Elma Wilson of Timbo celebrated her 95th birthday Jan. 23. She celebrated at her home with her two sisters and brother and other close family. Instead of a traditional party, family and friends gave her a birthday parade, riding through the yard holding signs, with horns honking, and a siren blaring.
“We’re certainly blessed to have her at 95 and in good spirits,” said her son, Jerry Wilson, who along with his wife Tammy operates a cattle and hay operation on Circle W Farm.
Elma was born at home in Onia on Jan. 23, 1926, the second of what would eventually be nine children born to Emmett and Ella Fletcher. Elma’s surviving siblings are Eldo Fletcher of Newnata, and Mavis Lindsey and Jo Duke, both of Heber Springs.
Elma attended a one-room school at Onia, where her future husband Olen Wilson was also a student. Onia offered classes through eighth grade, which is as far as Elma pursued, while Olen went on to high school at Big Flat before entering the service. He returned from service and took a test for a teaching certificate and began teaching at Onia, where Mavis was still in school. She carried notes back and forth between Olen and Elma until they started dating.
She and Olen married in 1947, and Olen attended college for a degree in agriculture. He taught in several schools before a position at Timbo opened and he became the first agriculture teacher for that district. In 1959, they built a home just north of Timbo on Highway 263, where Elma still resides. She was widowed in 2018, the same year the Wilsons were named Stone County Farm Family of the Year.
The Wilsons reared two daughters older than Jerry: Janet Eunson and Joanie Cromwell. When Jerry started school Elma was able to pursue a line of work she had always desired: nursing. She worked as a nurse’s aide at the nursing home for about five years, then worked 10 years at the hospital.
Elma always produced a big garden and especially enjoys tomatoes. These days, her daughter-in-law Tammy and daughter Janet perform most of the physical gardening work, but Elma is an active supervisor and advisor.
Elma’s favorite indoor activity has always been quilting, which she learned from her mother. She enjoys discussing and showing examples of the many patterns she has created over the years such as Sunbonnet Sue, Ohio Star, Wedding Ring and Martha Washington Star. Older quilts are made from flour sacks or feed sacks.
Janet lives on the farm and is able to assist with daily activities, while Joanie now lives in Mississippi.
“When the parade of cars went through the yard, her face lit up and she had the biggest smile,” Janet said. “Friends and family ran up to the window carrying posters wishing her a happy birthday. She said she had never had so much attention.”
The birthday siren was courtesy of Eddie Cowell, who was always a grateful recipient of Elma’s popcorn balls on Halloween.
Tammy said she is thankful to be part of Elma’s daily life and to be able to celebrate her birthday.
“It’s certainly a blessing. I have the most precious mother-in-law and I wish her many more birthdays and surprises.”