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July 22, 2013

The secret to a long, long life

QUITMAN — At the age of 102, Kay Roberts would have every right to spend her days at home in bed, but that’s the exact opposite of what she does. Instead, Roberts spends almost every day at First Baptist Church of Quitman helping out the church in any way she can.

Roberts was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. She came to the South after her husband, Bill, was offered a job in Florida. The two then moved to Valdosta for a short time. While in Valdosta, Roberts was asked to help find someone to be the secretary at First Baptist Quitman.

During her search, someone said to her, “Mrs. Roberts, you can do it,” and she has been a part of First Baptist Quitman ever since. That was in 1956.

During her time at the church, Roberts has served as secretary along with many other positions. Today, she greets visitors, folds programs, sorts through mail and does anything else that she can to help.

“I enjoy helping people,” said Roberts. When asked why, she explained, “God gave me the ability and desire.”

Growing up in Louisville, Roberts was raised to love the Kentucky Derby and went to it each year with her family.

“Daddy always took us to the Derby. That was more important than Easter. He always bought us new dresses and hats. Daddy would always bet for us. I’ve never won any,” she recalled.

In honor of her love for the Derby, the church threw a Derby Fellowship birthday party for Roberts on July 14. All of the ladies wore different styles of hats and everyone shared their memories and stories with her.

Roberts is thankful for all of her friends and co-workers. “I am fortunate to have good friends that help me.”

Her co-workers feel that they are the lucky ones. Barbara Williamson, First Baptist Quitman’s financial secretary, “She is a remarkable lady. This church is her life.”

Cathy Williford, the pastor’s secretary, added, “She is an awesome woman. She is the backbone of this church.”

Pastor Chris Hilliard also praised Roberts’ hard work and love for the church. “She loves history. She loves digging through the old pictures here at the church and reading old news clippings. For a very long time, and still often today, if you needed to know something, you went to her.”

For fun, Roberts enjoyed working in her yard on her daylilies, singing with the choir and taking line dancing classes. Since she is unable to do these things anymore, she enjoys listening to classical music and helping at the church. She has a weekly beauty shop appointment and almost every day for lunch she drives herself to Burger King.

When asked what her secret is to reaching the age of 102, Roberts simply responded, “I didn’t plan on it. I have just been blessed.”

She added that her advice to everyone is “not to give advice.”

Roberts and her late husband, Bill, have one child, Bill Jr. She has two grandsons and five great-grandchildren, all living in Denver. Each year for Christmas, she flies to Denver to be with her family.

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