Published February 1, 2007
FAYETTEVILLE — When Ruby Huckaby first became familiar with The Christian Index as an eight-year-old, the world was a little different.
Charlie Chaplain was about to release his first film, Making a Living. World War I would soon begin. The Braves had just won the World Series – albeit the team from Boston in a 4-0 sweep over the Philadelphia Athletics.
One Southern Baptist legend, Lottie Moon, had died only two years earlier while another, Billy Graham, was still four years away from being born.
The combined populations of all counties in the metro area were still tens of thousands less than the number of people living in the city of Atlanta today.
It was around 1914 that Huckaby recalls her great-grandmother, Margaret Buckner, first took that month’s issue of The Index and read the children’s section to her. Since turning 101 on Dec. 27, she says she still loves to read about the latest news concerning Georgia Baptists.
“I like to read it because I’m informed about things I wouldn’t know about otherwise,” she said. “I like everything about it.”
“Well, one thing I don’t like is how it falls apart when I pick it up,” she laughed. “When I get it I staple it so it stays together.”
As a child a short walk to her grandmother’s house, where her great-grandmother lived, resulted in a lifetime of memories.
“Her reading those stories to me are just as plain to me as they were then,” said Huckaby.
“I looked forward to it every month. I can still see that room where she read to me – small with just a few pieces of furniture.”
After moving to Atlanta to live with her aunt, Huckaby began attending Gordon Street Baptist Church. She met and married J. Shelton Huckaby before the couple attended Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta, where they would live the first 25 years of their marriage. They then moved to Stockbridge and joined First Baptist Church.
After her husband died, Huckaby moved to Fayetteville to be closer to the couple’s son, Tom. She’s remained in the area as a member of First Baptist Fayetteville for 28 years.
Her son and friends claim she’s the most active centenarian they’ve ever known – one who still does her own grocery shopping. She attends Sunday School each week and keeps up with the members in her class, kids in their 90s still learning the ropes in life.
“I don’t think of her as being 101 years old,” said friend Eleanor Nagle, a member of First Baptist. “She reads The Index from front to back. She can tell you about the things that happened long ago.”
Tom Huckaby, father of two sons and three granddaughters, credits his mother with helping make him the man he is today.
“When Sunday morning came, there wasn’t anything on our agenda but Sunday School and church,” he said the morning after his mother’s birthday dinner (she had fried oysters).
“We went as a family. As the years went on, I realized the mold had been set and it was much easier to follow that lead.”
“Her faith keeps her going,” added friend Sue Adams, First Fayetteville’s office manager for 33 years before retiring in 2003. “It’s an inspiration for me to see someone who’s lived all these years and still attends church on a regular basis.
Glen Stringham, pastor to seniors at First Fayetteville, testified that Huckaby’s age lies in stark contrast to her spirit.
“She’s one of the neatest ladies you’ll ever meet,” he said. “She has the heart and mind of a young person. Spend time with her and you’ll find quickly that her heart is bigger than the 101 years she’s lived.”? While Stringham praises Huckaby for her role as a mentor at church and her chocolate pies (“Best you’ll ever have”), the senior-est member of First Fayetteville credits her son for his support.
“I very seldom miss a Sunday. He and my daughter-in-law are just four doors down from me. Any meetings I want to go to they make sure I get there.”
Like anyone else, Huckaby has her favorite parts of the paper.
“I like to see who’s retired and who’s going to another church,” she said. “I like reading Dr. Dobson’s column and how to work with children. I like to hear the stories about what Georgia Baptists are doing.
“If only I could get it stapled.”
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