Girdine Legree was born Sept. 15, 1915, in Cameron.
Her early education began at the Mount Carmel one-room schoolhouse. The only source of heat was a fireplace, to keep warm after those long, cold miles of walking to school.
She joined Brown Chapel AME Church as a child but was not able to get to church every Sunday. Legree later moved her membership to St. Peter AME Church,
Legree remembers how she and her mother had to walk to church every Sunday morning, due to not having a car. This walk to church would entail a long stroll through “The Lane.” The Lane was a dirt road that had pecan trees lining each side. There were also plum and persimmon trees.
She married the late Russell Simmons. To this union, there were two children born: Gertie M. Jackson and Janie L. Dix. The family lived happily until God called him home.
After the death of her husband, Legree journeyed to New York City. While there, she worked in the homes of numerous families.
She eventually decided to relocate back to Cameron to care for her sick mother. Her daughter, Gertie Mae, was helpful while her grandmother was ill. Girdine cared for her mother until she expired.
Then Legree remarried, to the late Julius M. Legree. There were three children born: Edward, Julius and Margaret. Mr. Legree had a daughter from his previous marriage, Harriette Legree.
“This child became mine also,” Legree said.
“We were together for many years. Then God decided to call him home to rest. Three of my children preceded him in death,” she said.
Legree was an active member of St. Peter AME Church and loved working in it. She was the sole person in charge of the communion cloth for the First Sunday. They were washed white as snow, starched and ironed to perfection. She took pride in it and loved preparing them. She was a member of several auxiliaries: a missionary, stewardess and treasurer of the gospel choir. She still attends there today. Her wish is to be able to return to church when this pandemic is over. She realizes that, “You can’t hurry God, we just got to wait.”
Legree had various jobs over the years – domestic, picking cotton and peaches, as a senior companion at the Gressette Center and as a caregiver for many individuals in her community.
But her first job was making sure that her children, grandchildren and great-grands were taken care of.
Today, she said she feels blessed to be 105 years old and thanks God for her children and all of her family and relatives.
Her philosophy is, “Trust God, do the best you can and don’t worry about things you have no control of.”
She resides with her daughter, Margaret, in Denmark, and is still enjoying a blessed life.