Many people in Long County and the surrounding areas long have felt a special connection with a well-known Ludowici resident. Frances Daly, who cherishes her role as the community’s adopted matriarch, was delighted recently when St. Phillips Missionary Baptist Church hosted a day of appreciation in her honor.
Daly, who was born in 1933 and is a lifelong resident of Long County, tries to touch the lives of everyone she meets. She has accomplished many things over the years. From cooking for students during the time she spent as the manager of Long County schools’ cafeterias to singing the blues as a young woman with Tina Turner at the old Harlem Nights Club in Ludowici, there isn’t much Daly hasn’t experienced. She actually was asked to take her singing talents on the road when she was younger, but she said she had a different calling — a calling to serve the Lord and to help people.
“I was always interested in helping others in the community, the various churches, civic groups and such. Whatever comes to my hands to do, I do what I can. I try to go where I am needed,” Daly said.
Even though she has been there for others, the community pillar has been through many ups and downs of her own. Daly hit a low point when she lost a child.
“When I lost my middle daughter, Joyce, I thought it would all be over for me then, but when you have faith and you put your trust in God, He will see you through all of your darkest hours and He will fight all of your battles,” she said.
The faith she speaks of has guided Daly throughout her life and influenced her decision to decline an offer to tour as a blues singer in the 1950s. Instead, she took her talent to area churches to sing God’s praises.
Daly first discovered her gift for singing hymns when she accepted Christ as her savior at the age of 9 — and she hasn’t stopped since. During her appreciation ceremony at St. Phillips, Daly joined one of her adopted daughters, Bennie May Collins, and sang “One Day at a Time.”
Dee Frasier, who was tasked with giving an occasion for Daly on her day of honor, said, “I will not do an occasion but will do a tribute to a woman I love like a mother … now, mother, look around you and you will see that you are well-loved. I salute you.”
Another celebration attendee, Mary Hamilton, touched on why countless people think so highly of Daly.
“When I was growing up, her house was the one where everyone could come by. You would drop in and she always would cook something for you. When you were sick, she was always there for you. She is just the type of person who is concerned for all people,” Hamilton said.
At her church, Daly has many adopted daughters and sons, including the Rev. Artee Davis, who served as the event’s keynote speaker.
“She has been with me in the ups of my life and in the downs, always to encourage me … the appreciation that we show her today will carry her through the good times and the difficult times,” Davis said.
Daly said she often is regarded as an adopted mother, primarily because she encourages people.
“I encourage people as much as I can. When they fall down, I lift them up,” she said.
At Daly’s day of appreciation, as she basked in the love and admiration of everyone present, the matriarchal figure was given a letter of appreciation, a love offering, a gift bag and a special book that detailed her life.
“I have really enjoyed today,” Daly said. “I want to thank all of my friends who came here to be a part of the day and celebrate with me.”