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Rae Lanier: Still sassy at 90
WLead Rae Lanier toned
Rae Lanier washes a client's hair Thursday at Sassy Hair beauty salon. Lanier has been washing hair since she opened Rae's Beauty Shop in Brooklet in 1946. She turns 90 on Saturday and her friends and co-workers at Sassy Hair began celebrating her birthday Wednesday with a party at the shop. - photo by JAMES HEALY/staff
      Rae Lanier has worked with Melanie Spence for 43 years and Janice Davis for 39. When, she saw them whispering a lot last week in the Sassy Hair beauty salon, where she has worked with them for the past 13 years, she knew something was up.
       "I saw them talking with each other and they're like my daughters more than co-workers," Lanier said. "But they sure surprised me."
       Spence and Davis surprised Lanier with a very public celebration of her 90th birthday. Beginning with an ad in the Statesboro Herald on Wednesday and parties Wednesday, Thursday and today at the shop, Spence and Davis wanted to make sure the community shared in Lanier's big day.
       "She's such a special lady with such a warm heart, she deserves all of us making a big fuss over her," Spence said.
Lanier turns 90 on Saturday and Davis and Spence said they started planning for the event about a year ago.
       "We thought we could keep our plans a secret and we did," Davis said. "She's a remarkable woman so full of life."
While Lanier said she is humbled by so much attention, she appreciates it, too.
       "It's so exciting to have so many people come in and wish me a happy birthday," Lanier said. "It's wonderful. I'm so blessed."
       The celebration continues at Sassy Hair on South Main Street next to Sea Island Bank. Davis said everyone is invited to come by the shop between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to wish Lanier a happy 90th.
       Lanier was born Rae Minick on March 7, 1919 in South Carolina. Her family moved to Brooklet when she was 19 months old and she has never left. Lanier said she went to beauty school in 1945 and opened Rae's Beauty Shop in Brooklet in 1946. "Things have changed a lot since then," Lanier said. "A shampoo and set cost 75 cents and perms were two for $5 in 1946."
       She started working with Spence in 1965 at the Fountain of Youth salon in downtown Statesboro and Davis about four years later. Davis opened Sassy Lady in 1980 and changed the name to Sassy Hair. They moved to their current location on South Main about 13 years ago.
       Lanier has cut her schedule a little bit. She comes to the shop three days a week to wash hair for clients and help around the salon.
       "You know I once had somebody tell me she couldn't do anything with her hair because I cleaned it too well," Lanier said. "Can you imagine that? No one has ever told me that before or since."
       Thursday, Lanier's younger brother Jake Minick and her daughters Carlyle Buelvas and Madge Edwards joined her for the celebration at Sassy Hair. There was cake, punch and other sweets along with a "Happy Birthday" banner and even a "money tree" with 90 $1 bills to mark the occasion.
       "Our mother has set a wonderful Christian example of how to live a life right," Edwards said.
       "She's always been so kind and generous with her time for not only her family but everyone she knows," Buelvas said.
       Lanier's husband Jimmy died three years ago and she has a son Jim. She also has eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
       Kathryn Olliff was at the shop Thursday having her hair set. She said Lanier has done her hair for 40 years.
       "What a lot of people don't know about Rae is that so many times after work she would go home and cook meals for homebound people," Olliff said. "Or she just might have an extra casserole. You never went hungry with Rae around."
       Lanier has no plans to retire from Sassy Hair.
       "I still enjoy it so much," Lanier said. "I love socializing with Janice and Melanie and all my friends who come in.
       "You hear so many funny things. A lady once called the shop and told me she wanted to cancel her appointment for yesterday. I told her I would take care of it. Now where else can I hear something like that?"

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