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Vada Cameron celebrates 100th birthday

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — Vada Marie Peacock Byars Cameron has lived a modest life in China Grove, raising nine children. Five of them joined the 100-year-old on Sunday for a special service and luncheon at South China Grove Baptist Church.

The Healing Springs native recalled attending a one-room school at Pine Rock Church, later renamed Mountain View Baptist Church — a church that she attended with her parents, Mary Elizabeth Rosanna “Rosie” Carrick and Thomas Jefferson “Jeff” Peacock.

She would eventually move with her family to Lexington and attended Lexington High School with her sister. Cameron graduated in 1938 in the 11th grade at a time when there was no 12th grade, she said.

Cameron’s children — Mack William Byars, Judy Priscilla Cameron Campbell, Brenda Kay Cameron, James Nathan Cameron, Garry Wayne Cameron, Kathy Marie Southard, William Douglas Cameron, Johnny Jeffrey Cameron, and Nancy Jane Wilhelm — all live in North Carolina.

She was joined Sunday by Brenda, Garry, Nathan, Johnny and Doug as well as Doug’s wife, Terry.

“They were pretty good kids. They did get into mischief,” Cameron said.

Raising nine children often meant that Cameron was chasing behind one or more little ones. Sometimes Nathan would “run away” with his siblings to play, he said.

Before having children, Cameron briefly worked in a Lexington cotton mill, where she made 25 cents an hour. She worked just over a year before her first husband, Mack Byars, died.

She recalled that her 25-cent-an- hour paycheck bought her an $80 bedroom suite that she still has. The family moved more than a dozen times growing up until the Camerons bought a house. She later became a homemaker.

In 1981, the family moved to China Grove, and in 1991, Cameron joined South China Grove Baptist Church.

The family typically gathers together for the holidays, particularly Christmas. This past weekend, they gathered to celebrate not only Thanksgiving but Cameron’s birthday.

Over the weekend, 80 of Cameron’s family members gathered, most of whom were immediate family members, said Terry Cameron.

Cameron has 26 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren, with one great-great-grandchild due in April.

The secret to her long life is likely the most often asked question for the centenarian. Her response is that she prayed for it.

“I prayed, ‘God, let me live this long,'” she said.

Cameron’s children attribute her long life to an amalgamation of life scenarios.

Cameron is a 15-year survivor of colon cancer. She’s had two hip replacements. She takes few medicines.

“By medicines, she means, Tylenol and Advil,” said son Johnny Cameron.

Cameron wakes up most mornings to cook breakfast for herself and Brenda, a meal of two scrambled eggs, sausage, toast and Cheerwine, Johnny revealed.

“I tried to live the best life I can and thank God,” Cameron said.

The idea for the recognition service and reception came from Sunday school teacher Bonita Bloodworth.

“She is just so special and so positive. She’s just delightful,” Bloodworth said.

She said Cameron is a big part of the Sunday school class and its members wanted to honor her.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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