Holly Springs firefighters sounded sirens for the town’s oldest resident Wednesday, and allowed her to activate the alarm noise a few times herself.

Martha Leach will turn 103 years old in early July. Firefighters visited Leach at home to celebrate her 102nd birthday. They gave her an early present in the form of a parade through the town’s main streets and Main Street on board the department’s newest fire engine.

“You see all of this? This is just special for you, Miss Martha,” Leach’s longtime friend Margaret Prince said as they rode past neighbors holding celebratory posters.


“I’ve been knowing Miss Martha ever since I was about, what, 5 or 6 years old, and I’m old now,” she said with a laugh.

Friends drove Leach to the fire station Wednesday morning where she received a tour and a toy version of a firefighter’s helmet which she wore throughout the day. Then Leach, Prince, and CBS 17’s Robert Richardson boarded Fire Engine #1, driven by firefighter Adam Godfrey.

Godfrey talked about some of the features of the truck, and also asked Leach about her life.

“I feel like someone at that age has life figured out, and I want to know the secret,” Godfrey said. “She said live a stress-free life, and enjoy your home and family. Always be loved by someone.”

Born in 1915 in Wagram, North Carolina, Leach moved to Holly Springs in 1948. She still loves the small town 70 years later.

“It’s the good Lord’s plan for me to be here,” she said.

Leach never gave birth to any kids of her own, but Prince said the soon-to-be 103-year-old has many children, spanning several generations.

“God’s on her side. That’s why. If it weren’t for Him, she might not be here, but He is on her side,” Prince said.

Leach said she planned to spend the rest of her special day “sitting and looking” from her porch, which is her routine relaxation. Her birthday is July 6.