Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'A Mother to This Church'; Congregation, City Honor Blanche Cobb as She Turns 114

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'A Mother to This Church'; Congregation, City Honor Blanche Cobb as She Turns 114

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

Everyone calls her Mother and they came together Sunday - children, neighbors, church and city leaders - to wish her a happy birthday. Her 114th.

The twinkle in her eyes spoke volumes for Blanche Cleo Arrington Cobb at a special birthday celebration at her church, International Bibleway Apostolic Christian Assembly, 3704 N. Pearl St.

The church pews were packed with family, friends and local elected officials who paid tribute to her: recognizing her unwavering love and faith in God, myriad contributions to the community and her wisdom, which they said they have relied on through the years.

"She is a cornerstone of our church," said Bishop Jimmy Plowden, assistant pastor at the church, which has about 200 members. "She is like a mother to me. I've known her all my life. She's been here before I was here, and she pretty much adopted us in. She is a mother to this church."

Cobb has raised 13 children of whom five are still living, including four daughters in Jacksonville and a son in California, and she has helped raise more than 100 grand- and great-grandchildren. She still regularly speaks to groups, including youth at the Clara White Mission.

Escorted to a place of honor near the pulpit, Cobb smiled, swayed in time with the hymns and raised her hands toward heaven in celebration of God.

When asked to lead a favorite hymn, "In the Sweet By and By," she demurred at first then answered the calls from the congregation.

In a soft but clear voice, Cobb sang the opening lines of the hymn as the audience burst into applause. Throughout the service, she swayed along to the gospel music and raised her hands to the heavens in praise of God.

"I have been blessed because I grew up with my grandmother right next door," her granddaughter Terotha Ray said. "She has always given God praise in everything that she does. ... We love her, and we are truly blessed to have her in our lives."

Ju'Coby Pittman, chief executive officer and president of the Clara White Mission, shared with the audience how Cobb has been an inspiration to her as well as the countless youth in the mission's vocational program. …

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