VACAVILLE — When Isadora Norwood was born on a small farm in Brooksville, Miss., on April 17, 1914, only four months before the outbreak of World War I, no one, especially in the segregated South, thought a black man would become president.
On Thursday, the 100-year-old matriarch of the Norwood family, who everybody called Mother Norwood, got a letter of congratulations from Barack Obama, America’s first black president, praising Norwood’s centennial celebration.
“She was real strict and did a good job of raising us up,” said Pearlean Fox, one of the eight children Isadora Norwood raised while working as domestic at Mississippi State University in Starkville.
Daughter Flora Eubanks said that her mother was a good Christian woman who “loved the Lord and always went to church.”
Fox and Eubanks were two of more than 60 relatives who traveled from as far away as Atlanta to Shiloh Baptist Church in Vacaville to celebrate Isadora Norwood’s birthday with cake, music provided by one of her great-granddaughters, and lots and lots of photos of family members clustered around Mother Norwood as she reclined in her comfortable chair.
Along with a letter from Obama, Isadora Norwood received a letter of congratulations from California Gov. Jerry Brown.
Not one to be left out of new media, Norwood even has a Facebook page by her family to share her 100th birthday with those relatives who were unable to make the trip here.
That was a considerable number, because more than 100 relatives showed up 10 years ago for her 90th birthday party when she still lived in Starkville, including one brother and two sisters.
After getting married at 18 years old and moving to Starkville, Mother Norwood spent 32 years with Mississippi State University. She only moved out to Fairfield in 2006 to be cared for by family members who live here.
She didn’t quit with raising her own children and took a few of her grandchildren under her protective wing, such as grandson Edward Norwood, who remembered that “she treated me like she was my own mom.”
More than once, Edward Norwood said he would accompany his grandmother to Mississippi State University during winter and spring breaks to help her ensure the school’s dormitories were clean.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.