Hassie Scott, 110: Kept moving, doing good through long life

Hassie Louvenia White Scott lived up to her favorite mantra, “A body in motion stays in motion.”

She had the best attendance at the Emmaus House senior program, where she loved to dance, quilt, paint pictures and make pads for cancer patients. She was one of the oldest and fastest participants in the city’s Senior Walk.

She also participated in protests on social issues and bridged the generation gap to encourage young adults back to church.

“She was always busy. She never sat down. She felt it was her calling to be engaged,” said Columbus Ward, former assistant director in charge of senior programs at the Emmaus House. “Because she was older than us and so active, she motivated us to never give up.”

Scott of Jonesboro died June 30 of pneumonia at Emory Midtown Hospital. She was 110. Her funeral is scheduled for noon Friday at Mt. Zion Second Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Friends and family recall a spunky but kindhearted Christian who didn’t slow down during her golden years. She loved to help others and have fun.

She was born on Sept. 9, 1904, on a farm in Lafayette, Ala., the ninth of 14 children. Her parents instilled the importance of church service, community outreach and civic awareness, and Scott embraced those values her entire life.

When senior citizens in her Lafayette community fell on hard times and needed a place to stay, Scott took them in to keep them out of the poorhouses, said her daughter Benzia Jackson of Jonesboro.

“I believe that’s why Mother lived so long, because she was active and took care of senior citizens and had a love for children,” Jackson said. “She had a heart for helping seniors.”

Scott paid a poll tax to vote in Alabama in the 1950s and never missed an opportunity to cast a ballot in every local, state or national election.

Her only son, George Lewis Scott, was a founding member of the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. He performed with the Grammy Award-winning gospel group until his death in 2005.

In 1956, she and husband Bruce Scott moved to Atlanta and became active at Smith Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He died three years later. She devoted herself to working in several church auxiliaries.

To help working mothers, Scott often would babysit for no charge. At church, she encouraged young adults floundering in their faith to return to the fold.

The Rev. Eddie Henley of Atlanta met Scott at church in the 1980s after leaving the Marine Corps. He said Scott became like a second mother who encouraged him to get back on track.

“She would talk with motherly love and concern instead of in a critical way,” said Henley, pastor of Wilkes Chapel AME Church in Atlanta. “She had a lot to do with me going into the ministry. She was instrumental to a lot of young people getting back into church.”

Each year, Scott looked forward to the Mayor’s Senior Ball and was not shy about approaching political leaders for a dance. Former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, former Gov. Roy Barnes and U.S. Rep. John Lewis were among her dance partners.

While active at the Emmaus House, Scott never missed a day in more than 20 years of attendance.

“She was always ready to go and ready to do. She never gave up,” Ward said. “She inspired us to move forward in life.”

In addition to her daughter Benzia, Scott is survived by her niece and adopted daughter Virginia Byrd of Atlanta; five grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, 32 great-great grandchildren and six great-great-great-grandchildren.