Church member gets surprise for 95th birthday
Photo by Timothy Ramsey
BY TIMOTHY RAMSEY
Being able to celebrate a 95th birthday is a remarkable feat unto itself. Inez Gearlds, longtime member of St. Paul United Methodist Church, just celebrated turning 95. However, she enjoys independent living of someone 40 years younger.
She still drives herself around, actively participates in many church activities and by all accounts is one of the best bridge players around. She is adored and revered by all she comes across.
As a surprise, Sharon Cunningham, a close friend of Gearlds, decided to reach out to St. Paul Senior Pastor Donald Jenkins to put together a party for Gearlds. With only around a week to coordinate efforts, Cunningham was able to reach out to close friends and church members and held the party at one of Gearlds’ favorite restaurants: North Point Grill.
Everyone in attendance had nothing but praise and admiration for Gearlds.
“She is truly a wonderful person and you could not meet a nicer person anywhere,” said Lessie Hatton. “At her age she is so sharp and her mind is so clear, I wish I had her mind right now.
Billie Matthews said, “Inez and I have been bridge partners and friends for a number of years. She’s got more energy than I do and we have had a lot of fun together. We just enjoy some of the same things, and I love her.
The well wishes continued throughout the evening, including a visit from WXII news anchor and St. Paul member Wanda Starke, who came by to wish Gearlds a happy birthday.
Cunningham was glad the party turned out so well even though she only had a short period of time to put things together. She says she was honored to be able to celebrate Gearlds birthday in this manner.
“She is such a special, strong, spiritual, wise and encouraging woman,” Cunningham continued. “It was important that we continued to celebrate her life. She still gives so much of herself to the community and it’s amazing to see how God is still blessing her.”
Gearlds says she was overwhelmed by the turnout of her party. She says she wasn’t expecting this but was so happy.
“I just feel great and wonderful to have people think that much of me,” she said. “I’m just elated, completely elated. It does my heart good for me to know that people still think about me and think that I’m a good person. It makes me feel good that people think enough about me to come out and celebrate with me because I had no idea.”
Rev. Jenkins says he was more than happy to assist in the party for Gearlds because she is so important to the church community at St. Paul.
“This is a blessing and I’m really happy to be here on her 95th birthday,” Jenkins said. “She is a blessing and she is an integral part of everything we do. She is a positive spirit and she is an inspiration to all.”
Phyllis Harrell-Vaughn added, “I was invited to come to St. Paul by Ms. Gearlds and I joined the church after the first service I attended. I just love her and she is so genuine. She just accepts you for who you are.”