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Sally Deese gives back to county's seniors

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Golden Age of Merit is 1:30 p.m. Sunday

By Greg Summers

Many Americans view Memorial Day as the holiday that ushers in summer.

Others see it as the end of the school year and a time of pomp and circumstance that surrounds high school graduation.

For some, it is a holiday to rightfully honor the forgotten men and women who served and died to protect America’s freedom.

But at least one woman – Sally Deese – sees Memorial Day weekend as a chance to say thank you to a group that’s near and dear to her, and that’s what she does through the Golden Age of Merit dinner.

Held the Sunday before Memorial Day at Four Oaks Farm in the Buford community, Deese has been preparing the dinner, which is open to any senior citizen age 55 and older, for 21 years now.

The Golden Age of Merit Dinner only has one rule: no children are allowed.

Deese, a retired caterer, enjoys putting together the dinner as much as her guests.

The reason she does it is simple,  she said. It’s God’s calling on her life.

The Golden Age of Merit Dinner is her burning bush experience.

Deese still recalls the Sunday in 1989 when God spoke to her during a church service. Deese said before the sun went down that day, she heard God’s voice two more times inside her home and “the third time he spoke with force.”

She said any task that God calls you to do, he will equip you to do. 

“From that day on, I haven’t been afraid of any of this, not even buying the food,” she said. “It’s not a strain. I can still pay my bills and I never get tired.”

Deese believes that we were put here to serve, not be served and reaching out to the county’s seniors is her way of giving back.

“I could sit at home, I could travel or do something like that, but that’s not me,” she said. “To see old folks happy and enjoying themselves is my life. It’s what I live for.”

While family and friends help with the serving, Deese does all the cooking herself on a massive stove that can cook 22 pots at once.

It was donated to her by Duracell in 2002 after the battery maker shut down its employee cafeteria.  Deese puts it to good use in preparing Sunday’s wide array of meats, vegetables and desserts.

She said Joe Blackwell, owner of Lancaster Frozen Foods, loans her a refrigeration truck so she can do the prep work in advance.    

Deese said she is thankful that God had given her such a special ministry for seniors. Deese may be 66 now, but she said she’s never too old to learn.

“They have so much wisdom,” she said. “It gives me joy to see them eating, laughing, talking and just enjoying themselves.”

Want to go?

WHAT: Golden Age of Merit Dinner; anyone age 55 and older is invited. Children are not allowed.

WHEN: 1:30 p.m to sunset Sunday

WHERE: Four Oaks Farm, 2621 Walnut Road, in the Buford Community (off Camp Creek Road). To get there from S.C. 9 Bypass, turn left onto Camp Creek Road and go 9.3 miles to Walnut Road and turn right. From North Rocky River Road, turn left onto Camp Creek Road, go 1.1. miles and turn left onto Walnut Road. Go 0.2 miles; Deese’s home is the blue house on the right. 

INFORMATION: (803) 283-1964