Grayce Cabage went to the monthly meeting of the Blount County Republican Women to swear in the new officers. What she found when she got there was a packed room of folks wanting to wish her a “Happy Birthday.”
The surprise party was in honor of Cabage’s 90th birthday.
“It never dawned on me the gathering was for my birthday,” Cabage said of the crowd that showed for her party. “I really appreciate it.”
Bobbie French of Maryville has known Cabage since 1962. “The best thing is she doesn’t look or act her age,” French said. “It’s hard to pull the wool over Grayce’s eyes, but this time, we did it.”
“I think it was a surprise,” said incoming Blount County Republican Women president Fonda Angel.
“She is 90 years old, and she is great,” Angel said. “She’s been at everything (for Republican Women), and we couldn’t have done it without her.”
Fonda said the majority of Blount County’s elected officials turned out to wish Cabage well. State Rep. Bob Ramsey had sent a plaque and letter honoring Cabage’s years of service to the Republican Party.
Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said many of his generation view Cabage as one of the matriarchs of the Blount County Republican Party. “She and lots of others are so responsible for bringing us to where we are today politically,” the mayor said.
Cunningham said when he first became active in the local party 40 years ago Cabage taught him a lot. “She was always very kind to me and was always supportive of me, particularly in my 13 years when I was chair of the Republican Executive Committee,” he said. “She’s a mentor and a friend.”
Blount County Republican Party chair Susan Mills said Cabage is a stalwart in the party. “Grace has forgotten more than I will ever know. She is knowledgeable and enjoys working for the Republican Party and has held several positions with the Tennessee Republican Federation of Women,” she said.
Blount County commissioner Mark Hasty said he remembers as a teen going with his family to Cabage’s home and visiting with her. “The first time I heard about politics was from her,” he said. “She told me, ‘Vote Republican.’ I was in about 8th grade.”