On April 2, Josephine Morgan joined the every growing population of centenarians and celebrated her 100th birthday with family, friends, and church members at Austin’s Madison Banquet Hall, 5225 W. Madison.
Born on April 2, 1913 in Drew, Miss., Morgan, an only child, moved with her mother, Bessie King, to Chicago when she was 12 years old.
Morgan had one son, James Knighten, Sr., a Korean War veteran, who died in 1995. Reminiscing, Morgan said, “James was a good boy. He served in the service.” Morgan now lives with and is cared for by her great granddaughter Charmine Knighten. She is in excellent health except for the inherent challenges of being 100 years old.
When asked what lessons her mother taught her, Morgan smiled and said, “My mother did not teach me anything, hardly; it was my grandmother who I lived with who taught me everything.”
Morgan, an excellent cook and baker, is famous for her socket-to-me cakes and sweet potato pies, said her grandmother, Francis King.
Morgan said she shared her grandmother’s culinary skills, strict child rearing rules, and Christian values with her great granddaughters. Great granddaughter, Dorothy Knighten, confirmed, ” She taught me how to make sweet potato pies, and oh, yeah, she was strict. We also went to church.”
Morgan is one of the three oldest living cousins in her family. Among those celebrating with her was James Allen, one of the three cousins, and several members of New Mission Temple COGIC, 4700 W. Polk, where Morgan has been a longtime member and serves on the Mother’s Board. Allen said even though Morgan doesn’t attend church as often as she once did, “she is still much loved as a faithful member.”
Allen also said that while on the Mother’s Board, “She brought all the children choir robes.”
Between her many hobbies, Morgan enjoys shopping and playing cards most.
“I love going thrift shopping because I can find some great bargains,” she said with a smile. “I like playing all kinds of cards. I use to win most games, but I don’t play much of anything now.”
Among the many things Morgan once enjoyed was watching her then favorite soap opera, The Guiding Light, which was canceled after airing 50 years on CBS. She still enjoys the Price Is Right and spending time with her great grand children. She loves gospel music, and doesn’t have a favorite song.
Before retiring, Morgan worked for 35 years as a food service worker at Cook County Hospital. She remembers the life and times of Dr. King and what he did to further the cause of African-Americans in America. She is pleased that she got to vote for Obama during his first election. “I helped to get him in,” she said with twinkling eyes and a smile.
When asked what the secret to living to be 100 years old and looking as young and beautiful as she does, Morgan replied, “I don’t know the secret to living to be 100 years old. I just trusted God and kept going.”
As the party continued, Morgan and her guests enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by her great granddaughters. Many people visited her table and expressed love and continued well wishes. Joined by her sister, Charmine, Dorothy Knighten embraced her grandmother and said, “My grandmother is living a joyful life, and we thank God for her being here so long.”