Beatrice Adcock Hester, shown her in her Milstead home amidst birthday cards and flowers, turned 100 on July 28, 2012. She is holding a family portrait, which includes, front from left, herself, her sister Margaret, sister Edna, back from left, brother Sylvester, brother Herman and father Sanders F. Adcock. Behind her are portraits of her late husband Johnny Hester, and, above, the piano, her late grandson Mike Christian.
Doctors recently gave centenarian Beatrice Adcock Hester an excellent report, said her daughter Laura Jean Christian, who attributes her mother's long life and good health to hard work and faith in God.
Hester, who turned 100 on July 28, worked on a farm picking cotton as a child and at Callaway Mills in Milstead for a quarter century in her adult years.
"It's about like pickin' cotton all the time," said Hester of her work in the cotton mill. "I'd rather have done that."
Hester celebrated her birthday with friends and family at Crossroads United Methodist Church a few weeks ago, with about 200 well-wishers stopping by to congratulate her.
Born on July 28, 1912, in Walton County, Hester spent her childhood on a farm in the Union Chapel community with her parents, Sanders F. Adcock and Ruth Hawk Adcock, and four siblings. The family grew cotton, vegetables and apple trees and raised cows, chickens and pigs.
At 17, Hester lost her mother to pneumonia (having also endured the death of a baby sister the year before), and she became the caretaker for her younger sisters and brother.
In 1930, she married Johnny Hester who hailed from the nearby Hester community. Though the couple moved to her mother-in-law's farm in the Ebenezer community of Walton County, Beatrice Hester continued to help out with her family farm back in Union Chapel.
Milstead became the Hesters' new home in 1933 when Johnny Hester took a job in the carding department of Callaway Mills for $12.50 a week. By then, the couple had become parents to Laura Jean; four years later they had Neal.
While her children were still young, Hester began working in the spinning department of Callaway Mills, Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. When she arrived home, she cooked, cleaned and found time to sew clothes for her family, make afghan quilts and crochet. She also made preserves, jellies and jams, and canned vegetables from the garden.
"She was always working at something," said her daughter, who learned to sew and can by her mother's side.
Neal Hester remembers his mother's superior baking. Sweet potato pie was her specialty and she would often make it for church functions.
"She was a real good cook," said her son.
Hester worked at the mill until it closed in 1960. She then got a job as a seamstress for Gordon Manufacturing in Conyers, from which she retired in 1973.
Hester's children said their mother exudes a calm, loving demeanor, loves children and, in her younger days, immersed herself in church life. She still attends church when the weather is cool.
As a child, Hester was a member of Union Chapel Methodist Church, and then transferred her membership to Milstead Methodist Church, which eventually changed to Crossroads United Methodist Church.
Hester served as a teacher and officer for the Ladies' Bible Class, and a member of the Woman's Society of Christian Service. She also sung in the adult choir and was an assistant communion steward.
"My mother is a very dedicated Christian lady, and she's been dedicated all her life," said her son.
He said a passage from the Bible, the fifth Chapter of Galatians, best describes his mother: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such, there is no law."
"She truly exemplifies the 'fruit of the spirit,'" he said.