Ain’t no stoppin’ Mrs. Lizzie Donald

Mrs. Lizzie Donald (middle) celebrated her 103rd birthday on Aug. 7 with her daughter, Frances Scott, (right) family members and about 200 of her closest friends.

By Karin Davis-Thompson, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — A raging pandemic, record unemployment and an unprecedented presidential race will make 2020 a year many will never forget. But for Lizzie Donald’s family, they will remember the second decade of the 21st century for an entirely different reason. For her family, it’s the year Mrs. Lizzie celebrated her 103rd birthday.   

The celebration, held on her birthday on Aug. 7, was as festive as any birthday could be during a global pandemic, with her family arranging a birthday parade to mark the occasion. 

Frances Scott, Mrs. Lizzie’s daughter, said at first, her mother was a bit concerned about how people would stay safe and celebrate her big day, but after a while, she began to look forward to it. Her family was also on hand to help her celebrate.

“She was so happy to see so many people take the time out of their busy schedules to drive by and acknowledge her birthday,” Scott said.  “She still gets joy out of thinking about the celebration, and it still makes her smile.”

Scott’s cousin, Everlina Brown, came up with the idea, and all of the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren were present or FaceTimed her on her special day. 

“Because of the pandemic, this is the first time her baby sister, Dora Cummings, was not there for the celebration.”

More than 75 cars lined up full of people ready to wish Mrs. Lizzie well.  Scott said if she had to guess, about 200 people drove by, and the family handed out at least 100 cupcakes and water bottles.

With several St. Petersburg police officers participating in the parade headed south on 21st Street South, Scott said her mother had the time of her life, watching everyone drive by and wish her well.

“She was excited to see the police cruisers leading the vehicles,” she said. “Everyone was smiling, waving, saying happy birthday, blowing their car horns and giving her gifts.”

Mrs. Lizzie, who has five children (including two who are deceased), nine grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren, loves to spend her day working on word searches and putting puzzles together. 

In her lifetime, she’s lived through two pandemics, Jim Crow, the evolution of the telephone and air travel, the invention of the television, cell phones, computers and the internet. However, there are two things she never thought she would witness: the election of the first African-American president of the United States and now a Black woman as vice-president-elect.

Born Aug. 7, 1917, in a small town in Mississippi called Lake Cormorant to Manzy and Ada Alexander, she has nine siblings, all raised on a farm. And at 103, Mrs. Lizzie still talks about her childhood and loves to reminisce. 

“Because she was the oldest, her mother and father told her siblings that they had to do what she told them to do, even if they didn’t want to,” Scott stated. “She enjoyed helping her mother with household chores, including cleaning and cooking. She liked decorating the house and making it pretty.”

Scott said she knows how blessed she is to have a mother that has lived such a long, full life with vivid memories that she can still share with family and friends. 

“It feels fantastic and amazing to have a mother that is still living and at 103 years old and is still in her sound mind,” she stated. “She has been a loyal Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, daughter, sister, niece, cousin and friend. No matter what the problem is, small or big, she is there to talk our walk us through it.”

To reach Karin Davis-Thompson, email kdavis-thompson@theweeklychallenger.com

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