‘Great lady of Duplin County’ honored with centennial parade

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An inspiring centennial celebration parade pushed back the threat of dark rain clouds and COVID-19 on the afternoon of Aug. 15 near the home of Matoaka Westbrook in the Woodland Church Community.

Westbrook sat in the shade of her carport while Pleasant Grove and Albertson Volunteer fire department engines, law enforcement, family and friends paraded by. Music blared from the speakers of local DJs as a close family friend, Murry, rode his bicycle from nearby B.F. Grady School. An Elvis impersonator rode in a convertible and stopped to dance for Matoaka and to show her his blue suede shoes.

Westbrook celebrated her 100th birthday Friday with her family. She grew up near Folkstone, North Carolina, and moved to Duplin County after graduating high school. Family friends say she has been a faithful friend to her county, church and community.

She and her late husband, Joe, operated Westbrook Country Store for many years. She worked as a licensed practical nurse at Duplin General Hospital for 19 years. And as a beautician, Matoaka Westbrook, served as a counselor to many. She cares deeply for her family and continues to inspire all that will listen to her, imploring all to trust in Christ Jesus.

Many happy birthday wishes were shared Saturday with this great lady of Duplin County. Gov. Roy Cooper is sending a letter of commendation and the “Old North State” award.

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