Aleta Williams celebrated her 90th birthday day with family and friends this past weekend.
New Glasgow – So, last Saturday was a bit stressful.
Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with my day job, but rather my volunteer time on the local female hockey board.
It’s tryout time so everyone is tense and questioning every move that is being made. My mind was focused on 140 girls, one of whom is my own, who were vying for spots on teams.
But in the middle of the day, I found peace. I walked out of the Pictou County Wellness Centre and headed towards Second United Baptist Church in New Glasgow to pay homage to an old friend and fellow reporter.
As I approached the church on Washington Street, the tension in my shoulders started to leave me as soon as the singing and piano music coming from inside reached my ear drums.
As I sat down in a church pew with some former and current co-workers, I looked across the floor and found the birthday girl – 90-year-old Aleta Williams.
Immediately, I smiled to myself and remarked that she looked like a real queen for the day. She was wearing a grey coloured dress and jacket and a beautiful, fancy hat that looked like it came straight from Buckingham Palace.
I watched her sing and clap as her children sang hymns in the front of the church. Anytime you are with Aleta and family, you can guarantee that music will be part of the program, but on this particular day, it was more joyful than ever before.
Near the end, Aleta joined her children for a final hymn and then shared a few words herself. She named off her family members and thanked everyone for coming to her birthday party, all the while smiling and laughing with her family.
As I listened to her children sing, and saw her smile, my own inner strength was rejuvenated. Aleta was always someone who could bring calm to any situation and even though I haven’t seen her in a few years, her presence felt the same as it did 20 years ago.
When I first started working at The Evening News, she greeted me with a smile and filled me in on her family’s latest news as if I had grown up with them. Every time, she came into the office, she spoke to everyone by name, asked about their families and spoke of her own.
She started here as a reporter, became family editor and is best known for writing her Girl Friday column about everyday people in Pictou County who make a difference in others lives. She retired from The News, but came back to write again as a freelance columnist in the 1990s.
She and I shared many a Saturday nights working side by side at our computers, trying to meet deadline, snacking on food and sharing stories.
I have always admired Aleta’s strong sense of faith and how it gave her strength in even the darkest of times. She has experienced tragedy, but she accepted it and moved on with her life. She relishes the good times and never dwells in the bad.
She played the organ for her church and many others over the years and was made an honorary member of the Men’s Brotherhood of Second United Baptist.
Her bond with her church and her community was evident on Sunday. The small church hall was packed with well-wishers and special greetings from both the Town of New Glasgow and the province.
She not only looked like a queen for the day, but she was also treated like one. It was a well-deserved tribute to a woman who has served her community, church and our readers well.
Sueann Musick is a reporter/ community editor with The News. She has been reporting on community events for the past 20 years.