It was a hot spring afternoon when friends and family gathered to celebrate the 100th birthday of Nancy Way Bady. Bady, or “Aunt Bea” as most knew her, was born in the small town of Midway, on May 24, 1919, to Henry and Susanna Singleton-Way. The eldest of the couple’s five children, Bady took over her mother’s position as caregiver when she was 13 after the woman’s tragic death.
As a young adult, Bady moved to Callahan, Fla., where she would meet and marry husband Clarence Bady. Clarence would be described by his nieces and nephews as being a “cool and laid-back uncle,” lovingly referring to his wife as “mama” while she called him “baby.” The couple would live in Callahan for 75 years.
Bady is a kind woman who has always been deeply involved in her community, according to relatives. As a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church, she is Mother of the Church, as well as a stewardess, a member of the senior choir, and the occasional driver for her Christian sisters to church, they said. She was more than willing to feed hungry neighbors, whether they have money or not. Of course this would come with a firm telling-off before Bady let you eat, relatives commented. A stern lecture may actually be worth it to have Bady’s famous chitterlings, fried chicken, mac and cheese, and her “mouth-watering sweet potato pie,” according to family members.
While Bady and her husband didn’t have children of their own, they raised their two nephews, Henry and Howard Scott, and often watched over their other nieces and nephews.
They, alongside numerous friends, gathered Sunday, May 26 to celebrate the centurion’s birthday. While originally expecting 150 guests, the party host(s) was pleasantly surprised when over 200 guests arrived.
Though catering struggled to keep everyone happy and fed, everyone at the party was reported to have had a wonderful time, Bady included. She posed for photos with relatives and listened to jazz music all while wearing a lovely, and appropriate, tiara.
Recently, Mayor Marty Fontes of Callahan, Fla., proclaimed May 26 as “Nancy Bady Day” within the community in recognition of both her impressive age and of her many life accomplishments, from being the rock of her family, to being the head cook of landmark restaurant, Rainbow Restaurant, and inspiring students while working at West Nassau High School.
Bady clearly inspired her niece, author Vella Mbenna, who will be reading excerpts from her book, Muddy Roads, Blue Skies, at the Hinesville Public Library on June 13 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.