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McDonough resident turns 100


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  Henry County’s newest 100-year-old resident celebrated his life with family and friends last week in McDonough, giving thanks to God repeatedly for a blessed life.

L. to r.: Centenarian Elzie Howard sits with his wife, Geneva, at a celebration held for him at Westbury Health and Rehab last Wednesday.                                       Photo by Monroe Roark

  The family of Rev. E.L. Howard came together last week at Westbury Health & Rehabilitation Center in McDonough, where he has lived for three years, and put together a special program in his honor.

  Seated next to Geneva, his wife of 61 years, Elzie Leigh Howard smiled throughout the program as his three daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren honored him in word and song. Other friends, including a couple of fellow ministers, thanked him for his influence on their lives.

 McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland presented Howard with a proclamation from the city honoring him on his 100th birthday. A special greeting by President Barack Obama was also presented, along with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in early January and provided with the help of U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

  The guest of honor said a few words from his chair near the end of the program.

  “I want to thank y’all for being here and making all of these speeches,” he said. “The Lord’s been good. He is always good, at all times.”

  He asked the audience to excuse him for remaining seated, saying that he was at the time in his life where he mostly sat. “But I still know the Lord,” he added.

  The second of 12 children, Howard was born in Aliceville, Ala. He was raised on a farm and picked cotton and plowed as a boy. His mother was one of his teachers in elementary school and his grandfather was a pastor.

After working in concrete and pouring concrete as a young adult, he started a taxi business in Gulfport, Miss. He and his wife worked together in that business for 29 years, as he drove and she answered the phone. They put their daughters – Irma, Alma and Joyce – through college with money from Howard’s Cab Company, and after retirement he drove for the Head Start program for 15 years.

  Elzie and Geneva Howard joined Mercy Seat Baptist Church where he served as a deacon and a trustee as well as treasurer and Sunday school teacher. He began preaching in 1976, serving as an associate pastor at Mercy Seat under four different pastors and was also pastor of Palmer’s Crossing Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss. He also served as an evangelist.

  Howard was chaplain of Memorial Hospital in Gulfport for 60 years. In 2007 the hospital auxiliary named a nursing scholarship program in honor of Elzie and Geneva Howard, awarding a total of $15,000 to nursing students. The Howards also received a Lifetime Membership Award from the hospital auxiliary for their volunteer service.



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