In honor of Sarah Winston’s 100th birthday on Nov. 4, members of Mt. Garland Baptist Church hope to send her 100 birthday cards.
Winston hasn’t attended church regularly since her move five years ago to English Meadows, the retirement home in the town of Louisa. But she is the church mother, the title given to the oldest woman member of the church, and fellow members wanted to mark her birthday in style.
Besides birthday cards, the church ordered a blanket for Winston with an image of the building on it, said Towanda Cosby, a church member.
Winston lived most of her life in Bumpass and always attended Mt. Garland, where she was baptized around 1930.
Besides church mother, she has served as missionary and deaconess and was in the choir, Cosby said.
Winston recalled going to church when she was young in an interview with the Louisa County Historical Society for their recent Many Voices, One Decade project.
“We always went to church and Sunday school,” she said. “My mother and father drove in the horse and buggy, and we kids walked to church.”
After studying education at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville and Virginia State University, she returned to Louisa County to teach in the public schools.
“At home was where I wanted to be,” she said. “I never thought about teaching anywhere else.”
She taught at Mt. Olivet, Mt. Garland and Mineral schools and Louisa Intermediate School. She liked teaching fourth and fifth-graders best, and her favorite subject was social studies.
For much of Winston’s career, the public schools were segregated by race. She continued to teach through the integration period in the 1960s and early 1970s.
“The Black schools were understaffed and in poor condition, and the Black kids had to buy their books,” she said. “All that changed with integration. I have good memories of us working together during that time.”
Winston was married for 34 years to the late Henry Winston. She does not have children, but she has nephews who come to see her often.
“I’m just proud to see my birthday coming, and I will continue to serve the Man above,” she said.