A celebration of the 95th birthday of Gladys Olive Staley was held June 24,  in the fellowship hall of Millers Creek Baptist Church. The event was given by her three children and their spouses, Philip and Betty Staley, Jane and Jim Blackburn and Darrell and Marlayne Staley.

The fellowship hall was decorated in the honoree’s favorite colors of pink and blue. A floral arrangement featuring blue delphinium, miniature pink roses and various white and green summer blooms graced the cake table. The table was overlaid with a white vintage tablecloth hand crocheted by the late Olla Mae Miller, a longtime family friend. The birthday cake was vanilla with buttercream icing and decorated with hydrangea and rose designs on a white background.

Guest tables were covered in cobalt blue and topped with clear vases of white and blue hydrangea and pink miniature roses. The clusters of hydrangea were a special gift from Dawn Ward, gathered from the homeplace of her parents, W.M. and Isabel Colwell.

Following the invocation given by the Rev. Steve Faw, guests were served cake, punch and other refreshments, Mrs. Staley greeted and reminisced with her guests and received many good wishes.

Mrs. Staley was born June 20, 1922, in Wilkes County, to Candis Miller Harless and Tom Harless. She grew up in a family of 10 children in the Piney Ridge community in the county’s northwest section near the Ashe County line.

Five maternal uncles and their large families lived nearby. She has many good memories of growing up playing over the mountainside with her siblings and many “Miller cousins.” She recalls a happy childhood filled with lots of hard work and play, church and school activities and exciting outdoor adventures. There was an abundance of nutritious home cooked food, often shared with friends, family, and anyone else who might come by in need of a good meal.

Some of the life skills Mrs. Staley honed during the years of the Great Depression, such as growing, preserving and preparing food, evolved into lifelong passions. For many years, she enjoyed gardening, canning and cooking for friends and family. Mrs. Staley is renowned for her cooking, including fried chicken and biscuits and enjoyed her garden, especially growing dahlias and fields of pumpkins.

She married Royal Cleveland Staley in 1945, after he completed his overseas military service at the end of World War II. The couple then settled on their farmland in the Wilbar community, where they lived along the Reddies River and adjacent to Rendezvous Mountain. Three children were born to their marriage. She was a homemaker and later worked at Walmart for several years following her husband’s death in 1982. She is a longtime member of Union Missionary Baptist Church.  

Her grandchildren are Jamie Blackburn, Candace Blackburn Betbeder, Mark Staley, Laura Staley and Meredith Staley.  Great-grandchildren are Savannah and Mason Blackburn and Graysen, Jillian and Caroline Betbeder.

Mrs. Staley now resides at Villages of Wilkes Assisted Living in North Wilkesboro, where she participates in many activities.

She expressed thanks to  her family members, the Rev. Steve Faw and wife, Ruth, fellow church members, The Villages of Wilkes staff, and all other friends who have prayed, visited, called, and provided music, song and other spiritual support and encouragement throughout her life transitions.

Above all, Mrs. Staley, said that she gives thanks to God for blessing her with a long life of good health, a loving family and many good friends. She said that her secrets of a well-lived life are reading the Bible daily, praying, living a clean life, being friendly, loving people and using lots of Pond’s skin cream.

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