‘Honey Bea’ Mackins marking 105 years with multitude of celebrations

Relda Mackins (left) celebrated her 105th birthday with her daughter, Karen Green, and other family members at the Red Lobster in Tucker, one of many celebrations of her milestone.

For her 105th birthday, Relda “Honey Bea” Mackins had a quiet dinner on Aug. 7 with her only child, Karen Green, and 11 close family members and friends.

Green said they took Mackins to Red Lobster in Tucker because she loves shrimp.

But the celebration started a week earlier in Indianopolis, Ind., on July 28 when Mackins celebrated her birthday with her great-granddaughters Chelsea and Megan Bostick. On Aug. 9, family and friends also took her to Golden Corral on Highway 78 so she could have their peach cobbler, which she loves, and parties are also planned in Michigan.

“She is celebrating all year,” Green said. “When you are her age, you can have as many parties as you like.”

On Aug. 12, her pastor, the Rev. Vandy C. Simmons of Antioch AME Church, took communion to Mackins who –  when her doctor insisted – finally moved in with her daughter in Hidden Hills in Stone Mountain last October.  

Simmons thanked God for his grace towards Mackins, and playfully attributed her longevity to being a member of Antioch.

His birthday gift to her was $105, a dollar for every year of her life.  

Mackins, who became a member of Antioch AME in 2006 when she relocated to DeKalb County, also heard from AME Bishop Stafford J. Wicker, who was pastor when she joined the Stone Mountain church.

When her daughter noted all the well-wishes she was getting, Mackins told her that such attention comes with age.

“You can’t keep the company I do,” Green, 69, said her mother told her. “’You are not old enough yet,’”

For her long life, Mackins credits Jesus Christ for “his guidance to honor your father and mother so that your days will be long here on Earth.”    

She also exercises daily, riding a stationary bike twice a day for 30 minutes, and "every once and a while," she indulges with a little grape wine.

Mackins, who was born on Aug. 7, 1913, in Jellico, Tenn., remembers living through the Great Depression of 1929-1941. Though things were tight for her family, she said she did not go hungry.  

Mackins was married to Henry for 66 years. He died at age 97 in March 2007.

Before moving to DeKalb County, Mackins lived in Williamsburg, Ky., and in Detroit and Jackson, Mich. She was a beautician and salon owner for 30 years, and was a hospital volunteer until the age of 90.

Mackins’ parents died in their 70s and 80s, respectively. While her three siblings died in their 40s and 50 years, she has a first cousin, Irene Maun of Williamsburg, Ky.,  who is 98 years old.

In 2013 when she was 99, Mackins was honored as “DeKalb County Senior of the Year” by the nonprofit DeKalb for Seniors Inc.

Green credits her mother’s long life to her love of Jesus Christ, clean living, helping others, and her passion for the word puzzle, “Find the Words.”

“She never drank, never smoked, and she is always helping somebody,” Green said. “She has always been that way, and she has been riding her stationary bike for a good 30 years.”