Hundreds Turn Out to Join Teacher Jessie Wah King in Celebrating Her Centennial Birthday

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1_Mother Jessie Wah King, escorted into the hall by her daughters, Hawa Weeks and Marion Roberts

Reveals secret of her long life

The Paynesville City Hall was the scene of a blessed occasion last Sunday as hundreds, including the children, grandchildren and many of her students turned out to join Teacher Jesse Wah King in the joyous celebration of her 100th birthday.

Among the audience were several of Teacher Jesse Wah’s students, who went on to serve Liberia in many outstanding capacities.  Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whom Jesse Wah King taught in the tenth grade at the College of West Africa (CWA), former Vice President and Mrs. Joseph N. Boakai, former Chief Justice Henry Reed Cooper and former Education Minister Evelyn Kandakai and University of Liberia president Ophelia Weeks.

The chief hosts of the occasion were Teacher Jesse Wah King’s children, Mrs. Hawa King Weeks and her husband, Mr. Rocheforte L. Weeks, Jr., daughters Marion Augusta Roberts and Patience King; and several grandsons, Arthur Elliott, Moivee Roberts, Seigbeh Roberts, Bai Shephard and Sajumah Kromah, all of whom, like the three daughters, flew in from the United States for the unique and joyous celebration.

Both former President Sirleaf and former Vice President Boakai spoke warmly of what a wonderful and kind teacher Jesse Wah was and how she had made a lasting impression on them and all her students.

CWA alumni, who were taught by Mrs. Jessie Wah King, sing their school ode. Pictured (in no apparent order): Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Dr. Togba-nah Tipoteh, Cllr. Henry Reed Cooper, III, Carney Johnson David Farhat and Mae Gene Best, among others.

Jesse Wah King was born in Lexington, Sinoe County to Grebo parents who were born in Pleebo, Maryland County.  Her father, the Rev. James Louis Wah, a Methodist pastor, was assigned to Sinoe where she was born on May 24, 1919.  Her Mother was Mrs. Minnie Wah.

In 1934 at 15, in the fifth grade, Jessie’s parents sent her to Monrovia to enroll at the Monrovia Methodist Seminary, the institute that later became the College of West Africa.  She graduated from CWA in 1941, receiving her high school diploma.  Shortly thereafter she was awarded a scholarship to enter the Teacher Training program at the St. John’s Episcopal Mission (EHS) in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County.  There she trained as a teacher.  It was during that period that the beautiful, long haired Jessie was besought  by a man named Tonie King,  who pleaded for her hand in marriage.  But she told him that she was already in love with a Monrovia man named Robert Gooding, younger brother of the Rev. Father T.J.O. Gooding.  But Mr. King, who was at the time business manager of the Episcopal Church, was persistent and showed her many kindnesses, including a regular supply of chop boxes while she was at Bethany, the girls department at EHS.  Mr. King’s kindnesses worked and in 1942 they were married.

The marriage was blessed with five children, Dr. Minnie King Dunbar, Mrs. Hawa King Weeks, Mrs. Marion Augusta Roberts, Mr. Julius Augustus King and Ms. Patience King.

Mother Jessie Wah King take a bite of the cake prepared for her 100th birthday

But this pretty young lady from Pleebo,  Maryland County, it seemed, was destined to face serious competition from the Vai ladies of Grand Cape Mount, because all of Tonie’s friends, even though married to educated young women in town, each had a Vai girl in some Grand Cape Mount village.  Tonie King seemed unable to stand the pressure from his colleagues and so he to found his Vai girl and demanded a divorce from Teacher Jesse.  In the face of many threats from him, Teacher Jesse agreed to the divorce.  It was in the face of these threats also that one of her church mates at the Church of God in Christ on Broad Street, Crown Hill invited her to come and stay with her and her family at her home on Benson Street, Crown Hill.  The woman was the wife of Mr. Carney Johnson.  Mrs. Johnson wrote a letter stating that she was responsible for Mrs. Jesse Wah King.  And that is how Teacher Jesse entered the Johnson home a first met Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  Jesse Wah King, who never changed her name despite the divorce, remained there for six months until she was able to move out on her own. But the relations between her and the Johnson parents and children became inseparable.  So it was not only because she was Ellen’s teacher that brought the former President to Sunday’s celebration—the relationship ran deeper.

Teacher Jesse Wah King’s children and grandchildren have done exceptionally in education and their professions. Among them are PhD and Master’s degree holders, and they are all professionally engaged and are independent people, part of a close and caring family.

Mother Jessie Wah King at 100.

The Daily Observer asked Teacher Jessie Wah King, who still can prepare her own meals, walk up and down the stairs independently and take care of herself what is the secret of her longevity.

The first thing she said in response was to give thanks to Almighty God “for the quality and quantity of my life.”

She indicated that she had all her life trusted and depended upon God.

Teacher Jessie then said she would like to refer her friends and all people, most especially those who how she has managed to survive all these years and to attain a hundred years of existence on this earth to Ecclesiastes Chapter 12, verse 13.  In this passage of Scripture, Solomon says: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments.  For that is the whole duty of man.”

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