Beatrice Cody was more than a little surprised when she was named McDuffie County's Senior Citizen of the Year earlier this month.
That's probably because her daughter didn't tell her why she was needed at a Board of Commissioners meeting. Little did she know, family members and public officials were there waiting to bestow her with the honor.
Beatrice Cody sits on the front porch of her home.
Jason B. Smith
"When we sat down, and they started reading 'Beatrice Cody...', I was so excited. I was surprised. My daughter fooled me down there," said Ms. Cody.
The surprise was certainly a good one for Ms. Cody, who is a retired midwife and nurse sitter and is credited with delivering 171 babies during her career. She received her nursing certificate in 1953, and her experience has been documented at the Medical College of Georgia and in the Journal of Transcultural Nursing. A member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Ms. Cody also has six children, 45 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren of her own.
The award is given every year to a senior citizen who's made significant contributions to the community. During the announcement of this year's award, Commission Chairman Charlie Newton noted that Ms. Cody "is a caring and sharing person always reaching out to help others; she is strong and committed to living a better life through serving God; she always answered the call when a family was in need of support.
"She's done a lot for our community and continues to," he added after the meeting. "She has been one of our best citizens."
Mr. Newton also said that Ms. Cody's service in the nursing profession is even more impressive taking into account the time in which she began.
"If you think about it, in the time she was doing that, it was difficult for a black lady to get into that position. You look at the years there, and it wasn't the friendliest environment," he said.
Ms. Cody had a difficult time keeping her emotions in check during the award presentation. As soon as Mr. Newton began reading the proclamation, her eyes filled with tears.
"I was so thankful," she said. "If they had asked me to say anything, I couldn't have said anything because I was crying all over the place....I just want to thank God, thank God."