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At 98, O’Dessie is a familiar sight, quilting at senior center

Reeling in the Years

O’Dessie Morris Sullivan is seen weekly at Humboldt Senior Citizens Center. The diligent quilter takes pride in still getting around and doing chores at 98!

by J.D. Pinkerton

O’Dessie “Dessie” Morris Sullivan is usually at the Senior Citizens Center in Humboldt twice a week quilting. She works diligently on it and is quite the expert at it. She prides herself in being single at age 98. She lives by herself and goes grocery shopping by herself.

She is the daughter of Mattie Dell. She died when Dessie was only five years old. Her father was Merle Morris. She does not know where her mother was buried but thinks her father was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery.

She attends Williams Chapel Church and says she’s been going there for many years. She was born in Mississippi and her family lived in Crockett County for a while then moved to Gibson County when she was 20 or 22.  They lived in Fruitvale in Crockett County too.

She said her Papa did the best he could trying to raise them after their Mama died. He married again. She had two brothers younger than her. She would tell them what to do and what not to do. It was her job to raise them.

“I had to wash, iron, cook and see after my younger brothers. I’m glad I had to cook because you know what, a lot of kids grow up now not knowing how to cook. I appreciate that. I had to cook whatever we had,” she recalled. “My dad was a farmer, he made molasses. We had to work at the sorghum mills.”

All she ever did was babysit to make money. She thanks the Lord that she never had a real job. She said the boy she admired so much was Leroy Sullivan. He was a member at Williams Chapel. She met him there and they had a box supper.

“He bought my box,” she said. “The way he talked nobody could cook but me. Anyway, he was so nice.”

She and Leroy Sullivan married in Arkansas. She doesn’t remember dates too well so she couldn’t say how long they were married or how long ago Leroy died.

She had only one daughter and the little girl died young before they could even name her.

“I thank the Lord for the times. Things could be better but things could be worse. Sometimes when I’m at home by myself walking around, I use my cane or I use the wall. I fell and they said I broke my hip but I don’t know. I stayed in the Jackson hospital for a week. The Lord gave me strength to move and I do my wash, ironing and housecleaning. That’s a blessing. A lot of people younger than me can’t hardly move,” Sullivan said.

“My grandmother on my mother’s side was slow, slow, slow! I would get so aggravated with her. I wanted her to go faster but she was doing what she could,” Sullivan said.

“I remember getting into bed with my Dad and his wife. I called her Big Fat Mama Mae. She would say ‘you better shut your mouth or I’ll make you get out of my bed’. “ At this point, the delightful Sullivan cackled in laughter.

“I used to have a tricycle that I would drive but I never rode a bicycle; I just didn’t think it had enough wheels.”

The longest trip she ever took was to Racine, Wisc.. At the time her brother was living there and she was visiting them.


  1. Laurel Gillespie on August 18, 2017 at 8:42 am

    What a sweet sweet person! A great example. I’d like to meet her.

    • Renada on August 21, 2017 at 7:17 am

      Yes this is my great great aunt

  2. Zandra Denwiddie on August 21, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Love you young lady ,that’s my TT

  3. Sonja cruse on August 22, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    I love my aunt dessie and she’s with my mom. May God continue his blessings!!!!!

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