Mayor, church and community honor Hickory woman on her 100th birthday

Hickory community celebrates woman's 100th birthday

HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) - Family, friends, first responders and even the mayor honored a Hickory woman on her 100th birthday Wednesday.

Harriett Bannon’s family live out of town, so most weren’t able to be with her on the momentous occasion. So the family coordinated with Harriett’s church to give her a big celebration.

A car parade, escorted by officers with the Hickory Police Department, went through her neighborhood to wish Harriett a happy birthday.

Mayor Hank Guess even got involved, presenting a proclamation to the birthday girl declaring April 22 as Harriett Bannon Day in the City of Hickory.

And this is just the latest thing Harriett has been a part of in her very eventful 100 years.

She was born in Ridgecrest, NC, on April 22, 1920. Her father was a telegrapher with the railroad and her mother, a musician, worked in the home. The family moved frequently around western North Carolina.

Harriett graduated from Sylva High School and enrolled in Ashville Normal Teacher’s college. She later transferred to Lenoir Rhyne College in Hickory where she graduated. She went on to teach elementary school in Icard, Startown, and Hickory.

She met her husband, Robert Henry Bannon, during World War II. The couple’s only child, Robert, was born in 1944 while Bob was fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war, the family lived in Hickory until 1954 when they decided to relocate to Miami, Florida. Bob took a job as Deputy Sherriff and Harriett became a sixth grade teacher at North Beach Elementary School.

Harriett was named Assistant Principal at Flamingo Elementary School in 1958 and shortly thereafter became Principal of Treasure Island Elementary School. Later, Harriett served as Principal of Ojus Elementary School.

The couple retired to Hendry County, Fla., but returned to Hickory in the mid-80s as Bob’s health failed. Bob died in 1989, and Harriett has continued to live in Hickory to this day.

Harriett has been active in Hickory since her return. Her accomplishments include:

  • Past President of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Executive Club,
  • Mmember of two book clubs,
  • Sunday school teacher at First United Methodist Church of Hickory

Harriett was appointed by President George W Bush to serve on the White House Council on Aging and served in a similar role in Catawba County.

In addition to her son Robert and his wife, Judy, Harriett has five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

At 100 years old she is still driving, her family says, and her license doesn’t expire until 2023.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Harriet.

She says she was surprised by the outpouring but the people who came to honor her said she deserved it.

“She is an inspiration to all, “ said Carolyn Offill who was among those driving by in decorated cars.

Harriet said she has lived to be 100 because of all the love she felt along the way. This day was no different, she said, after seeing the outpouring on her birthday.

“It makes me feel like the luckiest person in this world,“ she said.

She’s already looking forward to next year’s birthday celebration.

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