Willie Spann celebrates 101 years


Willie Lee Spann Sr. was given a 101st birthday celebration by his niece, Terry Chatman, and other family members on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, at Chapel AME Church, Paxville. Approximately 101 people were in attendance.

Willie, affectionately known as "Lee" and "Bubba," a nickname given to him by his older sister, was born on Sunday, Jan. 20, 1918, in the Paxville community of Clarendon County, to the late Willie and Carrie Lou McFadden Spann. He grew up on the family farm.

Willie is the widower of Arlena "Lene" Wilson Spann, to whom he was married for 62 years. Willie met his future wife while he was singing with a gospel quartet at a singing program in Lee County, Virginia, where "Lene" lived. They married in 1952. They moved to Washington, D.C., and later to Seat Pleasant, Maryland, where their six sons and a daughter were born.

Willie worked at the Pentagon for a number of years delivering newspapers. He also worked as a District of Columbia police officer.

Willie converted one of the family cars into a taxicab and drove a cab for a number of years before returning home to Manning, where he has resided since 1971. Willie had a passion for driving a cab and was employed by Yellow Cab Co. of Sumter for 14 years. He was known and recognized for having the cleanest cab on the streets of Sumter.

Willie had a special professional relationship with the owner of Yellow Cab and Mayor Joe McElveen of Sumter. Willie was awarded for driving one of the first cabs in the fleet of 18, cab No. 5.

Willie considers his biggest accomplishment in life to be that of a cancer survivor of more than 12 years.