A life well lived –

‘Mama Sue’ turns 103, thanks Lord for lifetime of love
While Mary Sue Gailey may have recently turned 103 years old, many would agree she doesn’t look a day over 75.
A resident of The Oaks-Scenic View in Baldwin, Gailey – affectionately known as “Mama Sue” – said she thanked God for allowing her “to live this long.
“I never thought I’d make it, but I just sat here and waited,” she told The Northeast Georgian, laughing. “I thank the Lord He let me live this long.”
Gailey’s recent birthday was made even more memorable by the many friends and loved ones who showed up to help her celebrate, made possible by a festive party complete with cake, a pink birthday tiara and gifts, of course.
Having “all of them around me, I just appreciated all it,” she said of her guests. “I appreciate [the fact] people think about me.”
Gailey said she was thrilled by the number of people who showed up just for her.
“… A lot of people came that wouldn’t have otherwise,” she said, since many loved ones reside outside Habersham County.
Gailey’s gifts included cards with thoughtfully written notes, her favorite flower – an orchid, plants and comfy, cozy loungewear.
“I got a bunch of stuff,” she said, smiling.
“I just enjoyed it, but I wasn’t expecting all this,” Gailey added, referring to her interview with The Northeast Georgian.
Gailey’s granddaughter, Carol Pass of Statham, told The Northeast Georgian her grandmother is one in a million.
“All I remember is a lot of gardening, sewing, cooking, antiquing and taking care of five grandkids,” Pass said.
Pass said Gailey, who helped raise her and her siblings, also taught her to sew, have a love of flowers and how to be a lady.
“… And that you keep your fingers and toes painted, and makeup on at all times,” she laughed.
Pass’ story is backed up by Gailey’s appearance – classic and put together. Even if her plans consist of sitting and relaxing, a fresh-faced Gailey is dressed in a fashionable sweater, with her hair fixed and her eyes bright behind modest glasses.
“But I love talking to her just to learn how much she still remembers and hearing the old stories,” Pass said.
Born Sept. 10, 1914, in Banks County, Gailey is the daughter of the late Edward and Martha Tabor.
She was just a teenager when she met and married the love of her life, the late William Taylor Gailey, around 1934.
“We were both about the same age,” she said. “He was one year older than I was. We was 19, I think, somewhere around that.”
Gailey said she first set eyes on her future husband when they met up with a group of friends.
“He was nice and he was good to me – he was always good to me,” she said.
“She had a double wedding with their best friends, Charlie and Pauline Brown of Commerce,” Pass said.
“Another couple and I, we slipped off and went to South Carolina and got [married] over there,” Gailey said. “A [female] judge married us. … And we didn’t tell nobody about it for a few days. We went somewhere, but we didn’t tell them where we went.”
But when the newlyweds started living together, Gailey said they had to come clean.
“We had to tell them we got married,” she laughed.
Gailey said her marriage was a happy one, filled with love and laughter.
“I enjoyed it,” she said. “I miss him so much.”
Gailey said her husband died after a bout with cancer.
“He’s been gone about 10 years, maybe longer than that,” she said.
“They (hospital) gave me a bed and everything and let me live in the room with him the last week [before] he died,” Gailey continued.
Though the city of Commerce served as the backdrop for much of Gailey’s life, she said she’s also lived in places like Marietta, Georgia; Alabama; and Mississippi.
“We (husband and I) used to be with Lockheed Aircraft [Co.], and we had to move around wherever they sent us,” she said.
Gailey was known as a hard-worker, also serving as a machine operator for Blue Bell in Commerce, where they manufactured Wrangler jeans, Pass said.
“I worked about 20 years for [that] sewing plant,” Gailey said.
Pass said her grandmother worked most of her life before retiring at the age of 63.
In Gailey’s lifetime, she was also a dedicated member of Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Commerce.
“… I didn’t miss one Sunday,” she said. “I liked to go.”
Before moving to The Oaks, Gailey resided in Commerce with Pass’ mother, Linda, before her death in 2012 at the age of 66.
“Before she was there, she lived in Commerce with my mom,” Pass said. “Our mom died in 2012, so Mama Sue moved in with my sister, Susan, and was there until she fell and broke her hip.”
Though Gailey has resided at The Oaks for several years, she’s easily one of their spunkiest residents, who enjoys a rousing game of Bingo and visits from family.
When asked the secret to a long life, Gailey said it was taking care of yourself.
“I have bad health, but it gets better,” she said, like with the help of heart surgery. “Just little things, you know.”
When asked the age she was working toward achieving, she said, “I guess we just wish to live as long as we could,” thanking Him again for her long life.
“I just appreciate everything that’s ever been done for me and helped me live this long,” Gailey said.

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