Rutherford County’s Eldest Resident Turns 107 Today

WGNS Radio, Murfreesboro, TN, June 19, 2018

Mary Soper was born in 1911 in Wayne County. Mary moved to Rutherford County in 1988.

To help put that time period into perspective, William Howard Taft was our U.S. president.  This same year Ronald Reagan was born as was Tennessee Williams and Lucille Ball.  And Middle Tennessee State University was formed in Murfreesboro, TN, as Middle TN Normal School that same year.

The Century Club of Rutherford County, hosted by Family Staffing Solutions Inc, began in 2012 and has honored just over 40 Centenarians.

Happy 107th birthday and congratulations to Mary Soper!  She has been a member of the Century Club of Rutherford County for 6 years and we are pleased to honor her as Rutherford County’s Eldest Resident!


Mary grew up on a 400 acre farm and was the youngest of 10 children.  Her mother passed away when she was 10 years old. Mary remembers in 1921 seeing her mother in a horse drawn hearse.  On the farm, they had pigs.  Family made sausage and stuffed it in flour sacks.  They could cure pork better than beef.  Eggs were 10 cents a dozen.

She attended a one room school house, with grades one though eight in the same room.  There would be two boys to fetch a bucket of spring water for all the children in a gallon cedar bucket and all students used the dipper.

Washing of hands did not have paper towels for wiping.  They would use their petty coats and there were no inside or outside toilets.

Mary would walk a mile & a half to school each day. 

Mary lived in Tennessee for 16 years and in 1927 moved to Akron, OH where she went to work for BF Goodrich.  The Great Depression began and Mary then moved back to Tennessee where she stayed until the Depression was over.

In 1932, Mary voted in her first election for Franklin D. Roosevelt for president. (At that time, voting age was 21 years old.)  Mary lived in the country town of Hohenwald TN, and they did not have electricity in their part of the county until the mid-1930’s after Roosevelt became president. TVA Power

Her first car was a 1921 Ford Touring Car that had curtains for rain protection.  It was a brand new $700 crank car.

After the Depression, she moved back to Akron OH, where she worked for May Company Department Store for 5 years. Mary also moved to Michigan where she met her husband, Barry Soper, in 1947, who worked for the Wyandotte, MI Post Office for 32 years and Mary then worked for Winkelman Brothers Department Store as a Fashion Coordinator.

Barry and Mary then retired to Spring Hill TN, in 1971, where Barry passed away from lung cancer.  They were married for 32 years. She moved to live with son, Richard, in Memphis and when he moved to Murfreesboro in 1988, Mary moved with him.

Mary had 3 sons. One son was a police officer, who passed away in 2012.  Two other sons, one of which live in Columbia TN, and is retired from AT&T and the other resides in Nashville and is a retired Pathologist Doctor.

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