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Ruby Brawner celebrates a rosy 75th
Family, friends gather for community volunteer
Guests at Ruby Brawner’s 75th birthday party sing happy birthday to the guest of honor on Saturday at First Baptist Church on Green Street. - photo by Robin Michener Nathan

The basement of the First Baptist Church on Green Street was decorated with rose-colored napkins and white tablecloths to mark the birthday of one of Gainesville’s most treasured citizens.

Ruby Brawner turned 75 on Saturday and celebrated it with about 200 friends and family members.

"At age 75, she’s ready to receive and let us give to her. We’re so thankful to have her," said Brawner’s daughter, Shirley Stephens, who wore a rose-colored dress to match the decorations.

"It’s mama’s favorite color," she explained.

The rose-colored banner above the main table had Brawner’s picture on it and was inscribed with Happy Birthday and her signature quote, "Truly, truly."

Brawner stood by the door for the first half-hour, greeting everyone who walked in. Every visitor seemed excited to see the guest of honor.

"It feels good to see people appreciate me while I’m alive," Brawner said about the turn out. "I’m overwhelmed with joy and I will never forget this day."

Among the guests were her former pastor the Rev. Mark Thomas, Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic, the Rev. Isaac Whitehead from First Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Boulevard, and Brawner’s beautician and best friend for 48 years, Kelly Lipscombe.

Lipscombe, a Gainesville resident, became friends with Brawner when they started talking about life during Brawner’s hair appointments. Lipscombe says their strong friendship involves a lot of good conversation about life and the Bible.

The party was put together by Brawner’s four daughters, Shirley Stephens, Sandra Harris, Yonnah Stovall and Caroline Millsape. The daughters had been planning it since June 2007. As they planned the party, Brawner would keep giving them names of people she wanted there.

"Everyone here, she has touched in one way or another," Harris said.

"We worked so hard to make her happy. We wanted to do it now and make it special for her three-quarters birthday," Stephens said.

Aside from fellowship, the afternoon party also featured food, prayer and song. Brawner’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren presented a slide show after the meal which featured pictures of her with family members and being active in the community. A toast also was made in Brawner’s honor by her son, the Rev. Wallace Brawner Jr., who traveled from Louisville, Ky., with his wife, Betsy, and children.

Brawner received a number of gifts at the party and was served some five different kinds of cake and pie. When asked what birthday she looks forward to now she said, " I’m looking forward to 100."

Brawner also said she is "looking forward to the Lord letting me live to see my granddaughter grow."