One longtime patient of nurse Nellie Wade said Wade had seen more backsides than most anyone in Wewahitchka.
Wade basked in smiling faces last Saturday as the community gathered at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall to provide a healthy Happy Birthday to a woman who has helped keep them healthy for decades.
Since the end of the Second World War and Harry Truman was President.
Wade turned 90 this year, one week prior to last Saturday’s celebration.
And she continues to show up for work every day, treating the patients of Dr. Michael Barnes, one of the last family physicians in the area.
She does the weighing, the blood pressure checks, the checking of temperature and gauges what brings each patient in that day.
And as another patient put it, she gives good shots.
She is, by nine years, the oldest practicing nurse in Florida, according to research done by Barnes.
“I am not doing anything but putting in my time,” Wade said with the Cheshire smile and gleaming eyes with which she greets every patient.
“My kids are all grown. What else would I do?” she said with a shrug belying the boundless heart beneath.
Therein lays the beauty, the grace of Nellie Ann Wade who came out of the military as a nurse and found her way to the small community of Wewahitchka, where what passed for major thoroughfares were dirt roads.
“She came here out of the military and just fit right in,” said Feraldine Greer. “Her energy level is just phenomenal.”
Since 1946 or so, she has aided a lineage of medical professionals from Wewahitchka, named Anderson, Canning and, for the past 15 years, Barnes, who would attest he remains active in significant part due to Wade.
And through those decades, she has helped “raise” generations, knowing them by name just as they know her, especially for those shots which go in smooth as warm butter.
“She is a legend,” said Christy Smith, receptionist at Barnes’ office. “Everybody knows her and she knows everybody. First thing when anybody in town feels bad, they call to see Ms. Nellie.
“She’s a go-getter. She knows just what to tell people, how to make them feel better. She’s just Ms. Nellie. She is one of a kind. I tell her all the time when I grow up I want to be like her.”
But as was clear last Saturday, there is really only one Nellie Wade.
As Smith said, “They broke the mold.”
And as the community gathered to feast, enjoy a birthday cake, hand out presents to their nurse, their neighbor, their loved one, they treasured that the mold wasn’t broken until Nellie Ann Wade arrived in Georgia some 90 years ago.
“She has been a blessing to this community over the years,” said one speaker. “She has been a shining spirit for this community.”