“Obeying God’s word is my prescription for longevity,” says 90-year-old Annie Mae White, affectionately called aunt Annie or Mother White by friends, family and admirers.

The Austin resident has lived in the community since 1971. She feels that the block she lives on is very quiet and hasn’t changed much. She has been involved with the block club for many years, and has been an active member at Greater St. John Bible, 1254 N. Waller.

Born in Helena, Ark. with eight brothers and seven sisters, Mother White, many will say, was predestined to have a heart to care. Although she never had children of her own, she has raised family members and welcomed strangers into her home, family members said.

She has cared for her friend’s and family’s children over the years-she joked that she charged a reasonable price to baby-sit-and enjoyed being a helping hand to extended family. Mother White’s niece-who asked that her name not be mentioned, instead wanting the focus to be on her aunt-calls Annie Mae White, a mother, a friend, and a true pal.

She chuckled at the thought of church members nick-naming her and Mother White “Naomi and Ruth” from the bible because “when you see me you know you going to see her.”

Mother White and her niece attend Greater St. John Bible Church where Ira Acree is pastor, and also White’s great nephew.

“She is so giving and has impacted so many lives,” said Acree, who has been the head of the Greater St. John flock for the last 13 years.

“We call her ‘Auntie Annie,'” he said of his aunt, who joined Greater St. John when Acree became pastor, “the Auntie Annie booth you see at the mall is an imposter-she is the real Auntie Annie.

“She is an aunt to everyone,” he added. “She shows love for everybody.”

During her time at the church, Mother White has been a nurse, usher, and faithful member of Greater St. John for as long as Acree’s been preaching. Mother White said she loves and respects her pastor “because he is a great pastor, nephew and a wonderful leader.”

As she got older, she began to pull back on some of her church responsibilities. Mother White is the “mother of the church” now.

Late in 2006, she was hospitalized and fought for her life at Oak Park Hospital. With much prayer and her inner strength, she recovered and was later honored at her 90th birthday party in November 2006 at Greater St. John’s fellowship hall. More than 250 guests showed up.

Of her 15 siblings, she has one living brother, Alvin White, who resides in Okeechobee, Fla. They both continue to “praise the Lord in their old age because,” according to Mother White, “That’s what God wants us to do.”

This profile originally ran in the 2007 Austin Community Guide which published in February.