The Honey Bowen Building was filled to the brim with celebration and emotion as Frieda Street celebrated her 100th birthday.
Mrs. Street was born on June 27, 1913, and was one of nine children. After marrying Cecil Street, she and her family moved from Wayne County to Statesboro in 1948, and she took a job at Hines Dry Cleaners and Hodges Department Store doing alterations.
Connie Hook, the youngest of Mrs. Street’s seven children, said she enjoyed growing up with her mother. Mrs. Street brought the best out of everyone, Hook said.
“She was more of a positive example. I don’t think anyone ever dreamed of doing wrong, not out of fear, but they didn’t want to disappoint her,” Hook said.
Mrs. Street did, however, keep all of her seven children in line, Hook said.
“Now, she would get the switch after you if she needed to,” Hook said, laughing.
When not raising her children or working, Mrs. Street spent much of her time in Statesboro developing her faith. She is one of the founders of Merrywood Baptist Church and is now the oldest and longest-surviving member.
“I used to teach Sunday school, watch the young ones, and do anything they asked me to do,” Mrs. Street said.
As years passed, Mrs. Street had many grandchildren. Joseph “Jojo” Grooms attended the birthday party, held June 22, and led the group in prayer before the cutting of the birthday cake.
He fondly remembers how his grandmother always had something for the grandchildren to do growing up.
“We had to share with a lot of grand young ’uns. You can imagine with seven kids, there was a lot of grandchildren,” Grooms said, his voice breaking with emotion. “We always had something to do.”
Over the years, Mrs. Street and her family weathered tough times. Through the loss of family members, Mrs. Street served as rock for the whole family.
“I think that (her faith) is one of the things that have kept our family together. She’s lost a lot of children. Her love for Jesus kept our family together,” Grooms said.
Currently, Mrs. Street lives by herself. When Mrs. Street is not at church, Hook often drops by her house, and they cook and spend time together. Even though she turned 100 on Thursday, Mrs. Street still has almost perfect church attendance.
“If she’s not there, it’s a wonder the doors are open,” Hook said jokingly.
Many of her fellow church members also admire her attendance and look to her as a role model, even though she does not teach Sunday school anymore.
“She is an inspirational role. She will lift you up, make you feel like if she can be there at church, there is no reason we all can’t be there and serve God,” said Cindy Kirkland, a fellow church member since 1992.
Merrywood Baptist Church has created a prayer garden in Mrs. Street’s honor. She credits her faith for helping her make it to this point.
“I look back over my life, what I’ve done, and what I’ve done it with. I don’t know how I’ve done it other than by the grace of God,” she said.