Mattie Borders, a Waxahachie matriarch and believed by many to be its oldest resident, passed away Monday.
Borders, more commonly known simply as "Miss Mattie," was a little over one month shy of her 106th birthday. She was born Aug. 26, 1912.
Borders moved to Waxahachie in 1918 and began a 26-year career in education, teaching students in Maypearl, Ferris, Midlothian and Waxahachie ISDs. After she retired in 1976, she served as a substitute teacher for 10 years and later founded the West Ellis County Emergency Services — known today as Waxahachie Care — to help the "working poor."
“She was the First Lady of Waxahachie,” previously recalled Robbie Frazier, Borders' daughter. “She was the church secretary forever 80 years at Samaria Baptist Church, was a hometown hero back in 1990, she was also a funeral director, and has done just about it all.”
In March 2016, Miss Mattie and 18 others were inducted into the first class of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame. The following July, she was crowned the inaugural Fourth of July queen at the Waxahachie Senior Activity Center.
She has twice defeated cancer and, in 1991, was named the First Lady of Waxahachie.
Shortly after her 105th birthday, Miss Mattie told the Daily Light that she had "enjoyed life, and I have no complaints with anybody or anything, and I always say ‘count your blessings.’ So I’m thankful."
“I just enjoy people," she added.
Chuck Beatty, a Waxahachie City councilmember, said the news was a "shock." He recalled Borders helping him obtain his first driver's license and writing a letter of recommendation on his behalf to the University of North Texas, where he played football and later transitioned into a four-year career in the NFL.
"She knew me from a little boy to where I am at now. It is a great loss for the community. I know personally, it is a great loss for me," Beatty said.
He added, "I don't think that there is anyone who has had more of an impact in this whole community than Mattie Borders. From being an educator to doing the food bank and caring for others. She was a giant in my lifetime and was a big influence in my life too. She really, really is going to be missed. She lived a long full, fruitful life, not only age wise but with what she did for the entire community of Waxahachie. I know personally that I am going to miss her. I appreciate all of the things that she did for me and for the city of Waxahachie."
Jeanee Smiles, Waxahachie Senior Care Center director, stated Borders was a "pioneer for many women" for her accomplishments and courage to always stand for what was right.
"Being an African American female to do what she did was so empowering for so many women. She battled cancer. She was an icon," Smiles added. "To me, she was an inspiration and absolutely a legend. She always helped others. [...] She will be so missed and I loved her dearly. "
On Saturday, Jamal Rasheed, President and CEO of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame, began the process of potentially renaming Jefferson Street to Mattie Borders Blvd.
"We were hoping that she would be able to see that day. You have to get 85 percent of the landowners on that block to sign and agree and then it goes before the city council, and they will make a public notice and do what they need to do to officially rename the street.”
He added that Miss Mattie would be buried next to her husband, Roy, at Prince Hall Fraternal Cemetery and that she would be greatly missed by the Waxahachie community.
When asked for her secret to a long, happy life, Borders previously told the Daily Light the trick was “going to bed, not drinking, not smoking, and not chasing men."
Most importantly, she added was to "always try to be a good person."