Three months ago, Watkinsville resident Grace Guillory was overjoyed when a caravan of First Christian Church members came to wish her a happy 95th birthday.
Rev. Sheila Hunter, who Grace said was “like a daughter to her,” also visited, along with Philip Ashford and his wife, Jordan Daniell Ashford.
Grace’s enduring friendships are just a reflection of what has mattered most in her life, be it church family or the Ashford children that she helped raise as their nanny.
Long before her time with the church or the Ashford family, though, she spent much of her time with her biological family. Grace was born July 3, 1925 and had 12 siblings.
She grew up in a house on Harden Hill Road right by the creek where the recently constructed bridge is located. In those days, the creek was a small spring, and Grace and her siblings would regularly drink from it.
Her mother, Gertrude or “Trudy” Evans, would wash laundry there.
“We’d be with her all the time washing,” Grace said. “She took care of the whole people of Watkinsville. She would wash and iron, and she dry cleaned their clothes. She did a lot.”
In addition to her laundry services, Trudy helped her husband, Romeo, ran a restaurant where the old downtown fire station and now the street department building sits.
Romeo also used to do some work for the Ashfords and Bethel Baptist Church, and Grace would often accompany him. She then got baptized at Bethel Baptist.
Grace also recalled how as a young girl, she and some of her siblings would walk along what were then dirt roads and across the railroad tracks to get to Watkinsville’s Rosenwald school, where Colham Ferry Elementary School stands now. Grace left Watkinsville at 14 to live and work in Atlanta, where she was a waitress and cafeteria food worker.
“I was very independent...I would take jobs that wouldn’t pay anything,” she said, “because I wanted to take care of myself… I made $12 a week. I didn’t make much money, but I made it.”
For more on this story, see the Nov. 5 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website.