Centenarian Salvation Army soldier celebrated in Raleigh, N.C.

Aug 3, 2021 | by Brad Rowland

Centenarian Salvation Army soldier celebrated in Raleigh, N.C.

By: Major Frank Duracher

Bessie Emory, 100, was recently honored with a birthday celebration following the Sunday worship service at the Raleigh International Corps. "Miss Bessie," as she is known by literally hundreds of the "kids" she mentored over the years, was surprised to see some of them in attendance who made the trip just to honor her.

Bessie was converted on March 31, 1935 and enrolled as a Senior Soldier 18 months later on Oct. 4, 1936. Her leadership as a local officer began almost immediately, influencing an innumerable line of young people in Raleigh. These children and teens grew up to become successful homemakers, business leaders, advisory board members, Salvation Army soldiers and officers.

"She was always a loving leader," recalls Brenda Perry, one of Miss Bessie's many Sunbeams and Girl Guards through the years. "I learned so much from her." 

"As a local officer in The Salvation Army, she was always here at the corps," says Lillie DeBerry Anderson, a member of The Salvation Army’s Rocky Mount Advisory Board. "She was a staple in this corps for many decades and encouraged all of us."

Lib Tiller, another longtime soldier of the Raleigh Corps, agrees, adding, "Bessie was so faithful as a role model—which was and still is so very important for young people." 

Taking in all the fuss, Miss Bessie could only think about the family, friends, and fellow Salvationists she knew since her service to the Lord began in the 1930s. 

"Its hard to put all this together," Miss Bessie says. "I'm thinking about all the changes—good and bad—over the years. And I'm thinking about the blessings I've received, and I'm thankful to God for everything!"

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