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Centenarian surrounded by her friends, neighbors

Edith Rebecca Holsinger has spent her entire life taking care of others, and now at age 100 she feels very blessed to receive a helping hand from her loving neighbors.

“I have so many people helping me, I don’t know who is helping me, and I appreciate every one of them,” Holsinger said.

Born Dec. 3, 1912 to John Geil Holsinger and Lydia Ellen Beam, she was the youngest of five children. She had one brother, Floyd Oliver Holsinger, and three sisters, Rhoda Mae Holsinger, Gladys Holsinger and Clara Stella Holsinger, who died as an infant before Holsinger was born.

Her mother and father moved to the area from Harrisonburg where her father was a teacher. After they moved to South Boston, her father owned and operated a store in the Wolf Trap community selling groceries and fertilizer to farmers.

Holsinger grew up in the Wolf Trap area where she attended Wolf Trap School and later attended Halifax School up until the eighth grade.

 “I went to school every day and had to study my lessons at night by lamplight,” Holsinger recalled of her childhood.

The 100 year-old reminisced about her daily chores as a child, cleaning the chimney and feeding her cow, Pinky.

Holsinger was only 12 years old when her mother died of breast cancer on Dec. 30, 1924.

After finishing the eighth grade, Holsinger began working in the bleachery room at the Cotton Mill.  During wartime, Holsinger said she worked at Collins and Aikman in Roxboro, N.C., where they made tents for the soldiers. After the war, they made dress material. 

Holsinger went to work at J. P. Stevens after her stint at Collins and Aikman and remained employed there until she retired.

“I worked all my life. I thank the Lord I was able to work,” Holsinger said.

According to Holsinger, she was the only one in her family to work a public job which kept her family going. 

Holsinger was never married but was engaged to her childhood sweetheart, Lester Powell, who was her neighbor. 

“I dated him all my life,” Holsinger said.

For years, Holsinger said Powell took her to Scottsburg Baptist Church every Sunday where she is still a member. Holsinger received a pin for each year she attended church every Sunday, which added up to 28 years.

 “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Lester,” Holsinger said.

Like herself, Powell also took care of his family.

According to Holsinger, Powell would sell sweet potatoes and give a tenth of his profits to the Lord.

“The whole time I went with him he never broke a date with me,” Holsinger said.

If he said he was going to be somewhere at a certain time, he was there, Holsinger added.

Powell died Oct. 17, 1980.

During the Great Depression Holsinger built a home for herself on Wolf Trap Road on land she bought from her father. She did not however move into the house until the early 1980s with her brother, Floyd, and her sister, Rhoda, who both suffered from heart problems.

Holsinger said she took care of her siblings until their deaths. Later, her sister, Gladys, moved into a house down the street, and when she became ill, Holsinger moved in to take care of her until her death in 2010. Gladys was 99 years old, only six months away from being 100 when she died.

Holsinger now resides in the home she built on Wolf Trap Road, and for years she served as a member of the Dan River Ruritan Club. 

For her 100th birthday, her loving friends and neighbors, Dorcas Martin, Nancy Hazelwood, Linda Haley and Sharon Goode, took her to breakfast at South Boston Inn Bar and Grill to celebrate.