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Rowan celebrates 101st birthday

Published 8:46am Friday, August 30, 2013

“I like things that match,” Merita Rowan said, minutes before blowing out the candles on her birthday cake celebrating her 101-year birthday at Memorial Manor Tuesday. Rowan, who had her own business in Bainbridge for years, sat in the family room of the facility with several relatives and employees to celebrate her centennial year, plus one more.

Wearing a Christmas red suit, red, suede ballet flats and red-framed glasses—she certainly matched for her birthday.

When asked if she ever thought she would live as long as she has, she admitted it was a really long time and said she just takes life day by day.

“I just live from year to year,” Rowan said, and when asked her secret to longevity she added “Well, I reckon I have good genes.”

Rowan started a dress shop in the square decades ago where she sold and arranged dresses that matched in the window and around the store. Her niece, Rita Davis Enfinger, remembers working in the store during the summers.

Enfinger said Rowan owned and operated Merita’s, a dress shop on the square.

“Sure did,” Rowan spoke up about her store, which was almost called Rita’s, but someone advised her to use her full name instead.

“When I was a little girl I would put the clothes on the racks and help,” Enfinger said, only remembering that Rowan had, “everything in the store just arranged perfectly.”

Rowan was widowed after her husband died suddenly of a heart attack and left her to run the store on her own, Enfinger said. But Rowan prevailed, persevered and happily kept going to the fashion markets in Atlanta, where she would put together dresses and outfits she would take back to display in her store.

Picking up many taupe accessories, she said she loves things that match—that is her passion.

“I have always liked clothes and people that can converse with each other and agree and a lot of times some people don’t agree because they don’t understand each other,” Rowan said, who reminds Memorial Manor employees daily to, “think before you speak.”

Rowan’s favorite part of Bainbridge is First Baptist Church and its people, where she has sang as a soprano in the choir for years and hopefully will for years to come.

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