Family, friends and staff surrounded Mrs. Thelva Sharpe as she celebrated her 103rd birthday Thursday in the Rose Café at Gentilly Gardens.
The lobby and café were decorated in white and pink ribbons, balloons and “Happy Birthday!” banners to honor Sharpe’s feat.
Chaka White, the executive director of Gentilly Gardens, was curious about how Sharpe has been able to live so long.
“I asked Mrs. Sharpe about six months ago how did it feel to be 102 and what got her here, and she said because she minds her business,” White said. “And that was it!”
Sharpe’s son, Andy Sharpe, and daughter-in-law along with her two granddaughters and three great-grandchildren gathered around for cake and ice cream to celebrate this special moment with their beloved “Me-Ma.”
Granddaughter Elizabeth Sharpe said her Me-Ma was able to live this long thanks to her “independent attitude, her strong faith” and “determination above all.”
Both of her grandchildren remember Me-Ma as being “well-rounded” with all types of arts and crafts.
“Me-Ma, as we call her, is very strong-willed, very independent, very strong in her faith and very knowledgeable about everything,” Elizabeth Sharpe said. “She’s so handy and crafty. She could do, and did, everything. She cooked, baked, gardened, sewed and painted. She was an artist … did everything I wish I could do.”
The granddaughters remember being able to ride their bikes down the street to their grandparents’ house, according to granddaughter Andrea Deal.
“She never told me ‘no,’ ” Deal said, remembering her visits to her grandparents’ house. “She always gave us what we wanted.”
Born in Emanuel County, Sharpe came to Statesboro in 1959 when her husband, James Sharpe, became the principal of Statesboro High School, according to Andy Sharpe.
Thelva Sharpe was also an educator and taught third and fourth grades at Dexter Elementary in Laurens County for about 10 years, Andy Sharpe said.
One of her favorite subjects about which to talk to anyone who will listen are her younger years, especially the 1930s and 1940s, White said.
Thelva Sharpe has been a resident of Gentilly Gardens since 2002 and is a beloved resident to all individuals in the community.
The family has been a form of support for not just Sharpe but also the Gentilly Gardens community.
“They always ask what they can do to make us, you know, happier,” White said. “They’re always wondering how we’re doing. Instead of asking for help for themselves, they always want to know what they can do to make our day better.”