MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — It’s a big day for George County native Melionee Echols, as she celebrates her 100th birthday in Mobile.
Not too many people can say they lived to be 100, so many family members gathered to celebrate Melionee on Saturday. She was born on April 9, 1923 in Movella, Mississippi. Echols has lived all over the country, in seven different states!
She says growing up in rural George County during the Great Depression wasn’t always easy. Still, she managed to pursue higher education and advanced degrees throughout her life.
Echols graduated from Agricola High School, Perkinston Junior College (now MGCCC) and Mississippi Southern College (now USM) to become an extension home economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She completed a Master’s degree in home management and family living from Oregon State University and post-graduate studies in foods and nutrition at Mississippi State University, University of Mississippi, Clinton College and Millsap College.
As an extension home economist, she organized Women’s Home Demonstration and 4-H Club programs. She began her career in Prentiss County, then to Jackson County. Her work allowed her to travel across the country. She taught homemaking, including lessons on food preservation, clothing, interior design, financial management, budgeting, gardening, child care and parenting.
Echols participated in radio programs, wrote news articles, staged shows, fairs and home improvement contests and appeared on television. She developed education programs, working with numerous universities. She later served as Head Start Nutritionist over eight schools in Hinds County and as the Dietician and Food Services Director at Doctors Hospital in Jackson.
She and her husband of over 50 years, William “Hamp” Echols, lived a life of adventure in Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oregon, Florida, Washington D.C. and Alabama. He passed in 2008 at 79-years-old.
She wrote a book about her life to try to be an example that anyone can overcome challenges and difficulties to change one’s life. The Peddler’s Daughter: Memoirs of Melionee Allen Echols was published in 2018 when she was 95-years-old.
Echols was very excited to celebrate her centennial birthday at Somerby Mobile, but didn’t want to spill too many of her secrets of how she achieved such a great milestone.
She shared her birthday wish with WKRG News 5: “To live another 100 years!”