The McCreary County Record


November 27, 2011

Miss Fannie’s Big Day

Local treasure celebrates 100 years

WHITLEY CITY —  Just a few months ahead of McCreary County’s centennial, one of our most beloved citizens has celebrated her own milestone.

    On Saturday, Fannie Ellen Angeline Morgan — better known as Miss Fannie to the local population — celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by an estimated 300 relatives and friends who packed into the 1st Baptist Church of  Whitley City to wish her well.

    While turning 100 is certainly an achievement in itself, Miss Fannie stands out because of her dedication to staying active. She may be the only centenarian who works five days a week.

    Fifty years after embarking on her first career as a teacher, in 1972 Miss Fannie started keeping the books for the medical practice of Winchester Patton & Burgess which was founded by her nephew, Dr. Allen Winchester. Though he has since retired, Miss Fannie continues to handle all incoming checks for the office.

    “The difference between her and me is that she’s on time,” Dr. Jerry Burgess joked during his tribute.

    If she’s not too busy at the office, Miss Fannie has a standing appointment every Thursday afternoon at the Bestway Beauty Shop. Operator Sandy Morrow marvels at how Fannie can tell you not only about her own family but she can tell you all about your family as well.

    “She knows everyone and she tells me something new just about every week,” Morrow said. “They say that everyone you meet leaves a piece of themselves with you and you leave a piece of yourself with them. With her, it’s really true.”

    Pauline Stephens agreed, saying that she loves to visit Miss Fannie and get her talking about the past. “She’ll start one story and in the middle, start on another,” Stephens said, “…not because she’s forgetful. She’ll just think of something more important.”

    A member of the Whitley City United Methodist Church, Miss Fannie has also served as Church Treasurer for 65 years. In addition to that, she stays active in the William Whitley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the McCreary County Retired Teachers Association. MCRTA President Sharon Haynes spoke of how Miss Fannie has become her traveling buddy over the last eight years as the pair have attended state meetings together.

    Miss Fannie joined the McCreary County School System in 1932. One of her students at the South Mill Creek School was Dick Taylor. Now 84, Taylor recalled how he transferred from North Mill Creek at the age of 11.

    “It was a three-mile walk but having her as a teacher was worth it,” Taylor said.

    As Dr. Ralph Nevels related how his mother substituted for Miss Fannie so that she could attend the World’s Fair (held in Chicago), she was quick to correct him. The year was 1934, not 1936.

    Though she eventually took a position within the Superintendent’s Office, Miss Fannie would return to the classroom — teaching 6th grade in Fayette County before leaving the field. Dr. Burgess read a tribute from two of her brother John’s daughters which touched on how Fannie passed on her love of reading to them and how that was magnified through “the thousands of students whose lives she touched and made better.”

    While she undoubtedly enjoyed working (as witnessed by her refusal to retire), Elmer Olson — who is married to her niece Betty Jo — spoke of how Miss Fannie turned down several chances at marriage and worked to support her mother, sister and Betty. The Olsons now care for their beloved aunt.

    “The most responsible person in this world is Fannie Morgan,” Olson said.

    Miss Fannie came into the world on November 19, 1911, as one of 11 children born to Wilis H. and Sarah Lawson Morgan of Sawyer. John Bailey, married to grand-niece Sue, presented Fannie with a 159-page family history which included a total of 402 nieces and nephews over five generations.

    To round out the celebration, Miss Fannie received proclamations from Governor Steve Beshear, the Kentucky Senate, Kentucky House of Representatives and the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association. Governor Beshear also inducted Miss Fannie into the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.

    “This is the first time I’ve had a colonel work for me,” Dr. Burgess said before he presented Miss Fannie with a plaque on behalf of WPB. “We love you.”

    Dr. Burgess asked Miss Fannie if she wanted to say anything. “Thank everybody for coming,” was her response.

    As he turned back to the crowd, the doctor urged everyone to mark their datebooks for November 19, 2111. “We’ll meet Fannie here to celebrate 200 years!”

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