By Joan Frances
She’s one in a million. Well maybe not a million but one of 70,490. This number represents the elite group of people in the United States that are beyond 100 years of age. There is only one Centenarian alive per 4,400 people, and Lillian Cox is one of them. Mayor Charlie Jessup declared February 22nd Lillian Cox Day in Meadows Place, Lillian turned 105. He presented her with a Proclamation and Congressman Pete Olson was present to honor her. Amazing is her length of life, even more admirable is the journey she has traveled.
Lillian Todd Cox was born in 1907 in Quincy Florida to Robert and Jennie Todd. She had one older sister, Melba. She graduated from Gadsden County High School and attended Florida State College for Women, where she was a member of Sigma Sigma Sorority. She met her husband; the story goes, through her sister who was dating him. He said later that he was waiting for Lillian to be old enough to date.
They married on November 4, 1925 and moved to Tallahassee Florida in 1939. It was here she gave birth to her daughter, Carolyne. She is most proud of her family and spending time with her three grandchildren and three great grandchildren. They call her Nana or Grandmother. She enjoyed working in her garden where she grows vegetables and flowers, home decorating, and visiting with her family and many friends.
Lillian worked in retail for 30 years and was a co-owner of Nelly’s shop on College Avenue at first, then owned and operated Lillian’s in 1957. Her store was unique because of her “personal touch”. Her clientele considered being high fashion, Lillian gave special attention to detail, and her customers were treated individually and always came back. She retired and sold the store in 1976.
She set the standard for women to be business owners and the bar high in retail personalized service. She was recognized in her community in 1973 and was honored by the American Business Women’s Association as the “Woman of the Year.” Lillian was very active in her community. A member of First Baptist Church and many clubs and organizations and a life member of the Tallahassee Woman’s club for the past 60 years.
In April 2008, Mrs. Cox was interviewed by Barbara Walters in New York on a television special “Live to be 150.” They talked about what was the secret to a long life. In her interview she said to stay active, she only eats two meals a day and drinks water straight from the tap and no ice. She was also featured on Inside Edition for being the oldest licensed driver in Florida. When asked how many tickets she has been given she replied, “One or two but I talked myself out of most of them”. She is a beautiful woman with a great personality and is a skilled negotiator, always looking for the best bargain.
Wednesday was a great day for Lillian Cox and her family and 40 friends. They shared stories and reflected on how short life is, even for someone 105 years old. She is a living example of what life can give to you and how to make the most of every day, no matter what your age; it is what you make of it.
Lillian Cox danced to the song, “Blue Berry Hill”.