By Lora Scripps
She’s lived through 19 presidents and several major wars. She’s been witness to the Great Depression, the first man on the moon and the age of information among numerous other things.
“I’m 104 years old,” Odessa Summers of Mississippi said. “I came all the way from Horn Lake to celebrate.”
Odessa recently visited Athens and spent time with family and friends for her birthday.
Known for her spunky spirit and called “Sister” or “Feisty Lady,” Odessa joined her sister Irma Roberts, 90, of Memphis, Tenn., brother Gene “Peck” Hartsfield Sr., 86, and wife Annette, 83, of Athens and friend Barbara Embrey of Southhaven, Miss., as well as other family and friends.
The group loved sharing stories about Odessa. “Up until last year she would still cut grass,” her brother Peck said. “And cut wood,” Irma said. “And she still hangs clothes out on the line. She doesn’t believe in using the dryer.”
Odessa said she still likes to work. She wraps airplane parts for her grandson, a job she’s been doing for more than 30 years. “I can’t just sit there,” she said.
In fact, when she was age 98 and 99 she rode her motorcycle to Corinth before meeting her family and heading to Athens, according to her sister-in-law Annette.
Odessa still rides with her son when she gets the chance. “I love to ride a motorcycle,” she said.
Odessa loves spicy foods, sherbet and homemade ice cream — a treat Annette made while she visited. “I eat what I want to eat,” Odessa said. “Anything that doesn’t bite back.”
Annette cooks when Odessa and the others visit and they take time to go out to eat together as well. “We have good time laughing and catching up,” Annette said.
Odessa has lived a long, exciting life, but said she doesn’t believe in going to the doctor or taking a lot of medicines. She just lives life like she believes you’re suppose to.
Odessa was born Oct. 2, 1907, in Corinth, Miss., to Pauline and Lester Hartsfield.
She grew up with four brothers, Benton “Big Dudder,” Maupin, Vernon and Peck, and one sister, Irma. Odessa, Peck and Irma are the three still living.
Odessa attended Tech High School in Memphis. As a little girl she moved to Hattiesburg, Miss., and later Tuscumbia. However, she said she spent most of her life in or around Memphis.
Odessa has one son, Eddie, and one grandson, Chad.
She made a living working as a clerk at W.T. Grants for 19 years. She also worked at a drug store for about that long.
At 100, the city of Horn Lake planted a tree in Odessa’s honor and she received birthday cards from several past presidents. Last year, Annette turned her name into Good Old Days Magazine and Odessa received hundreds of cards from people across the United States wishing her a happy birthday.
“I can’t hear real well or get around real well anymore, but I can still talk,” she joked. “I didn’t lose my voice.”
The truth is Odessa is doing great at age 104 and everyone was pleased to celebrate her special day.
Happy Birthday Odessa!