During a beautiful parade of roses at Mrs. Priscilla Green-Alston Dunson’s 100th birthday celebration, one of her most profound wishes came true: she received flowers while she’s still alive. If you were to meet her on any given day, she would more than likely make that request known—to give her flowers while she lives so that she can smell them.
Afterwards, she’ll probably follow her request with an innocent joke about a lady who takes a can of soup into the funeral of a friend. And when asked by the usher who escorts the soup-bearing lady in, “Why bring soup?” the lady simply responds: if she can smell all of those flowers, then she can surely taste this soup.
Having known Mrs. Priscilla for many years, when interviewing her for this story I discovered a brilliant, wise centenarian with a great sense of humor and an incredible personality.
Full of faith, a genuine love for God and a jovial spirit, Mrs. Priscilla, as she is affectionately known, celebrated her 100th birthday on Sept. 6, with her loving family and close friends.
She was born on Sept. 5, 1920 when a loaf of bread cost 11 cents, a gallon of gas 10 cents, and the average price of a new car was $500. Mrs. Priscilla said that she was born in Warrenton where she has lived all of her life, and attributes her longevity and good health to God.
Since the age of nine, she has been a member of Greenwood Baptist Church in the Greenwood Community. She says that not only has she lived in Warrenton her whole life, but on the same family land. She mentions a life-size dollhouse built for her when she was a young girl that remains on the property to this day.
When asked about her fondest childhood memory, Mrs. Priscilla said, “They were all great. I had a wonderful childhood!” And after talking to her daughter Glenda, it is obvious that Mrs. Priscilla is a great mother who provided a loving and safe home for her four children, Ella, James Jr., Glenda and Don.
Mrs. Priscilla says that she has lived a good life, but refers to one sad year when she lost three loving family members: her husband James, daughter Ella and son-in-law. She again referred to her strong faith in God for bringing her through that year.
She closes each day with a prayer thanking God for countless blessings in her life and allowing her to touch many other lives. One of her favorite Bible scriptures is Psalm 121: 1-2 “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”
Documented in Mrs. Priscilla’s biographical records, she graduated from John R. Hawkins High School in 1938. During that time, John R. Hawkins accommodated students from grades one through 12, and she was inducted into the academic honor society each year.
She also joined the high school basketball team playing the forward position. After school hours, as a young girl Priscilla enjoyed the company of her friends while roller skating, attending the movies and other pleasurable activities.
Upon high school graduation, Priscilla worked as a secretary for NC Cooperative Extension in Warren County with Agent C. S. Wynn, and as a welfare caseworker with Oppie Emerson. Later in life she was a homemaker and self-employed owner/operator with her husband at Dunson’s Grocery. Before retiring in 1985, Priscilla devoted 14 years of service to Peck Manufacturing Company in Warrenton.
Also noted in her biography are her favorite pastimes of cooking/baking, flower and vegetable gardening, completing crossword puzzles, visiting with friends and family in person and by phone, and she loves reading a good book. Mrs. Priscilla served many years on the advisory committee for the Plummer Hook and Ladder Society and the John R. Hawkins Alumni and Friends Association.
Sunday’s 100th birthday celebration was small in number, because of social distancing requirements, but it was grand in splendor, joy and love. It began with a drive-through parade of cars honking and sending best wishes to Mrs. Priscilla.
Nikki Walker and Akil Walker fondly recalled the summers spent with their grandmother while they were growing up. Several family friends spoke of the true and special friendships they have cultivated with Mrs. Priscilla over the years. There were other tributes from her children and grandchildren. And finally plaques commemorating her 100th birthday from Greenwood Baptist Church, the U. S. House of Representatives, Congressman G. K. Butterfield and The Warren County Emancipation Proclamation Committee were shared. Happy Birthday, Mrs. Priscilla Dunson!