Mary Virginia ‘Gingie’ Carroll turned 102 on Sunday

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper John Handley, representing Comptroller Peter Franchot, Dorchester County sheriff James Phillips, and Senator Addie Eckardt congratulate Mary Virginia Carroll on her 102nd birthday on Sunday in Secretary.

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
John Handley, representing Comptroller Peter Franchot, Dorchester County sheriff James Phillips, and Senator Addie Eckardt congratulate Mary Virginia Carroll on her 102nd birthday on Sunday in Secretary.


SECRETARY — The house in Secretary was full of people on Sunday to celebrate a birthday that was far from ordinary. The home belongs to Mary Virginia “Gingie” Carroll where she has lived for the past 79 years. On that day Ms. Gingie turned 102 years old, although most people guess her age at 80-85. This lady does not miss a trick. She decided to stop driving a couple of years ago because, as Dorchester County Sheriff James Phillips explained, “She didn’t like the way other people were driving.”

How many people get to ride in a sheriff’s police car through town with flashing lights to celebrate their birthdays? Ms. Gingie did. When she asked Sheriff James Phillips last year for a ride in one of his police cars, he did not bat an eye. He says, “Last year when I was here you said you wanted to go for a ride in the police car with me with the lights on for your next birthday.” He agreed at the time to make it happen and said, as deputy 1st class Randy Lewis drove up, “If she wants the siren on, we’ll turn it all on.”
Ms. Gingie said, with a little smile, “I just don’t want him to take me to jail!”

After a spin around town as curious residents watched in surprise, Sheriff Phillips told her, “we’ll work out something for next year.” She smiled, “I’ll be looking forward to it.” Then Ms. Gingie invited everyone into her home. “I’ve had some big surprises today,” she said as she sat comfortably in a favorite chair. “All the crowd from church came in here and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. They brought a cake with them. What am I going to do with all that cake?” Daughter Phyllis Murphy, who shares her mother’s sense of humor, said, “Share them. You’ all want a piece?” The four cakes quickly dwindled down.

There were some big surprises as well. Maryland Comproller Peter Franchot’s representative John Handley presented a certificate “For all that you’ve accomplished in your lifetime; your optimistic outlook; and for all the years you’ve given your love, talent, and strength, to family, friends and your community. My very best wishes for a full day of happiness and fond memories.” He also presented a special comptroller’s medallion for Marylanders who’ve made a difference and been a positive influence in their community.

State Sen. Addie Eckardt, fresh from her four day 200+ mile Tour de Mid-Shore bike run, presented an official senatorial citation in recognition of Ms. Gingie’s 102nd birthday. She said, “God bless you and thank you for all you do.”

Ms. Gingie proudly announced, “I’m the oldest person in Secretary. I was born in this house. My grandfather Bradshaw owned it and then when he died my husband’s parents bought it and lived here until he died.”

What is the secret of her longevity? “Well, I’ll tell you – I’ve always had good food to eat and the Lord blessed me with good health and I never had to take medicine. I never drank or smoked. I’ve got a son who will be 84 in December. He tells his doctor, ‘my mother is over 100 years old and she eats sausage, scrapple, and whatever she wants to eat.’ The doctor never says a word about my cholesterol. I’ve just lived a plain, natural, just a slow life, not in the fast lane. But I give my credit to the Lord.”

Her grandson, Glenn Murphy, said, “It’s been a real blessing all these years to have somebody as special as Nana and Pop. I was just reflecting about the Christian heritage that they passed on to the whole family. Some of the best times of my life were when mom and dad would go on vacation and nana and pop would stay for a couple weeks.”

Great-grandson Toby added, “It’s just amazing. Think about what she’s seen from 1914 to now. She’s seen a lot of stuff change in her years.” And that was probably the understatement of the day.

Happy birthday, Ms. Gingie, and many more.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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