Fannie Mae Bownes – 100 years old
Fannie Mae Bownes, the matriarch of the Bownes family, has celebrated her 100th birthday.
She is still able to do almost everything she wants to do and is in her right mind, according to her family.
She has lived through World War II, the Great Depression, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the war in Iraq.
She was born Fannie Mae Byrd to Robert Byrd and Ollie Johnson-Byrd on Sept. 15, 1919, in Chesterfield County, Alabama.
Her parents had five daughters and two sons. Fannie still has one living sister, Winnie Byrd, of Saginaw.
At 17, in Caruthersville, Mo., Fannie married Esker Bownes Sr., who is now deceased. Seven children were born to their union of 74 years: Etta Hayden (deceased), Barbara McGee, Dasiy Bownes, Esker Bownes Jr., Albert Bownes, Armentha Williford and Maureen Neal.
Fannie is now the grandmother of 23; the great-grandmother of 67; and the great-great-grandmother to 20-plus.
Fannie isn’t much of a homemaker now, but in her younger days, she worked as a housekeeper at the local Caruthersville hotel.
Fannie has lived in the City of Benton Harbor for more than 60 years. For more than 50 of those years, she has resided in the same house on Pearl Street. In her home she has feed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, and served many of the Benton Harbor ministers of the Gospel.
She is a faithful Christian who enjoys reading the Bible and listening to gospel music. Over the years, Fannie has attended many churches in the area.
She served as a church mother at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church for more than 20 years, and currently is a member of Hopewell Baptist Church.
Fannie says her secret to longevity comes from Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.”