Oine resident Geraldine Nicholson has devoted her long life to helping others through her career and service to her church and community. On Monday, she will celebrate her 90th and has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

A Warren County native born Oct. 25, 1931, she is the daughter of the late Hilliard Bullock and Marie Rudd Bullock. The family lived in the Coley Springs area, where many of her Bullock relatives had settled, before moving to the Perrytown community, where many members of the Rudd family lived.

Hilliard Bullock was a member of Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church, while the Rudd family worshipped at Greenwood Baptist Church. Nicholson recalled walking to Greenwood with her parents and siblings.

A highlight of growing up in the area was the community Sunday school led by deacons of the church and members of the community. Summers were filled with Children’s Days, when boys and girls in the church would give speeches and song songs.

Community worship also included dinners complete with lemonade fresh out of large barrels.  

Nicholson attended the Axtell School in the Perrytown community. She recalled several favorite teachers, including Ms. Mabel Faulkner.

“There were great teachers,” she said. “I’ll never forget Ms. Davis and Ms. Faulkner.”

Nicholson recalled that the school building featured a large classroom area and a stage, which was sometimes used as a classroom. At one point, Ms. Faulkner managed the entire school.

After elementary school, Nicholson attended John R. Hawkins High School, which offered grades seven through 12 at that time. J.E. Byers was principal, and Nicholson’s favorite teachers were Betty Newsome and Ms. Woodard.

“They were both very caring people,” she said.

Nicholson went on to attend Fayetteville State College, now Fayetteville State University, graduating in 1953 with a degree in Education. While there, she was voted Fayetteville State College Homecoming Queen.

As an adult, the young woman who was inspired by a number of special teachers became a teacher herself. Nicholson began her career at Chaloner Elementary School in Roanoke Rapids. She went on to teach at her alma mater, John R. Hawkins High School, and Vaughan Elementary School in Warren County.

Nicholson continued her teaching career after moving to New Jersey, teaching elementary grades in Essex and Passaic counties.

She is grateful for having the opportunity to shape the lives of her young students, just as her favorite teachers inspired her.

“I had a great career. I loved the people so,” Nicholson.

In 1977, she took a different career path with Mary Kay Cosmetics, another opportunity for which she feels blessed. Nicholson began in sales and worked her way up to become National Sales Director, becoming one of the first African Americans to reach that position.

“I loved that company,” she said. “Mary Kay’s theme was God first, your family second, then your business.”

Nicholson is grateful for the opportunity to guide other women who demonstrated the values of sticktoativeness, a love for people and the willingness to do what others won’t do toward leadership roles at Mary Kay. Her work also allowed her to travel the world — Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Canada, the Bahamas and Hawaii — and to take a cruise on the Mediterranean.

When she retired in 1997, she was named National Sales Director Emeritus. Nicholson still sees her former colleagues from time to time, and she is esteemed as a valued member of the company team.

“There is much respect give for dedication, hard work and helping others to succeed,” she said.

Nicholson continued her work to help others succeed when she returned to Warren County in 2002. She returned to the field of education, teaching Language Arts at the Vance-Granville Community College Warren Campus. At the age of 79, she decided that it was finally time to fully retire.

Nicholson loves spending time with her family. She was married to the late Herman Nicholson, Jr., and has two daughters, three granddaughters, one great-granddaughter and two great-grandsons.

In retirement, Nicholson continues her lifetime mission of helping others by being active at her church, Greenwood Missionary Baptist, where she serves as a deacon and has taught Sunday school, headed a project to develop a book highlighting the church’s history for its 141st Anniversary and was instrumental in establishing the Women’s Ministry.

Nicholson remains active in the community through the Warren County NAACP, Warren County Retired School Personnel, National Education Association, North Carolina Association of Educators and the John R. Hawkins Alumni & Friends.

She reflects on a long, full life with gratitude, saying that she is thankful for her family’s health and that her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have been good to her. Nicholson is thankful to the Lord for providing inspiration about how she can be a blessing to other people and extend love to them.

As she looks toward her 90th birthday, Nicholson would prefer to spend her special day much as she has spent her life — by helping others. She has made arrangements to have 90 cupcakes baked and placed in individual packaging. Nicholson will take these cupcakes to Warren Hills Rehabilitation & Nursing Center on Oct. 25 to share with the residents there.

“The Lord didn’t let me live to 90 years old to celebrate me,” she said. “He should be celebrated. Show love to others and help others. We are not here just to take up space.”

Due to the pandemic, there will be a drive-by celebration honoring Geraldine Nicholson’s 90thbirthday on Sunday, Oct. 24. Participants are asked to meet at the parking lot of Chapel Hill Baptist Church in the Oine community at 1:30 p.m. The parade will start at 2 p.m. For more information, contact Larry M. Jones, Jr. at 252-382-4180 or Jennifer Sims at 252-213-6343.