Macie Sibert was born at the start of WWI
(pictured above: Tom Jones praises his aunt Macie Sibert (seated, center). Also pictured are Priscilla Parker and Rev. Timothy Fogle.)
Pretty in pink and aglow with vim, Macie Sibert on Saturday was the quintessence of the grand matriarch her family says she had long ago become.
Her 100th birthday celebration attracted friends and relations from as far away as California. Guests were held captive for more than an hour-and-a-half by musings on Sibert delivered by those who know her best. Tom Jones said his “Aunt Macie” came up in an era when folks were proudly independent and not afraid of hard work.
“People had to raise their own food; people had to take care of themselves,” he said.
Work ethic and strength of character are traits Sibert has embodied all of her life and ones she inculcated in her kin. Sibert and her late husband, Charlie, never had kids of their own, so they became the unofficial adoptive parents to their nieces, nephews and various neighborhood youngsters. Jones said he was spoiled during his stays with the Siberts, but never indolent. At their uncle’s insistence, the kids kept the grass cut and the trees pruned.
“Uncle Charlie kept you busy and Aunt Marcie kept you well-fed,” he said.
The stark differences between the America that Sibert, a black woman, was born into and the one she was feted in on Saturday were not lost on the speakers or attendees. World World I began – literally – the day after she was born – July 27, 1914. Woodrow Wilson was president, and rules – both written and implied – kept blacks here in Winston-Salem, her hometown, in their place. Still, Sibert pushed against barriers in her own quiet way.
She was a longtime employee of Anchor – the now defunct downtown department store. Sibert worked her way up from a cleaner to an elevator operator to a position in inventory, an area where few blacks saw opportunities. When Anchor foundered, she worked at Davis Inc., another retail Goliath of the time.
Sibert’s smile grew wider Saturday when her niece, Stella Fogle, read a birthday greeting from President and First Lady Obama. His election in 2008 was one of things she never could have imagined way back when.
Her party was held at The Oaks at Forsyth, an assisted living facility adjacent to Forsyth Medical Center. Sibert arrived there in April after she had a rather bad fall at Fogle’s home in Charlotte.
“Overall, her health is good,” said Fogle, who cared for her aunt for several years. “She is not on any serious medications; she’s still sharp.”
Sibert is a woman of strong faith. Her loved ones attribute that to her long life and salubrity.
“She is a Christian woman, and she exemplifies that in her daily walk,” Fogle stated.
Her pastor, Rev. Derwin Montgomery, concurred. Sibert is a longtime member of First Calvary Baptist Church, which, at 96-years-old, is a tad younger than she is.
“Although she is not able to be at church physically, she’s always there with us,” said Montgomery, who is also the East Ward representative on the Winston-Salem City Council. “She is one of those who helped to build the foundation of First Calvary … She helped to make it what it is.”
Priscilla Parker met Sibert in 1988, a year after her own mother passed away. The two hit it off right away, so much so that Sibert unoffically adopted the adult Parker and proclaimed her a “goddaughter.” Parker sat at the side of her “godmother” during the birthday celebration and visits her every day at The Oaks.
“She is a blessing to me, and I want to show her every day how much she means to me,” Parker said. “She is my best friend.”
Sibert was overwhelmed by the occasion and the love that exuded from every direction.
“I didn’t know they were going to do all this. God bless you all,” she said softly.