Celebrating her 110th birthday last week, Mary Coffey sang and chatted with friends and family at Colonial Oaks Senior Living at First Colony in Sugar Land.
Coffey, a long time resident, enjoyed a birthday celebration rich in music, family history and faith.
At the time of her birth on March 20, 1909, William Taft was already sworn in as the 27th President of the United States, and construction had begun on the Panama Canal. Automobiles and electricity were in their infancy. She’s lived through two world wars, the Spanish Flu of 1918 and the Great Depression. At age 13, Coffey proudly drove her father’s Model T Ford. She can still recall being with her mother on a summer day in 1920, when they both heard for the first time women won the right to vote.
Coffey is now the second oldest person in Texas behind Maria de la Talamantes, who has her by 68 days.
Chatting with well wishers, Coffey welcomed a microphone given to her as she sang the first verse of her favorite song “How Great Thou Art.” Jim Connors, former Astros organist, accompanied her. In addition to singing her favorite song, she recited Bible verses from the book of Job from memory.
The outgoing supercentenarian has been living in Sugar Land since 1971, and was involved in not only the founding of Sugar Creek Baptist Church, but also the bible reading fellowship there.
Her love of singing about God, along with his teachings was evident throughout the ceremony. Coffey still teaches two Bible classes per week at Colonial Oaks Senior Living, with a little help from her son, David. Coffey’s daughter-in-law, Ida Glaser, believes Coffey’s long life has everything to do with attitude.
“She is a very strong minded lady. She believes she has a purpose here,” she said. “While she’s here she is going to live. There is always something which she wants to do. She tries to be as independent as she can be. She’ll always do what she can – she will never sit back.”
Gregarious and ebullient, it’s clear Coffey’s passion for life and her strong faith is the cornerstone to her secret for living.
“Well, my secret is I have lived close to God. I have always taught Bible studies here (at Colonial Oaks) and I love it. I’m just as happy as I ever was.”
John Rushing, pastor at Sugar Creek Baptist Church, was familiar with her longtime association with the church. He met Coffey personally when she turned 105.
“Though her life story spans over a century and her impact has literally been multiplied all over the globe, it is her deep, abiding faith that inspired uncountable lives. On her 100th birthday, her legacy only grew bigger!”