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March 2008

110 years of service

World War I was coming to an end when Epsie Rike Wilson graduated from the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial College, now UNCG, in 1918.

Ninety years later, UNCG's second eldest alumna is the oldest living person in the state of Virginia. Epsie, who just celebrated her 110th birthday, is still sharp and feisty.

More than 80 people came to her birthday party, held at the assisting living center she calls home. The Roanoke Times reporter who covered the event observed that she waved away irritating photographers and insisted, “I don't have anything interesting to tell you about me. Why don't you say she's old and worn out?”

Epsie grew up on a farm in Randolph County south of Greensboro, where she says she learned the value of hard work. She helped her husband, Ambrose, run a drugstore and an office supply store and sold insurance. She was also the first woman to serve on the vestry at her church.

The Roanoke Times also reported that she drove a car past her 90th birthday and lived independently until she was over 100.

Terri Clark, UNCG's director of annual giving, attended Epsie's party. Clark finds Epsie amazing. “Even after living 110 years she feels as if she has not given enough to other people. UNCG's motto of service has really carried through, even into that 110th year.”




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