Local woman who grew up on SC plantation celebrates 103rd birthday

Local woman who grew up on SC plantation celebrates 103rd birthday

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — It doesn’t take long to realize Gussie Dennis is the star of her own show -- and at 103, she’s earned it.

“God gave me a light and I’m going to let it shine,” she told Channel 9 on Monday.

Over the weekend, friends and family celebrated her birthday in person, in the car, and by video chat. They adorned her with flowers and sang her praises.

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Amid the celebration of another milestone birthday, Dennis said she is certain to reflect on the humble beginnings that brought her to where she is now.

Born on Aug. 10, 1917, her parents raised her on a plantation house in Greenville, South Carolina.

“We didn’t have running hot water,” she said.

Gussie Dennis
Gussie Dennis (WSOC)

She picked cotton from a young age, taught school, worked in a hospital and even modeled to raise money for her local church while she zig-zagged across states.

Dennis said it was no easy task for a young black woman of the time, but she did it with confidence and style.

“If you could do it, I could do it too,” she said. “I had a determination to do whatever I wanted to do.”

Dennis eventually got married and had children of her own. As the family tree grows, she now passes on the life lessons she’s learned along the way.

“She definitely tells me always to be patient and to be wise when making my decisions,” said her grandson, Tai Taylor.

Dennis said her best advice for living a long and healthy life is to treat others well and to eat your vegetables. And true to form, her biggest birthday wish is for everyone to experience her unending joy.

“I wish God blesses you all like he been blessing me,” she said.

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