Elizabeth “Lizzie” Seal Hawks, the oldest registered voter in Surry County, died on Thursday at her home. She was 107 years old and just a little more than a month shy of her 108th birthday.
Hawks received an award from the Surry Board of Commissioners honoring her as the county’s oldest registered voter a few years ago, according to her daughter, Nancy McPeak. Hawks continued to exercise her rights as a citizen, voting most recently in November of 2016. “She was sharp as a tack,” said McPeak. “Her mind was great.”
McPeak said of her mother on Friday, “Mama had a really strong faith in God. She took one day at a time, trusted God and moved forward.” McPeak feels her mother’s strong faith contributed to her longevity.
Hawks was a member of Antioch Baptist Church for 95 years. She taught Sunday school and sang in the choir at various times in the past and continued to attend services until a few weeks before her death.
Hawks attended Beulah School and was a member of its first graduating class, and often attended reunions. In 2015, she was a special guest at an all-year reunion.
Hawks was a lifelong gardener and in 2016 her grandson built her a raised garden bed about three feet high so she could continue gardening comfortably. She planted beans, potatoes, onions and lettuce which she harvested herself. Before falling ill, she had purchased onion sets to plant in her garden this year.
Hawks saw many changes in her life, moving from the horse and buggy era to cars and from outhouses to indoor plumbing, from manually working a farm to tractors. “She’s seen so many things in her life,” said her daughter. She enjoyed talking about the changes that had happened in her life and people loved to hear her talk about them.
In 2015, when Hawks was 105 years old, she visited Cedar Ridge Elementary School where her great-granddaughter, Ava McPeak, was a student. Nancy McPeak says the experience was very meaningful to both her mother and granddaughter.
The students at Cedar Ridge asked Hawks questions about her life.
Hawks told the children about her school experience. “My school only had two rooms. There were about 70 students in one room. There was no electricity and no running water. Back then bathrooms were outside and called outhouses.”
When asked by a student if she had a computer when she was young, Hawks said “No. We had what was called a speller and a reader. There were no computers back then.”
When pressed as to what she did for fun if she didn’t have an iPad, Hawks told the children, “I would have fun by playing games with my siblings, sing by the fire or play ball.”
Though much of the technology taken for granted at Lizzie Hawks death in 2017 did not exist when she was born in 1909, she was not afraid to give it a go. She flew over Mount Airy in a helicopter to celebrate her 100th birthday, seeing the town where she had spent her life from the air for the first time, utilizing a machine that hadn’t been invented when she was born.
The kids at Cedar Ridge were impressed by that.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.