Gladys Lawley celebrates 100 years

Gladys Lawley, (center), celebrates her 100th birthday. She is surrounded by (L-R) Towana Pardue, Mary Hall and Carolyn Stephens.

Gladys Lawley celebrated her 100th birthday just the way she has always lived, surrounded by family and close friends. Daughters Carolyn Stephens and Mary Hall hosted a party in the Stephens’ home, festive with balloons, flowers, good food and gifts.

Hearing well is a problem for Gladys, but her happy expression left no doubt she was thoroughly enjoying the merrymaking.

When asked to what she attributes her long life, she confessed that she thought it was because she never gained weight, did not live to eat—but ate to live, never smoked nor drank and was a devout Christian.

Another question posed the centenarian was what she considered her most important achievement.

Her quick reply was living a Christian life. Many members of her church, Dogwood Grove, will confirm that she did just that; taught Sunday school, worked in the church and took care of several members of her family and community.

There have been many changes in the past 100 years.

“I remember the first automobile I ever saw,” said Gladys. “My sister climbed up in it for a ride, but I tried to outrun it.”

Automobiles still fascinate her. Her daughters say their mother loves to go to ride, and every new car she sees she thinks is the very finest.

Gladys was born in West Blocton to Frank and Fannie Eiland. Her mother died when she was only a year old, and her sisters cared for her until their father married again. The blended family brought 13 children into the home. The older children cared for the little ones, so life in that home prepared Gladys for the challenges of her future life – those of caring for others.

The family moved to Dogwood when she was still a young child and she has lived a lifetime there. Her husband, Grover (Pinkie) Lawley operated a store and a barbershop. Gladys worked in the store until her girls were old enough to replace her there. They remember that she always went home in time to work in the garden and to cook a big lunch; and that often there were any number of folks at the table other than family.

Gladys is content with the life she has lived and with her life today. Her daughters, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild visit regularly, and her life of giving and caring is reflected in the gentle and loving care she receives from her family.

Catherine Legg can be reached by e-mail at