While the Baptist Messenger is celebrating its Centennial this year, one resident of the Baptist Village of Oklahoma City was already of school age when editor C.P. Stealey ran the first issue of the Messenger off the press on May 15, 1912.
Edna Dewey celebrates her 105th birthday on Feb. 8. That means she was born nine months before Oklahoma became a state on Nov. 16, 1907.
To help her celebrate her upcoming milestone, the Messenger staff thought it was time she had her own individual subscription to the state Baptist newsjournal. So, on Jan. 25, editor Brian Hobbs presented Edna with her own, individual subscription to the Baptist Messenger, along with an early birthday card from the Messenger staff.
Edna is an avid reader of the Messenger, having taken advantage of the Baptist Village’s copies. In the future, she will enjoy her own copies of the Messenger.
“I read the whole thing every week,” she said, adding, “I don’t really have a favorite section.”
Edna has lived at the Baptist Village since April 1999, moving recently to the Nursing Care Center from the Porter Assistance with Living Center.
She was born in Cohoors, S.D., a small community in the southeast part of that state on Feb. 8, 1907. She was the middle child in a family of nine children. Before she started school, Edna’s family moved from South Dakota to Minnesota.
When she was nine years old, Edna’s mother passed away, leaving her father as the sole provider for the nine children. This proved to be a more daunting task than he could handle, and he decided to contact Edna’s half-sister in Iowa, who then moved to Minnesota to help raise the younger siblings.
Edna attended grade school in Pequot, Minn., and graduated high school in nearby Brainerd, both in central Minnesota. By that time, Edna’s sister had graduated college and encouraged her to come back to school. She agreed, and Edna graduated with a degree in home economics. After college, Edna became a teacher, instructing students in small, one-room rural schools.
Edna met her future husband, Clifford Dewey, while at college in Iowa. They married in 1940, and Clifford served in the pastorate. Five years later, the Deweys traveled to India, where they would spend the next 32 years serving as missionaries. Their son, Frank, was born in India.
Edna recalls that living in India was quite an experience. The country was under English rule at the time, and required students to learn the English language prior to enrolling in college. Throughout their tenure in India, Edna attests to her pleasure in the eagerness of the students there to enrich and better their lives.
Included in the 32 years of mission work were four one-year furloughs back to the United States. During these times, Clifford and Edna toured the country, sharing their testimony of what God had done through their mission work and how it had impacted their lives.
Edna is slowed a bit these days by weak knees, which hampers her movement. But, up until just a few months ago, she could be seen refilling the salt and pepper shakers and folding napkins on the tables in the dining room of the care center, said Chaplain Chris Finley.
As the days go by, Edna said she continues to read her Bible—covering three chapters a day. She reads through her New International Version Bible every year. Her favorite book is Psalms.
Looking toward Feb. 8, someone asked Edna if she was going to have a big party. She shrugged her shoulders, smiled and recalled saying, “No, I’m tired of having parties!”
God has blessed her with a granddaughter, a grandson and six great-grandchildren. Edna has spent a third of her life in the mission field, and her entire life giving to others. She continues to give today with her grace and a heart full of gratitude.
Jason Davis is development and public relations specialist with Baptist Village Communities.
Bob Nigh is managing editor of the Baptist Messenger.