you most look forward to once the pandemic has passed?
Spending time with family minus the mask and being together again.
What is your secret to a long and happy life?
Putting God first. Treat others how you want to be treated. Live day by day. And Dr. Pepper. (FROM CARLIE: That’s ALL she ever wants to drink. She fed it to me in my bottle when I was only weeks old.)
Thank you, Flora, and here’s to many more birthday celebrations. And thank you to Carlie Carter for helping to facilitate this interview.
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