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108 & COUNTING: Comer joins exclusive club

By Shannon Beamon
Staff Writer
They stopped putting candles on Grace Comer’s birthday cake a while ago.
First of all, finding enough candles for a 108-year-old woman isn’t easy. And secondly, lighting them all might set off a fire alarm.
“She’s the oldest person I know of,” daughter Pat Morgan, 81, said.
In fact, she might also be the oldest person anyone in Stanly — or the state — knows of, either.
According to the Gerontology Research Group — an organization that specializes in documenting long-lived individuals — there are only 40 documented adults over the age of 109 living in the world.
Of those 40 individuals, only seven live in the U.S., none in North Carolina.
“She is a treasure,” Morgan said. “We’re very blessed to have her.”
To celebrate that, all five generations of Comer’s family gathered at Trinity Place on Saturday. As Comer watched them cut the birthday cake, her great-great-granddaughter sat in her lap.
The meal was particularly appropriate, her kids noted. Their mother has always loved feeding people.
“Growing up we always had the biggest Sunday dinners,” son Morgan, 83, said. “That was her joy, to cook for her family.”
She got the chance to cook for more than just her family, as well.
Raised off Stony Gap Road and then married to the Rev. Ernest Comer — a minister for the Church of God — she played hostess to congregations in Moore and Guilford counties.
“She played the piano for church services, too,” Morgan said. “She still plays today.”
Her sons — Don, 83, and Darrell, 79 — added that their mother used to tell them tales about early life in Stanly, too. About plowing with a mule on the farm, or riding a horse and buggy into town.
“She lived here before they put in the dams (on the Pee Dee River) you know,” Don Comer said. “They crossed on a ferry. There was a rope across the river and they’d pull themselves across.”
That lifestyle kept her spry well into adulthood. Some of the family’s favorite memories of Comer came from camping trips and drives up into the mountains.
That fun-loving attitude didn’t keep her from keeping both kids and grandkids in line, though, the family joked.
“She knew how to set you straight,” Darrell said. “If you heard your whole name, you knew you were in trouble then.”
So with that kind of strong will, perhaps they will have another candleless cake to eat next year, too.

Contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24, or shannon@stanlynewspress.com.