Huntersville woman celebrates 106th birthday

She shared her secret to a long and healthy life.
Gussie Dennis shares her secret to living a long life.
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 6:22 PM EDT
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HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) — A Huntersville woman celebrated her 106th birthday surrounded by her family Thursday.

Gussie Dennis was born in 1917 in Greenville, S.C. One of nine siblings, she lived on a plantation with her parents as a sharecropper.

“I admire her strength,” daughter Denise Taylor said. “Her strength of mind gives me inspiration to go ahead and do what I have to do.”

Dennis lived on that planting farm for the first several decades of her life.

“Seven o’clock, he is at my house to pick us up to take to his field of whatever he had - corn, peas or whatever. And he’ll be in his two-horse wagon. He picked us up in the wagon, we go to his plantation and work all day. Work from seven o’clock to 12. Twelve o’clock the big bell rang at the boss’s house,” Dennis said. “We go back into the field. If we picking cotton, we pick cotton.”

After decades of backbreaking work, her family moved to Winston-Salem.

“That was a big change in my life,” Dennis said. “That was a big one, cause I was in the city. And we had [ceiling] lights and I think the lights were amazing to me!”

She worked in a hospital before earning her teaching certificate and taught for decades.

“I figured this; I can do anything any other woman does,” Dennis said.

She lived through the Civil Rights era when there were separate bathrooms and water fountains depending on ethnicity. Dennis said since then the world has changed for the better.

“[Nowadays] they love each other more and more. The black man has changed considerable, cuz he can go and do anything he able to do. Those things have changed since I was a little girl,” Dennis reflected.

When asked what her secret to a long and healthy life is, Dennis said, “you must put God in your life.

“Every time you do something successful, tell em that old woman told me - ‘put God in your life,’” she said.