Friends, family help McDaniel celebrate 100th birthday

Ruth Owen McDaniel, seated, right, is surrounded by nieces and nephews on her 100th birthday, including, from rear, left, Jim McDaniel, Ronald Gordon, Nancy Owen Wells, Oleta Barnes Faaborg; seated, from left, Ina Gordon Smith and Clara Gordon Adkins.

PINNACLE — Family, friends and well-wishers filled the Brims Grove Baptist Church fellowship hall on the afternoon of June 2 to honor Ruth McDaniel on the occasion of her 100th birthday.

McDaniel and her guests enjoyed a hearty meal, along with gifts, fellowship and gospel music, all accompanied by photos and memorabilia recognizing her decades of travel, friendships and experiences. Among the birthday mementos was a letter from television personality Willard Scott.

The setting was a fitting one for Ruth Owen McDaniel to be recognized, as she was born in the Brims Grove community and attended the long-since closed Brims Grove School. She grew up on the working farm of her parents, Creed and Nannie Franklin Owen.

After graduation, she married another local farmer, Lindo McDaniel. She was active in her community and for several years taught Sunday school at Brims Grove Baptist Church.

The course of her life was changed in 1950 with the untimely passing of her husband. McDaniel lost her mother that same year.

She eventually returned to school, attending High Point College to study for a teaching degree. She attained her goal at the age of 40 and began a career as a primary grades teacher.

After a short stint of teaching in Rural Hall, McDaniel learned of an opportunity to teach on military bases, working with the dependent children of those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The lure of travel combined with the opportunity to serve proved attractive to McDaniel, who spent the remainder of her career on military bases around the world. According to relatives, some of the locations she taught included Guam, Newfoundland, Iceland, Cuba, France, Germany and The Philippines.

After retiring, McDaniel returned to the Pilot Mountain/Pinnacle area, moving in with a brother in the Volunteer community. She still lives in the house today.

She has filled her retirement years with the things she loves, family, friends and home. Always active and independent, she regularly visited the sick and those in rest homes. Enjoyably busy days also have been spent in the garden and doing yard work.

A nephew, Ronald Gordon, joined with his wife, Ruth, and others to help in organizing the large birthday gathering. He and other nephews and nieces, some attending from across the state and beyond, describe their aunt with obvious affection, noting numerous instances of when she had reached out to meet needs in the community.

“She has always been someone who wanted to help when there’s a need,” Gordon said. “She cares about her neighbors and her relatives and, as she’s able, she has always wanted to be there for them.

“She’s known for her cheery outlook,” he continued. “She’s the kind of person who could always give you a lift just by being around her.”

When asked to describe his aunt, Jim McDaniel of Emerald Isle was quick to come up with a simple yet eloquent assessment.

“She’s just an awesome lady,” he said.

Dean Palmer may be reached at 336-351-4131 or

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