Class of 1924

Nell Meadows has seen the turn of two centuries in her lifetime

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Class of 1924

Nell Meadows and her caretaker, Sherry Bryce, reminisce about her days at the State Normal School.

Photo by: Andrew Davis Tucker

At age 109, Carrollton resident Nell Meadows is believed to be UGA’s oldest living alumnus.

A school teacher for most of her life, she earned a bachelor’s degree in education from UGA in 1939, and prior to that a certificate from the State Normal School in 1924. The State Normal School was Georgia’s training facility for rural teachers. The campus now is the site of the U.S. Navy Supply Corps School in Athens.

“I always enjoyed teaching,” Meadows says. “That’s all I wanted to do, teach.”

Never married, Meadows taught in Fayetteville, Tallapoosa and Winder elementary schools before moving home    to Carrollton to care for her ailing mother more than 50 years ago. Once there, she worked for a while writing news for a local paper, but then got a job as a third grade teacher at Maple Street School. 

“I enjoyed the children. Some of them were smart… some of them were kind of dumb,” she says with a giggle.

Meadows lives in the house where she was born and raised. Then it had no running water or electricity. She remembers hauling in coal for the fireplaces. The first phone, she recalls, hung on the wall and had a bell. To make a call, you rang the operator who connected you to your party. Like most people in that era, Meadows traveled by horse and buggy. 

Meadows’ caretaker, Sherry Bryce, first met Meadows 14 years ago when she came to clean her house once a week. Meadows was 94 and still doing most of the housework, but needed help with the more difficult tasks. Bryce now is there every day. Meadows has been confined to the bed since she broke her leg a year ago. Before that she was mobile.

Though she has no close kin left, former students sometimes stop in to visit. Bryce surprises them by showing them Meadows’ roll books, which she kept from every class she taught.

“She’s still a teacher too,” Bryce says. “I’ll write something and she’ll say, ‘That’s not right.’”

“It’s unbelievable to know somebody that has lived this long and can tell the kind of stories she can.”