Ethel Cates Wilson celebrates 100th birthday in 2019

Published 8:18 am Monday, January 13, 2020


Ethel Cates Wilson reached a once-in-a-lifetime milestone in 2019. She celebrated her 100th birthday at Hillview Nursing Home September 25 with family and friends in attendance.

Ethel is the first member of the Cates Clan to reach this goal in life. By doing so, she overtook the previous Cates Clan record holder, her aunt, Rhoda Cates Hyder. Rhoda almost reached this achievement, but passed away at an age of 99 years, two months and 18 days, in March 2006.

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According to her father’s diary, Ethel was born at home to J.R. and Mattie Cates on September 25, 1919. Dr. John B. Shoun performed the delivery, and the bill came to a whooping $5. Ethel was one of 11 siblings, who included Roy, Harry, Edith, Clyde, Mildred, Jim, Ray, and Mary Ruth, all deceased, and Sally and Frank, who are still living.

Until Ethel reached her milestone, Clyde Cates held the title of the oldest lived amongst the siblings at the age of 97 years and 6 months when he passed in 2013.

I remember hearing Ethel making the statement once that she just wanted to beat Clyde. As you can see she won that match and is still swinging hard for the fences, with her two living siblings racing to catch up.

Ethel lived in the Tiger Valley Community of Hampton. She attended and graduated from Tiger Valley Elementary School and Hampton High School. After school she got a job at the rayon plant in Elizabethton. Her future husband, Albert L. Wilson, from Rogersville, worked at Bemberg and boarded with her Uncle Charlie and Aunt Mamie Hyder. Albert became fishing buddies with Uncle Charlie.

Ethel and Albert started dating around this time and were brought together in marriage on Ethel’s 21st birthday in 1940. The couple had five children: Albert Richard, John K., James Isaac, Jerry Wayne and Margaret Lynn. The couple was married 44 years when Albert died in December 1984.

Ethel is still in great health and can recall days long past like they were yesterday. We all love Miss Wilson and hope she graces us with her presence for many years to come, setting the bar higher every day.