Marie Jones is starting her 102nd year of life spent in Catoosa County.
She celebrated her birthday among family, friends and the staff of NHC of Fort Oglethorpe, where she resides, Jan. 3 with a birthday cake, punch and slide show of historical events that took place in the last 102 years.
"When she turned 99 she was still sharp as a tack," said NHC nurse Elizabeth Swanson, who began taking care of Jones five years ago. "She remembers when she and her husband together earned $25 a week and raised two children on that. She has been an inspiration to a lot of people."
"Marie is a wonderful person, very genuine," said NHC of Fort Oglethorpe Administrator John Nosworthy. "She is always smiling and sweet."
He presented Jones with a state of Georgia happy birthday letter from the office of Gov. Nathan Deal. Jones also accepted a happy birthday letter from U.S. Rep. Tom Graves' office presented by his field representative Travis Loudermilk.
According to Jones' daughters Geraldine Hayes and Barbara Tolley, their mother was born in 1910 in Ringgold and moved to Rossville at age 16 to work at Peerless Woolen Mills and later at the nearby Personality Shop.
Hayes said Jones' father passed away when she was 6 years old, so she began working on a farm with her family as a young child to earn room and board.
Jones married James David in 1929 and stayed married to him until he passed away 73 years later.
For the last five years Jones has been a resident of NHC in Fort Oglethorpe where she participates in activities like dancing and exercising with her arms. When she first arrived at NHC she surprised activities leaders by being able to play boxing on the Wii and assist with Bible studies.
Hayes said her mother has always watched her diet and handled stress with ease.
"She would attribute her long life to the blessings of God to her," said Hayes.
South Rossville Baptist Church's the Rev. Jeff Daniels said Jones taught Sunday school at South Rossville for 50 years and joined the church membership approximately 80 years ago.
"Until eight years ago, she went to church every Sunday," said Daniels, who has served at the church for 15 years. "You could count on Marie like clockwork. She was a constant encouragement with a smile on her face."