By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

Runell Brooks Foster, Third Known Oldest Person in Georgia, Gone Home to Her Lord and Savior

Beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt to a host of nephews and nieces, and devoted dear friend, Runell “Mrs. Nell” Brooks Foster, age 110, Matriarch of Loganville, Georgia (Rosebud Road and Highway 78) and the third known oldest person in the State of Georgia, went home to her Lord and Savior on Friday, October 21, 2016.

Born March 27, 1906, “Mrs. Nell” was the youngest of 12 children born to George B. Brooks and Emma Palmer Brooks.  She was a 1925 graduate of Grayson High School and in 1928 married her high school sweetheart, Clyde E. Foster.

Foster Runell Keepsake190A devoted follower of Christ, Runell was an active member of Grayson First Baptist Church as long as her health permitted.  She served as pianist, Sunday school teacher, on WMU committees and in preparation of the Lord’s Supper.

She was involved in her daughters’ school activities and in community and civic endeavors.  Her many talents included cooking, known especially for her delicious caramel cakes, sewing clothing for herself and daughters, crocheting, home decorating and gardening (vegetables and flowers).  Mrs. Nell enjoyed eating vegetables from her garden, but also loved to order Papa John’s pizza, eat cheeseburgers and enjoyed a good bowl of ice cream. She delighted in sharing the results of her creations.  

History was made in Loganville back on Saturday, March 28, 2015, when “Mrs. Nell” had the renowned road crossing, where she lived, dedicated in her honor.  On the day before the dedication she celebrated her 109th birthday.  The unveiling of the road sign took place at the former Grayson High School in Loganville where she was a student in late 1920’s at the very first Grayson High School.  The road, dedicated in her honor, where her father built the original store and rock house, thrilled her heart and “Mrs. Nell” said, “Thank you all and I thank you for my parents.  They would be so thrilled.”

“Mr. Clyde” and “Mrs. Nell” operated the store and lived in the “rock house” before Highway 78 was a paved road.  They moved into the “rock house” during the depression to operate the store for her father and she remained there ever since.  According to a relative, “they had the only phone in the area, provided transportation for those who needed it, and provided food for people who were passing through during the hard times of the depression.”  It was also the unofficial bus stop and “Mr. Clyde” would step to the edge of Highway 78 to flag down the bus to stop.  The highway was finally paved in 1938 and during the 1940’s war years, the Foster’s frequently saw Army convoys passing through between Fort McPherson in Atlanta and Fort Gordon in Augusta.  Before the road was widened in 1983, the Foster’s also tended to victims of numerous accidents that happened close to their home at the intersection.

The effort to get the intersection named in honor of “Mrs. Nell” was spearheaded by Loganville Mayor Dan Curry and carried through the Senate by Georgia Senator Gloria Butler.  Mayor Curry and Senator Butler were on hand, along with many others, to dedicate the intersection in “Mrs. Nell’s” honor.  Senator Butler and Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash unveiled the sign, “Brooks-Foster Crossing.”  Proclamations and Resolutions were read from the President, many other Congress representatives, and local public officials.

On Saturday, March 26, 2016, at the Rock Gym in Loganville, a birthday party was held for Nell Brooks Foster.  This was no ordinary birthday party, because the people in attendance were celebrating the 110th year that a special, warm-hearted, beautiful, and kind gentle southern lady had walked among them.  “Mrs. Nell” has been recognized as the third oldest living resident of Georgia.  The following day was a milestone for this wonderful lady who had impacted so many people in her lifetime.  She watched so many children over the years grow up and become teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, and leaders in various communities that surrounded the “rock house.”  At the birthday party that day, Loganville Mayor Dan Curry, a longtime friend said, “It is amazing to be with a person who has experienced so many dramatic changes during the course of her life.  She is an inspiration to us all.”

“Mrs. Nell” was predeceased by her husband of 50 years, Clyde E. Foster in 1978; daughter, Sara F. Miles in 2003 and her husband, Johnny L. Miles in 1986, Patricia F. Williams and her husband, Colonel Royce C. Williams, U.S. Army (Ret.) both in 2013, son-in-law, Verner H. Thompson in 1986; granddaughters, Catherine Williams in 1955, Marie W. Davis in 2011, and Emily M. Kelley in 2002; great granddaughter, Lauren Turner in 1986; 11 siblings, and her beloved parents.

“Mrs. Nell” is survived by her daughter, Mary F. Thompson; granddaughters, Amelia T. Eubanks, Laura T. Allen and husband, Wayne Allen, Jr., and Julia M. Frye; great-granddaughters, Rebekah Eubanks, Caroline Allen and Claire Allen; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and  a host of friends.

The family wishes to express sincere appreciation to Embrace Hospice and for her caregivers, especially the long-time loving care by Geraldine McCaa.

Visitation for family and friends will be held Saturday, October 22, 2016, from 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at Tom M. Wages Snellville Chapel, 3705 Highway 78 West, Snellville, GA 30039.  

The service honoring and celebrating the amazing life of Mrs. Runell Brooks Foster will be held Sunday, October 23, 2016, at 3:00 P.M. at Grayson First Baptist Church with Mrs. Foster placed in state at the church at 2:00 P.M.  Rev. Dr. Tim Brogan, Rev. Dr. Buddy Parrish and Ralph Burton will officiate.  Interment will follow at Chestnut Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, 2299 Rosebud Rd., Grayson, GA 30017.  

For those desiring, in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Grayson First Baptist Church, 2142 Loganville Hwy., Grayson, GA 30017, or Open Arms Foundation, Inc. (Embrace Hospice), 1831 West Evans St., Suite 315, Florence, SC 29501-3303, or Grayson High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, C/O Susan Gerard, 449 Hope Hollow Rd., Loganville, GA 30052.  Condolences may be sent or viewed at www.wagesfuneralhome.com.  Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, LLC, “A Family Company,” Snellville Chapel 770-979-3200 has been entrusted with the arrangements.

 (October 2016)