Liberty County Commissioner Gary Gilliard and Best Care nursing staff surprised the Rev. Ollie Howard with a 98th birthday celebration June 28 at the Best Care corporate office on West General Screven Way in Hinesville. Best Care CEO Edna Walthour said some of the young people from her church helped with the cake, decorations, picture taking and escorting Howard to the gathering.
Howard, a retired associate pastor from St. Peter’s AME Church, was born in Clayton, Ala., but has been a Liberty County resident for many years, according to her daughter, Cherry Howard of Houston, Texas.
“She loved it,” Cherry Howard said of her mother’s reaction to the surprise party.
“Mama came to Liberty County in the 1940s,” the younger Howard said. “Her uncle, Uncle Tyson, and she and her sister came from Clayton, Ala., as little girls. Back in the day it (the community) used to be McIntosh.”
Cherry Howard said her mother has served in the ministry for years, and often took her daughters with her to tent meetings across southeast Georgia, including in Waycross and Savannah.
“Mama used to work at Bradwell Institute as a custodian,” Cherry Howard said. “And she used to help in the kitchen at Bradwell. She helped with the homeless down at the shelter. She donated her time to help a lot of people. She dedicated her life to God. She still goes to church, if she can get somebody to take her.”
Cherry Howard said her mother would even have people come to her home, feed them and help with other necessities, when she could. She would minister to them while sitting in her yard.
The Rev. Hermon Scott, president of the emancipation committee, said he knows the Rev. Ollie Howard from her devoted attendance at the emancipation proclamation service each year.
“She comes every year to our program on Jan. 1,” Scott said. “Recently, she got so energized about our college scholarship program, she began saving on Jan. 1.” Scott said she saved coins in a jar throughout the year, and brought the contents of the jar as a donation to the college scholarship fund.
Rev. Howard sets a valuable example of supporting education, Scott said.