BY LISA WARREN
Greene County's newest centenarian, Elizabeth "Lizzie" McAmis, marked her 100th birthday on Nov. 7.
She celebrated her milestone in grand style with two special events.
In addition to a family gathering on Nov. 7 at her Sulphur Springs home, Mrs. McAmis - known affectionately as "Ms. Lizzie" - was also honored with a birthday luncheon at her church on Nov. 13.
A sizeable crowd of her family and friends was on hand Sunday afternoon at Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church, following the morning worship services, to honor the congregation's oldest member.
It was a fitting place for Mrs. McAmis to celebrate her 100th birthday because she has been a member of Sulphur Springs Methodist Church practically all of her life.
In fact, Mrs. McAmis was born just down the road from the church grounds. Her father, Rufus Morrison, helped to build the former Sulphur Springs Church building, which was dedicated in 1912 when she was one year old.
Tragically, the 1912 church building was destroyed by fire on June 5, 2003. Within months of the fire, however, the current church building was completed and dedicated on March 4, 2004 - with Mrs. McAmis in attendance.
In an interview conducted with a Greeneville Sun reporter on the day of the new church building's dedication, Mrs. McAmis recalled that her half-brother, Bill, would bring her to the building site when the former church was being built by their father.
She was told by her family that she learned to sit up alone and play with wooden blocks while seated "on the ground" at the building site.
"I'd say I was inside the church when they dedicated it [in 1912]," Mrs. McAmis said.
She also noted in the 2004 Sun article that in her youth the Sulphur Springs Methodist Church had been a "one-room" church.
"All the Sunday School classes were in that one room," she said. "You'd think that would have been confusing, wouldn't you?"
She also recalled that both of her parents were Sunday School teachers at the original church.
In addition to helpng to construct the former Sulphur Springs Church, Mrs. McAmis' father also built the small white-frame house where she lives today.
"I was born in this house," she said on Friday during an interview at her home.
Mrs. McAmis moved back to her homeplace in 1984 following the death of her mother Josphine "Josie" Poe Morrison - who lived to be 99, just a few months shy of her 100th birthday.
"My mother always said that she wanted to live to be 100," Mrs. McAmis said.
Mrs. McAmis grew up in a household with three siblings. In addition to her older half-brother Bill, she had two younger siblings: a brother, Clarence, and a sister, Rebecca.
On Dec. 23, 1932, she became the wife of H. Glenn McAmis, who died in 1991.
Although the couple did not have biological children, they did raise three children as their own.
They took in two of her husband's siblings, Paul McAmis (who died last year) and Veta McAmis Babb (who died in 2002).
In addition, Mrs. McAmis and her husband adopted their son, Kenneth "Kenny," when he was just two and half years old from Holston United Methodist Home for Children.
"Paul picked me when they come to adopt a child," Kenny McAmis said fondly of his "adoptive" brother.
It was many years later that, as an adult, Kenny was reunited with his biological sister and eventually his biological mother. However, his "true mother" will always be Lizzie McAmis, he said.
In addition to her children, Mrs. McAmis has three grandchildren: Randall McAmis, Janie Ricker and Lisa Babb.
She also has a special niece and caregiver, June Pinkston, and two special daughter-in-laws: Edna McAmis and Elizabeth McAmis.
When asked how she feels to be 100 years old, Mrs. McAmis said with a chuckle, "Well ... I don't feel any different!"
And what is her secret to a long life?
"I haven't thought about it," Mrs. McAmis admitted.
"I just haven't thought about whether there ought to be a secret [to living a long life] or not - but I guess maybe there could be," she added with a twinkle in her eye.
While Mrs. McAmis didn't divulge any secrets to living to be 100 - her family did provide some clues as to her success.
According to her family, she has always been an active person, who has always enjoyed the outdoors, especially gardening.
Her diet often included the fruits and vegetables that she had grown from her gardens, and she rarely ate meat.
Mrs. McAmis is rarely ill - and she takes no regular medications. In fact, she has only been hospitalized three times in her entire life.
The only "pills" that she takes on a regular basis are her vitamin supplements, which she has always been adament about taking, her family said.
She does have a hearing impairment and requires the assistance of a hearing aid.
Mrs. McAmis is also a person blessed with a pleasant personality, who never seems to let things bother her, her family said.
"She never complains," her daughter-in-law Edna McAmis said.
But perhaps one of Mrs. McAmis' biggest assets, however, is her deep, abiding faith in God, her family said.
They called her "a woman of prayer."