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Lake Elliott is one of Oxford’s best

By David Magee

It’s not surprising Lake Elliott has lived to be 105 years old.

If anybody could do it, she could.

But for some of us, hearing that Lake Elliott turned 105 is hard to fathom since we’ve known her most of our lives.

Elliott is someone I remember from my earliest years growing up in Oxford on University Avenue. She and her husband, Dick, lived one street behind us and Dick was mayor in the years we were old enough to bike around looking for mischief.

One friend, who didn’t know where the Elliott’s lived, tossed an egg or two, for no explicable reason, on the Elliott’s driveway before the rest of us knew what was happening. I hurried home, and my mother called Lake, a friend, apologizing.

Lake Elliott laughed, making everything okay.

That was her signature style. She was Oxford’s first lady, long after her husband left the mayor’s office, and relished the role. She was also a prominent businesswoman, involved in the family’s businesses including Elliott’s Jewelry on the Square.

When I was old enough to start working at the newspaper in college Lake Elliott still held a prominent posture in town, involved in clubs and making things happen. By that time she was in her 70s but that was still prime time.

She and Miss Nina, editor of The EAGLE, would get together and laugh and out-funny one another, which wasn’t easy. And she knew the city’s residents by name, those young and old, and readily spoke to them all.

Often when I walk the streets of the town I pass homes like the Elliott’s former residence and see the friendly faces who lived there for so many years. Others live in the homes now, but I find myself doing the thing I remember my parents and their friends doing, referring to each home by who used to live there.

I recall which ones had eggs tossed on them. I remember which ones were struck by lightning. And, I remember which ones invited me in on days I needed a friend.

The Elliott’s home is memorable because Dick and Lake were such an integral part of Oxford for many decades. Lake hosted probably 100 or more gatherings of friends and clubs through the years and undoubtedly each was filled with smiles and laughter.

She was a well-known face of First Baptist Church, and she was Oxford’s Citizen of the Year in the early 1980s. You don’t get that honor without being able to get things done, and Lake Elliott had a competitive streak that made her a force to be reckoned with, though she did her moving and shaking by maintaining a strong presence and posture that made her voice strong.

The list of contributions is long, but all that matters is that she had a grace and style and sense of humor that made her a long-time leader of our community.

That’s why it warmed the hearts of many to see the headlines this week stripped across the newspaper that Lake Elliott, Oxford’s long-time first lady, turned 105 years old.

She’s the oldest resident in Oxford these days, and that seems fitting.

David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. He can be reached at david.magee@oxfordeagle.com.