101 years young, ‘Sweet Essie’ still enjoys every minute

January 9, 2010 7:50:00 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Essie Mathews was born in Columbus 101 years ago, and never left. On Jan. 7, the joyful resident the staff at Vineyard Court Nursing Center calls "Sweet Essie" celebrated her birthday by indulging in one of her favorite desserts -- pound cake and ice cream. 


"She''s lived here for almost three years and has captured the hearts of many employees and visitors that have crossed her path," said Stephanie Williams, the center''s activities director. 


Mathews and her late husband, Willie "Bill" Mathews of Columbus, were married for about 45 years, said Mattie Cox of Columbus. She and her husband, John Cox, "Mrs. Essie''s" second cousin, are the centenarian''s closest relatives. The Mathews'' only child, a daughter, passed away many years ago. 


"She loved to cook; that was her hobby," Mattie said. "She liked to bake cakes and give them away on people''s birthdays. And she loves the pastor and her church, Stephens Chapel." 


Of her birthday party, the celebrant said, "I enjoyed every minute of it; I just thought it was a beautiful blessing from the Lord." 


While Mathews is the eldest resident at the nursing facility, she is well-known for something even more notable. 


"Not only is she recognized by her name, but her gleaming smile always seems to live the days here," said Williams.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.