Happy (Big) Birthday

Erma Killion Meador laughs as she tackles, one by one, the candles on her birthday cake at Arabella of Kilgore in October 2018, celebrating her 108th. Meador turns 109 today.

A Kilgore resident is preparing to mark a very special milestone: her 109th birthday.

Today, Erma Killion Meador turns 109. Meador, who lives at Arabella of Kilgore retirement community, will enjoy a special celebration.

“She’s got family, friends and residents coming. (The party) will be held in the activity room here at Arabella in Kilgore,” said Lanea Cope, Arabella’s activity director.

Meador was born Oct. 9, 1910 in Texarkana and grew up in Mexia before moving to Jacksonville where she married M.O. “Sonny” Masters in 1927. They opened Props Bakery in Jacksonville in the early 1930s. When Masters died, Meador continued working, supporting herself by selling Elizabeth Arden cosmetics.

She moved to both San Antonio and Tyler before marrying F.M. “Buster” Meador in 1950 and returning to Jacksonville after two years in Tyler.

There, the couple attended Central Baptist Church, where Erma taught Sunday school for more than two decades. The couple had no children but had six godchildren. Erma also spent time with the Pink Lady volunteer organization, was a member of the Medical Auxiliary, Lioness Club and was an officer in the Crippled Children Organization.

She also sold women’s fashions in Sybil’s dress shop and sold cosmetics at Merle Norman.

She retired at the age of 88.

After breaking her hip in 2014 at the age of 103, Meador made a full, speedy recovery to the amazement of doctors and nurses. It was at that time she moved into the Arabella facility to continue her recovery and to be closer to one of her godchildren, Nina Verheyden.

Last year, Meador was asked to be part of a centenarian research study by researchers at Boston University. They took samples of her blood and asked her to share facts about her life in the hopes of learning more about how people attain such a remarkable age.

According to Cope, Meador is a beloved resident of Arabella and is still sharp as a tack after more than a century of life.

“She’s an amazing lady. What’s really neat is she still has all of her facilities,” Cope said.

At Meador’s 108th birthday party in 2018, Cope said there was a “mini-miracle moment.” In 2017, Meador’s birthday wish was to meet Rev. Billy Graham. When he passed away in 2018, his niece got in touch with Arabella and Meador was able to meet Franklin Graham, son of the elder evangelist, during his visit to Longview Oct. 19, ten days after Meador’s birthday.

“I don’t think I could top that,” Cope said with a laugh. Still, the staff at Arabella plan to make Meador’s 109th birthday a memorable one.

The come-and-go birthday celebration will be held at 2 p.m. today at Arabella of Kilgore, located at 2103 Chandler St.

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