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At 98 Edith Hutchison still hosts friends for bi-monthly card game

Edith attributes her longevity to her faith, family, friends and staying active long after retirement.  She continues to garden, reads books, plays cards, does complex tabletop puzzles and keeps up a pretty impressive garden.
Edith Hutchison facing the camera with cards in her hand.

When Edith Hutchison retired, she began looking for ways to fill her time.  One way she found, at age 70, was joining a group of ladies who were starting a Canasta card club. The club, with no formal name, originally began with a group of eight ladies who all attended Old Fellowship Church in Stilson.

They decided to meet bi-weekly for fellowship, food and of course a game or two of cards. The founding members included:

  • Edith Hutchison
  • Margaret Bell
  • Alma Bragg  
  • June Brown  
  • Olive Ann Groover  
  • Barbara Forehand  
  • Mickey Sapp  
  • Neysa Martin 

Edith and Margaret are the only two founding members still living.

28 years later at almost 99,  Edith not only is still playing cards, but still hosts the group in her home for the bi-monthly meetings when it is her turn.

The ladies play until both tables have a 5000 winner, per the rules of Canasta, before they break for lunch.  Then the winners and the second place players switch tables and begin again.

These ladies take their cards seriously, but not as seriously as the fellowship and friendships that have ensued over nearly three decades.  

What began as a group of eight Baptist ladies over the years has evolved to ladies with multiple denomination backgrounds and lived experiences.  These ladies created a special bond that has allowed them to stay active and involved in the lives of their community.

A remarkable life

When Edith was born in 1924, to Mamie and John Woodward, Calvin Coolidge was President.  She lived through the Great Depression, World War II, where she lost her only sibling John Gilbert Woodward, and many other remarkable world events.

Her parents owned a popular general store, Woodward’s Grocery, in downtown Stilson and she recounts how times were different then growing up in a rural community in a store that was the gathering point for the town.

She remembers a time before indoor plumbing, running water, electricity or telephones.

“I was 12 when we first got electricity in Stilson, we didn’t get running water until I came home from attending Georgia State College for Women ( now Georgia College & State University), " said Edith Hutchison.  “I had married and moved back to Stilson before we got our first phone and it was a four party line.  One of the couples was new in love and we had to threaten them to get them off the phone so we could make a call.”

A life changing toothache 

After attending college for a little over a year, she came back home to join the war effort working at Hunter Airfield in Savannah.  Her brother, John Gilbert, was stationed at the time in Montgomery, Alabama training to be a pilot.  Edith's mother was hoping she could get off a little early so they could get on the road to make the drive to Montgomery to visit John Gilbert.  Edith had a minor toothache and asked the Lieutenant, who was her supervisor, if she could take off early and go to the dentist. Hoping to get off the base a little early to see the dentist in town.  Instead, he called in a favor to “help her out” to be seen by the base dentist.  It was during this visit that she met Harold Hutchison who six weeks later would become her husband.

“I guess it wasn’t really a fib, my tooth did hurt, but maybe not bad enough to see a dentist,” said Edith.  “It seemed to work out alright.”

Alright included a life of farm life in Stilson, raising two children, Rick Hutchison of Statesboro and Carol Duke of Jonesboro. and a career for her with the postal service.  My wife, Lori, is her first grandchild and our daughter Edie Grace is Edith’s namesake great granddaughter.

Last Postmaster in Stilson

“I remember as a little girl how exciting it was to go to the train depot in Stilson with my friend whose Mom, Sarah Driggers, along with her husband ran the Post Office.  Back then, we got mail two times a day in the morning and afternoon,” said Edith.  “There was a hook by the tracks and the train would slow down and place the mail bag on the hook.”

BCHS Historical Marker mentioning Edith Hutchison. BCHS

June Brown followed the Driggers running the Stilson post office.  After she retired, Edith became the last serving Postmaster until they closed the post office in 1966.  She continued her career, moving to the Statesboro post office, until she retired.

The Bulloch County Historical Society honored Edith on a historical marker placed in downtown Stilson recounting the once vibrant farming communities history.

The tamer of Gerald Edenfield

Edith remains a devoted member of Old Fellowship Baptist Church in Stilson where she taught Sunday school for years.  One of her most noted stories as a teacher involved local attorney Gerald Edenfield.  Gerald and his late brother Avant grew up in the church.  Gerald was a bit of a rascal and Edith was the only person in the church that he minded.  So Gerald never seemed to get promoted out of her Sunday school class.  

Secrets to a long life

Edith attributes her longevity to her faith, family, friends and staying active long after retirement.  She continues to garden, reads books, plays cards, does complex tabletop puzzles, keeps up a pretty impressive garden and drives.  She also loves learning new things.

She reads Grice Connect daily on her iPad, often asking me about stories that I haven’t even had a chance to read yet.  

Edith spent most our our interview explaining to me how there must be someone more interesting to interview and reminding me how much she abhors the limelight. 

I reminded her that we felt her story was pretty special and feel many of you will agree.  I also promised that when done, hopefully I would still be welcome in her home.

Edith is a trailblazer who is one of the most consistent, remarkable, hardest working women I have had the honor to know.  She loves her family, her friends and her church deeply.  She is certainly an inspiration to Lori, Edie, me and many of you and is definitely worthy of her story being shared.