Happy 108th Birthday Margaret Stephenson!

Ocala resident and Marion County native has strong ties to Reddick and Flemington areas.

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Posted May 13, 2023 | By Andy Fillmore

Margaret (Johnson) Stephenson had a double red-letter day on May 14, when she celebrated Mother’s Day and her 108th birthday.

An advance birthday party for the Marion County native was held May 12 at The Harmony House at Ocala assisted living and memory care facility on Airport Road, where Stephenson has resided for eight years. Her son Sidney Stephenson Jr. and his wife Ellene were there, along with her niece Barbara Stephenson.

“Real nice,” Margaret Stephenson said about the party, during which she enjoyed cake, hugs and many well-wishes.

A second party was held Sunday at her son’s home in Flemington in northwest Marion County after Margaret and some family members attended church services.

Sidney Stephenson, 83, said his mother was born in Reddick and attended a school that preceded the red brick Reddick High School that was demolished a couple of years ago. She married Sidney Stephenson Sr. in 1934. They moved to nearby Flemington around 1943. He passed away in 1999.

Their son, who served with the Ocala Police Department from 1966 until 1990, said that during World War II, his father worked building military air bases in towns including Bartow, Dunnellon and Williston, then later was involved in statewide road construction. His mother was a member of the air base group known as the “Road Runners,” who traveled along with their husbands as the bases were constructed, he said.

Margaret has been a member of Flemington Baptist Church since the early 1940s, where she was a member of the women’s missionary group. She regularly travels with her son and his family to Sunday services at the church.

Sidney Stephenson said his mother was a full-time housewife and avid horsewoman, especially in the days when “open range” was the rule in Florida. He said his family had cattle and that they lived near a large cattle operation and his mother would round up strays that wandered onto the family property.

Harmony House at Ocala Director Kathy Earnest and Facility Director of Resident Care Kim Davis also joined the party on Friday, along with caregivers from Gentiva Hospice of Ocala, a provider of personal, palliative and hospice care, who assist Margaret with mobility and personal care.

Gentiva Hospice chaplain Fredy Supo said Margaret has a strong connection with family and called her a “woman of faith.”

Brandi Lane, RN, a case manager with Gentiva, described Margaret as “very strong.”

A large mural-style blanket hangs on a wall in Margaret’s room. It shows an image of her extended family, which is important to her.

Sidney said his mother had a great time at the party at his home, surrounded by many of those family members, which includes three grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, six great-great-grandchildren, “and then some.”

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