Saturday was a special day for Johnnie Barfield Green as she celebrated her 105th birthday.
Mrs. Green – or as her friends and family refer to her now as Mrs. 105 – was honored Saturday afternoon during a celebration at the Meadowview Assisted Living Center in Smithfield.
The activity room was packed with well-wishers for a celebration that featured stories, laughter, and life lessons centered on the special Benson resident.
There was choir music, jazz saxophone, and remarks from several speakers including a message from Dr. Monotorom Williams with St. James Disciples Church.
Childhood stories from Jimmy Abdalla and memories from former postman Paul Ingram brought laughter. Mrs. Green’s great niece, Lind Warren also spoke.
A highlight of the celebration was 98 year-old Lina Mae Altman of Newton Grove who sang a special birthday song to Mrs. Green.
Mrs. Green was recognized with a proclamation from the Town of Benson — presented by Mayor Pro-Tem Casandra Stack. She was also recognized by officials from Four Oaks and received the “Key to the Town of Smithfield.”
Sitting at the front of the room, dressed in bright red with her signature sequined cap, Mrs. Green smiled and laughed along with all the stories and memories of her time as a business owner in Benson.
Mr. Abdalla recalled one of her shop policies from his childhood — turn in an empty soda bottle and receive one piece of candy.
“We went around picking up every bottle in Benson,” he said with a chuckle. “I don’t think I even knew she sold anything else but candy!”
Mr. Ingram remembered when he started his job as a mail carrier in Benson. “Everybody told me I had to go talk to Mrs. Johnnie and when I did I realized she already knew me! She knew my mother and father and my aunt, everybody!”
Dr. Williams perhaps put it best. “When you visit with Mrs. Green, when you sit down and talk to her — she will humble you,” he said, referring to her wisdom and calm demeanor having experienced so much of life for so long.
From Benson’s proclamation for Mrs. Green:
“Johnnie Barfield Green was born in Benson, North Carolina on February 24, 1913 and has resided in Benson all her life.
She was raised in a family of five boys and two girls. She owned a restaurant on West Harnett Street in Benson. She married Booker Green.
She is a lifetime member of St. James Disciples Church of Benson, and has been described, as a simple woman with great integrity, a humble and sweet spirit with work ethic of the highest order and on this day should be honored for 105 years on earth.
The Benson Museum Board of Directors honored her as the first honoree at the annual Black History Month Open House in 2012.”