Arthur "Buck" Brown celebrates his 102nd birthday today. Brown says he farmed all his life and credits hard work and faith in God for his longevity. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
CONYERS -- Arthur "Buck" Brown will celebrate his 102nd birthday today doing what has always been important to him -- spending time with his family.
And he has plenty of family to keep him company. Brown and his wife were the parents of seven children. One child is deceased, but two live in Rockdale near their father, two live in DeKalb County, and two live in Covington. In addition, Brown has 100 grandchildren and he estimates about that same number of great-grandchildren.
Brown was born on Christmas Day in 1910 and grew up in Henry County on a sharecropper's farm before moving to Rockdale County.
"I always farmed -- all my days," he said, adding that he grew corn, cotton, beans, sweet potatoes -- "about everything that can be grown on a farm."
Brown's own father left shortly after they moved to Rockdale County, he recently recalled, which gave him a strong sense of commitment toward his own family. When asked what stood out to him about his life, Brown said, "I've been here a long time. I got married and raised a family."
Brown's wife, Leola, died in 1985. One family story about the couple has it that their courtship started out on a practical note.
"He said she lived the closest to him and he didn't have a car," said granddaughter Melvia Brown-Hunter with a laugh. "I don't know if he was teasing or not."
Though a little hard of hearing, Brown remains remarkably fit and alert. Family members say he was driving as recently as a few weeks ago before he had a minor setback. He still lives in his home in Rockdale County.
When asked about the secret to his longevity, Brown credited hard work and faith in God.
"I come through thick and thin, sometimes up and sometimes down. I come up the hard way, but I made it, with the help of the Lord," he said.
Brown also spoke of his love for his church, Double Springs Baptist, where he serves as a deacon.
"I love church," he said. "I grew up there. ... I'd go to churches far and near. I always loved to go to church."
Though his birthday falls on Christmas Day, Brown said he hasn't so much celebrated his birthday over the years as the holiday itself.
"I was just Santa Claus to the children, that's about all I did," he said.