Thelma Marie McCoy Craddock was honored by family and friends with a celebration of her 100th birthday on Saturday, January 5. Another family celebration was also held on Sunday, January 6, in Charleston.
Born January 4, 1913, Thelma has always been a resident of Southern West Virginia, but her place of birth is unknown.
“She really doesn’t know,” said her son, David Craddock.
Her first seven years of life were spent in Logan, Mingo and McDowell counties, moving where ever her father took a job.
“We moved 17 times in one year,” said Thelma. “My father could pull more coal than anybody in the mines. First one then another would come and hire him and take him off somewhere else. Well, we moved — often.”
Thelma was married at 16 and by the age of 20 she was a widow after her husband died from injuries sustained in a mining accident.
She met her second husband, Moss Craddock, during her first husband’s wake.
“He knew Mason,” said Thelma. “His brother Willis introduced me to him. Of course, I didn’t think anything about him. We didn’t date any for three or four months.
When we started dating he wanted to get married at Christmas time and I said no, I don’t want to get married. He said I’ll be good to you and I said I don’t doubt that but I don’t need you. He said I’ve got a home and I’d like to put you in it and let you take care of it. I said I don’t want it. But he kept coming. When it came time for his birthday on the fifth day of May… He kept talking about his birthday… I finally said ‘Oh, all right, we’ll get married on your birthday.’”
Thelma and Moss married on May 5, 1930. Moss was also a widow and had a daughter, Helena.
“We married and I raised Helena,” said Thelma.
Their children include Helena Craddock White, Lillian Craddock (who was stillborn), Eula Juanita Craddock Davis, Louis Moss Craddock and Larry David Craddock.
Following their marriage, Moss served as a Freewill Baptist Minister for more than 40 years, from 1950 until his death in 1993. He was also a superintendent at Merrill Coal Company which was located where Chief Logan State Park is.
Thelma worked in many places, including the Merrill Coal Company’s company store at Henlawson, the Kopy Kat, Pete’s Restaurant in Logan and serving as Post Master at Pecks Mill.
“Grandmother lived with us and helped raise us,” said David. “Dad worked every day and preached every night. Mom worked every day and went with him every night.”
“I didn’t pay much attention to what went on… you’ve got a family… you’ve got to wash clothes, iron them and put them back where they belong… and cook meals,” said Thelma. “Moss was a preacher and a pastor, so I had to work at that too. I was busy.”
She’s still busy, she cooks everyday,” said David.
Thelma has beat cancer three times.
“Three different kinds of cancer,” said Thelma. “Right now, I’ve got glaucoma; I had to give up my driver’s license about two years ago.”
At the age of 87, Thelma’s right leg was severed off in a car wreck. It took seven surgeries to completely reattach the leg.
“She laid flat of her back for seven months in Charleston,” said David.
“They took me and the other boy back in there and tested us for being drunk,” said Thelma. “No, I had never been tested for being drunk, but they were trying to prove me drunk, but I wasn’t.”
Thelma said she has had a good life and began serving the Lord about 1940. She says her long life is attributed to her faith in God.
“If you serve the Lord you are more apt to live a long life,” said Thelma. “He gives you your breath. He tells you whether you’re going to live or whether you are going to die.”
In place of gifts, Thelma requested birthday well-wishers to bring non-perishable food items. The items were given to a Madison Creek church’s food pantry.
And yes, Thelma is related to Randall McCoy of the Hatfield-McCoy feud fame.
“He was my grandfather’s brother,” said Thelma.