Rebecca “Fannie” Dawkins turned 103 on Feb. 7.
Dawkins said she feels fine and she “enjoyed the service” Sunday, at her church, Turner Memorial AME in West Columbia.
After the service the church held a a party for Dawkins.
“It’s wonderful” she said of her party, sitting beside her little sister Doretha Herlong, age 92. Dawkins is West Columbia’s eldest resident. She has been a member of Turner AME for more than 85 years.
Dawkins’ niece Henerietta Taylor, along with Addie Caldwell, Ollie Folks and her daughter Dee Folks helped put the party together.
“As long as she lives there should be a celebration of her birthday,” said Caldwell, “to show how much we appreciate her. She has work so hard over the years in the church.”
Henrietta Taylor, Dawkins’ niece, described her aunt as “awesome.” She said Dawkins, who lived on Lown Street near the church for decades, has been an “inspiration to the community and the neighborhood.”
Taylor also said she visit Dawkins daily and many of the church members come to see her, too, along with Pastor Kenneth Taylor.
Pastor Taylor said Dawkins is a blessing to the whole community. “We love her.” He said Dawkins is in reasonably good health, her mind is good and the church looks forward to her coming to services. They make sure she gets a ride when she can come.
Pastor Taylor also said Ms Fannie told him she wants to live to be 110.
“And she believes God will give that to her because he has given her everything else she has asked for,” said Taylor.
Her only complaint was that the pastor did not give her enough wine when she took communion, Taylor said with a laugh.
West Columbia Councilman Mickey Pringle is a member of Turner AME. He said he has known Dawkins since 1976 when he moved to the neighborhood.
“She’s always the same,” said Pringle. “She’s a wonderful, wonderful person, who has always cared about others.”
Pringle also spoke of Dawkins' independent streak and the time she drove her motorized wheel chair to the corner store.
“Her battery died,” said Pringle. ” So we put her wheel char in the back of my truck and gave her a ride back home and charged her battery.”
Shirley Burns’ grandmother was a friend of Dawkins’ who lived a block away.
“I’ve known Ms Fannie for 48 years,” said Burns. Burns found out Saturday that there would be a birthday party for Dawkins. She said Dawkins has been an icon in the community and she could not miss the opportunity to come to pay her respects to her on Dawkins’ 103rd birthday.