Grace Payne turns 100

June 6, 2009 - Grace Payne of Blairsville, Georgia turns 100

Grace Hunt Payne recently celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends. Grace was born on June 8, 1909 in Union County. She credits good genes and healthy living for her long life. Grace says, "I also ate homegrown food, mostly vegetables, got lots of exercise, went to church, and never smoked or drank."

Union County Commissioner Lamar Paris has proclaimed June 8 th as Grace Payne Day. Mrs. Payne is a native of Union County where she taught school for 30 years. She recalls teaching in a one room school house, "I started teaching when I was 16 years old. When I arrived on the first day, I heard one of the boys whispering, 'Reckon she knows anything?'"

She continues, "Some of the schools I taught at were miles away. I walked every morning and built a fire to get the building warm before the children arrived. One day I must have been running late because one boy started waving his arms and told me my coat was on fire. We got the fire out but it left a hole in my coat."

"Once I decided to walk home from Gaddistown (Suches area of Union County) to Skeenah Gap and Highway 76 where my parents lived. I walked through Fish Gap on a Forest Service trail and finally made it right before dark. My dad made such a fuss over me out walking alone but I wasn't scared. We had it hard sometimes but there was lots of joking and laughing."

Grace married Major Payne 72 years ago. Her husband's eyes light up when he says, "We slipped off and got married. Preacher Burns tied a hard knot when he married me and Grace." Grace and Major live in the Young Cane area of Union County . They have one daughter, Blanche Huddleston, two grandsons, and three great grandsons.

Grace adds, "I'm usually out hoeing corn on my birthday but at 100 I guess it's OK if I take the day off." Best wishes to Grace Payne on her birthday and throughout the upcoming year.