Re Published: Written by Ryanne Persinger
Reflections: On Daisy Spears Stroud’s 90th birthday there was a card from President Barack Obama and the First Lady, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor and Mayor Anthony Foxx as a party guest.
“It’s been an interesting life and I plan on continuing to live,” Stroud said. “My sister died when she was 100 years old last year, so I can’t let her beat me.”
It was the roaring ‘20s when Daisy Spears came into the world. Albert Einstein won a Nobel Prize in physics, future president Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted polio, and Coco Chanel introduced Chanel No. 5 perfume.
On Oct. 12, 1921 Stroud was born in the family home on Seventh Street. Her mother, Daisy Ancrum Spears, was a graduate of Barber-Scotia College. Her father, Arthur Eugene Spears Sr., sold insurance. Stroud graduated from the now-defunct Alexander Street School and Second Ward High School at age 15. At 16, she attended Fayetteville State University.
“I had a wonderful childhood,” Stroud said. “Being raised by a black woman who graduated from Barber Scotia College and was trained in nursing was a privilege.” Stroud married the late Gerson Stroud Sr. in July 1942. He was a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and was principal at York Road and West Charlotte high schools. Together they had three children.
The Strouds created the Gerson and Daisy Stroud Foundation to benefit scholarships at their respective alma maters.
“When my husband got sick (with Alzheimer’s) that’s when I started this foundation,” Stroud said. “We helped students graduate. We alternate between giving it to students at JCSU and Fayetteville State.”
Stroud, like her husband, was also an educator, teaching at Billingsville and Oaklawn elementary schools and J.T. Williams Middle School. She retired after 25 years. Stroud’s secret to living a long life?
Eating healthy. “I’m willing to give up anything that might cause me to age,” Stroud said. “I believe in eating healthy. I ate healthy as a child because everything was grown in a garden.”
Stroud says she thinks of her body as a machine. “I have a great circle of family, friends and I stay in prayer,” Stroud added. Jacqueline B. Hairston has been Stroud’s friend for at least 40 years. “Our families lived in the West Charlotte section called Biddleville,” Hairston said by phone from Northern California. “Even though she was older than me, I knew her family.”
Hairston says Stroud loves to laugh and sing. The two are in the same sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, stayed connected through art and Hairston considers Stroud like a big sister. “Even though I’ve moved away she will call me and give me the news of the day in Charlotte,” Hairston said. “She keeps me posted on my hometown.”
God Blessed this wonderful family this weekend in Charlotte.