Cornersville's biggest fan turns 100

Friday, February 6, 2015
Granny Wheeler, seated, was honored at the Cornersville High School basketball game.

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

As a kid, we all dreamed of living to be 100. As we get older, we learn to accept that we won't live forever and that He will take us when it's time.

For Ruby Wheeler, her childhood dream came true.

Ruby Pearle Watson Wheeler, known to everyone as "Granny Wheeler," was born on Feb. 1, 1915. She was married to the late Melvin Flournoy Wheeler for 53 years. Together they had two children, Eddie Wheeler and Linda Ballinger; three grandchildren, Jason Wheeler, Jennifer Smith, and Tammy Riner; and four great-grandchildren, Alicia Riner, Chad Riner, Brittny Wheeler and Blake Wheeler.

Charles Ballinger, who is married to daughter Linda, Dawn Wheeler, who is married to grandson Jason, Jerome Smith, who is married to granddaughter Jennifer, and Danny Riner, who is married to granddaughter Tammy, are all very close to Granny Wheeler.

She attended Bunker Hill School in Summertown until 10th grade when she quit to help her parents on the farm.

Ruby and Melvin owned a farm on Ostella Road in Cornersville where he farmed and she raised the children, along with doing farm work.

It wasn't until her son Eddie was 12 years old that the Wheelers bought their first television. Everyone in the neighborhood came over and watched wrestling with them.

"When Daddy would do his morning feeding, Momma would go out there and wring the chicken's neck, pick it, and have it on the table ready to eat when he got home," said Eddie.

Wheeler's children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren attended Cornersville High School where she was a cook in the cafeteria for seven years.

Growing up, she kept all of her grandchildren.

"We saw Granny more than we did our own parents. I remember her telling us to go outside and get a switch so she would whip us," said Tammy.

"Her favorite saying growing up was, 'It'll get well before you get married,'" added Tammy.

At age 100, Wheeler is very healthy. She takes only one medication daily, which is a thyroid pill.

"Years ago Momma had her thyroid operated on. Me and my brother Eddie were so tickled because she couldn't yell at us," said Linda.

When asked what the secret to a long life is, she replied, "Don't worry about anything."

After asking if she eats healthy, she said, "Yeah I do, beans, corn bread, and taters."

Granny Wheeler still lives in the same house that she moved to after leaving the farm on Ostella Road, and she is a very prominent lady in Cornersville. Her family and friends take good care of her. Linda puts gas in her car every month, Alicia gives her the "old person discount" by cutting her hair, and her neighbor, Angie Norman, brings her dinner every night in exchange for country eggs.

"We had to take the mower away from her because she was still push mowing her yard when she was in her late 70s," said Jennifer.

Wheeler may be 100 years old, but it doesn't show. She still drives herself to church -- she has been attending Cornersville Church of Christ for 60 years. She still cooks and tends to her flower bed in the summer. Many tell her she has the prettiest flowers in town. Every now and again, Cornersville High School uses her flowers when they hold a public event.

Some would think Granny Wheeler was a player from hearing her name so much at Cornersville games. She may not be a player, but Wheeler is Cornersville's biggest fan, sitting in the same seat at every sporting event. She has the best seat, one that isn't too high at the top or too low on the floor.

All of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren attended school in Cornersville. She did not miss any of their games.

CHS named her the Grand Marshall in its homecoming parade years back, and she also was the Queen Snowflake in the Lewisburg Christmas parade in 2010.

During Halloween she counts all the trick-or-treaters that stop at her door. The children finally put her out of business after they found she had the best candy on the street.

During her 100 years of life, you would think she would have accomplished it all, but there are things she has not done. Wheeler has never ridden a bicycle, pumped gas, or ever had a headache. She has never owned a computer or cell phone. She still uses a rotary dial phone hanging on her wall. She has never been pulled over by a policeman, roller skated, used a typewriter, or ridden in an airplane.

She has lived through the terms of 26 presidents, five of whom are still living.

Cornersville Elementary School celebrated their 100th day of school last month and invited Wheeler to talk with the students. She enjoyed answering all of the students' questions and telling them about her long life.

"We should probably stop at Dollar General to get a walking cane so I'll look the part of an old woman," joked Wheeler as her great-granddaughter Brittny drove her to school.

She was tickled when a student said she didn't know old ladies had all of their teeth.

On her birthday Sunday, her church threw her a surprise birthday party after services. She had a birthday cake, gifts, and tons of hugs and "Happy Birthdays."

To end her series of birthday surprises, she was recognized at the CHS basketball game Monday night. Over 800 cupcakes were made and distributed to all who attended the game. On the cupcakes were toppers with Wheeler's picture on them.

During halftime of the girl's game, Wheeler and her family were called to the center of the court. Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett presented her a with a proclamation naming Feb. 1 "Granny Wheeler's Day." Mayor of Cornersville Amos Davis gave her a plaque on behalf of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the town of Cornersville for her dedication to the town. She was also given a Life magazine published 100 years ago and a gift card donated by the Cornersville Walmart and CHS.

Wheeler's family cherish every moment they have with their Granny Wheeler. She has a lot ahead of her as she plans to sit front and center as her great-grandchildren get married.

God is not ready to call Wheeler home yet, but when the time comes, we know she'll have the prettiest flowerbeds of them all in heaven.