“I made it,” said Inez Taylor as she celebrated her 100th birthday. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises)

Inez Taylor lived to see her 100th birthday, enjoying a special dinner on Wednesday afternoon with several of her children.

“I made it,” she said, raising her fists above her head. The gesture evoked laughter and amused grins from her children.

Inez Stigger was born in the Rossville area, east of Memphis near Moscow, Tennessee.

“I had nine brothers and no sisters,” Taylor said. 

Born on Sept. 15, 1921, young Inez was the daughter of the area’s midwife. 

“She was taught to be a midwife by my father’s mother, who was a midwife before her.”

Taylor attended the school that today is Fayette-Ware Comprehensive High School in Somerville, a part of Fayette County Public Schools. She played on the girls’ basketball team.

“I can remember back in those days, the school was a long building divided in half,” said Taylor. “You would have different classes all the way down on either side of the building. Back then, Mrs. Ware was the superintendent. She rode around in a horse and buggy. She drove a car years later.”

Taylor said students lived in a dormitory and rode the bus to school. 

“We would go home on the weekend,” said Taylor. “When the dormitory burned down, we had to find a place to stay so we could continue going to school.”

Taylor married a childhood friend, Willie Taylor. They grew up together and had been knowing each other for as long as she could remember.

“We moved into this house, and I have been living here since 1950,” said Taylor.

The family “home house” is located on Hale Avenue in the Binghampton community. 

Taylor had nine boys and two girls. That number included two sets of twins. One twin was stillborn, she said. That was a tremendous heartbreak, but Taylor’s children have brought her great joy.

“I would cook breakfast and dinner every day, and my husband would sit there at the head of the table,” Taylor said. “We would eat our meals all together. I raised my children just like I was raised.”

Taylor has a theory about why “the Lord has kept me here so long.”

“I just always tried to do right by people,” she said. “I was a homemaker, but I worked in between children. I would keep people’s children and wouldn’t charge them anything. If you just do right, I just believe right will follow you.”

Over the years, Taylor lived through viral outbreaks such as: diphtheria, polio, influenza, measles and the mumps.

“Naw, I never saw anything like this (COVID-19) pandemic,” Taylor said. 

“But God said He would raise up a nation that will obey Him. God will end this pandemic when He gets ready to end it. We just have to pray and ask the Lord to take care of us.”