Later this month Lurline Estes will commemorate not one but two momentous occasions.
In a March 7 ceremony, the northwest Atlanta resident will have the prayer room at Charity Truth Tabernacle Church in Union City named after her, and three days later she will celebrate her 103rd birthday.
“It’s amazing,” her niece, Angel George, said. “It’s not every day you see anybody get to be 103, and she’s in her right mind. … She’s got some dementia, but most times she’s pretty on point. It’s just amazing.”
When asked by the Neighbor, with some help from her great niece, Roslyn Colvin, what the key to her longevity is, Estes said “oatmeal and coffee,” which she’s had regularly for breakfast for at least 70 years. She added “pinto beans and vegetables, peas and things, collard greens” have also helped her live a long life. When asked who she credits for her longevity, Estes simply said, “The Lord.”
Born in Chipley, which today is known as Pine Mountain, Estes is one of seven children and the only living sibling from that group of four girls and three boys. At an early age her family moved to nearby LaGrange, where she later met her future husband, Ernest, at her church, Ebenezer Baptist.
They were married for over 50 years until Ernest’s death in 1994. She had one son, Bobby, who died in the early 1990s.
Estes worked for a year in one of Atlanta’s first Black-owned banks. Before retiring around 2004, she also worked full-time as a domestic employee in various homes and part-time at Life of Georgia Insurance, Global Building Services and with her husband at the YMCA. Estes has lived in her house for 58 years.
“Up until about six years ago, she would be outside in that yard doing something – gardening, raking leaves, you name it,” George said.
Estes’ health has been good for most of her life, with the only problem being a blood clot about 20 years ago.
“That’s the only surgery I had,” she said.
Her granddaughter, Vanessa Patterson, added, “It’s a blessing she’s still here. … She’s the cream of everybody’s crop.”
Said Colvin, “Never a dull moment when she’s around.”
Today Estes has six grandchildren, two god grandsons, five great-grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren, plus nieces and nephews and other relatives.
In 2014 Estes joined Charity Truth, where she is an active member and serves on the mother board.
“I love to go to church,” she said when asked about the prayer room being named after her.
Three years ago, when Estes turned 100, she was treated to a birthday party at Paschal’s restaurant in Atlanta and was honored by Atlanta’s mayor, Georgia’s governor and Legislature and the president of the United States. Her family members said they hope she lives as long as possible, with Colvin half-joking they plan to have another big birthday celebration when she turns 110.
“I don’t know what we would do if anything should happen to her,” George said. “She’s the oldest and the only (local) living aunt I’ve got. I’ve got an aunt in Phoenix, but it’s not her sister. She’s the oldest (one) on this side of the family, the matriarch. We’d be devastated if something happened to her.”