“It’s a true blessing to be here today celebrating Mother’s 103rd birthday,” said Joshlyn. “We never knew from day to day what to expect when she was in the hospital, except for one thing, she was determined to make it to this party!” Laughing hardily, Joshlyn said that there wasn’t one day that went by that her mother didn’t ask about some detail of the party, whether it was about the caterers, the decorations or the invitations. “When she got sick, she didn’t want us to know because she thought we would cancel her party. And when she finally got out of the hospital, the first thing she said is ‘Don’t put any salt in my food. I want to stay healthy.'”
When I interviewed Mrs. Stovall a couple years ago, her words of wisdom were, “Live life a day at a time.” Yesterday, as she sat between her brother, Jeffrey Davis, who is 95 years old, and her “Baby Sister,” Eula Davis, who is 83 years old, (her brother Herman Davis, who is 87 years old, had not yet made it to the party), she had one firm piece of advice for me: “Family is love!” Besides Joshlyn, she was also surrounded by her children Alfreda Williams, Jacinto Dortch, Alonzo Stovall, Barbara Stovall Carter and Rodney Stovall, and by assorted grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews and in-laws. Good genes obviously run in their family. Jeffrey and his wife Dorothy drove all the way from Mobile, Alabama, to Chicago in order to attend the party.
Mrs Stovall with her 95 year old brother Jeffrey Davis and 83 year old “Baby Sister,” Eula Davis. (Her brother Herman Davis, 87, could not attend the party today.)
I arrived at the party later because of a previous engagement, but I still managed to get there in time for peach cobbler. I sat with Thelma Ramsey, a friend of Mrs. Stovall from Friendship Baptist Church, who told me, “She is amazing, she is soft-spoken, but people listen to her when she speaks, and they respect her. And she is still inspiring us.” Her neighbors said that on her own, Mrs. Stovall organized Thanksgiving dinners for people in the building who didn’t have families, because she loved to feed people.