It's the 100th time Happy Birthday has been sung in her honor. Mrs. Pearl Latham is 100 years of age.
Mrs. Latham's 73 year-old son sat next to her at the front of her church, Pleasant Green Baptist in Clinton. He says he explains to her that HE is a senior citizen now, to which she replies, "You're just a baby."
Obviously this lady has meant a great deal to her church over her 100 years. But her former students were also there and spoke of her.
"Mrs. Pearl Latham was my 5th grade teacher," said Johnnie Banks. "She was a very sweet teacher. Very soft spoken."
That sweet, quiet spirit of Mrs. Latham was brought up by several people, especially her quiet, calming spirit during a very violent time in America's history. 1963 was the year President Kennedy was assassinated, along with Medgar Evers, and the Birmingham church bombing.
Shirley Jordan Miller was a 5th grade student that year in Mrs. Latham's class. And remembers something else besides all of that from that year.
"Miss. Latham, and the group of ladies here, took us, this was in 1963, to Pensacola, Florida, so that we could discover what a beach was all about," said Miller.
Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Graves was in that same 5th grade class in Clinton that year and remembers a calm, supportive teacher in a tumultuous time.
"It could not have been more important in a world of change and chaos and disorder in 1963 than to have somebody as calm and quiet and soft spoken as Mrs. Latham," said Judge Graves.
Her philosophy for getting to age 100? "To love everybody and try to get along with everybody."
After the celebration 100 red balloons were released in honor of her 100 years of age. The balloons immediately were caught up by the winds and scattered, much like the influence this quiet lady has scattered to who knows where after making a calming difference in the lives of no telling how many 5th graders during her career.
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