MARION — Pearl Bassett of Marion has lived a long and full life. On Wednesday, Bassett celebrated her 110th birthday.
"They said I wouldn't be living to be 12 years old because I had asthma real bad," Bassett said. "I just can't believe it. I guess it's just an age, not a number. I have done a little bit of everything. And it's been wonderful."
Bassett has been a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a pioneer in civil rights. Her husband died at the age of 56 and she lived in the house he built for them up until just a few years ago.
Her life story has been truly inspiring. Bassett was a professional beautician and a business owner as a cosmetologist. She also had one of the first female bands in the area called Pearl Cannon and the Cannonballs.
Bassett has survived not only the Coronavirus pandemic but the Spanish Flu as well.
Most notably, Bassett has been a civil rights activist in the community. Her long resume includes being a founder of the Urban League and the NAACP in Marion, she is proud of her work with the Missionary Society and being a Trustee at Allen Temple Church. Her legacy lives on as she was part of the desegregation of the Matter Park Pool in 1955. Also, Bassett was the first Democratic Precinct Chairwoman in Grant County and served as the first Black Secretary for the Grant County Democratic Central Committee.
She has seen and experienced so much in her life. Bassett shares these words of wisdom for those who are keeping up the fight that she helped start:
"You want to keep the good work up," Bassett explained. "We have come a long way, but we still have a long ways to go. But it has been wonderful to work with the people. Meeting different people, what they stand for, what they contribute to the different things in the world. Go ahead and keep the good work up and do the best you can to help somebody. Because God is good."
Bassett's birthday has been celebrated virtually the last two years because of the pandemic.
Her secret to her longevity? One glass of wine everyday.