World War II veteran, breast cancer survivor and The King's Kitchen volunteer Necia Utz on Tuesday celebrated her 95th birthday and said she has no plans of slowing down.
When Central Bible Church opened the doors of its soup kitchen The King's Kitchen five years ago, Utz was one of the first to volunteer. She serves food every Tuesday and Thursday.
Utz – who moved to Bay St. Louis after her second husband passed away eight years ago – said she always loved to volunteer. When she wasn't caring for her three children, Utz said, she performed various tasks to help out at her church.
"I'll volunteer as long as I'm able," she said. "I like the people I work with and our pastor. It's a good bunch of people. You feel like you're helping someone."
Central Bible Church pastor Mike Ramsey said Utz has been one of the "most faithful, most dependable volunteers we have working at The King's Kitchen."
"Never in all that time has this young lady of 95 ever complained, griped or groaned about not being able to handle the crowds of 100-125 we serve on a daily average," Ramsey said. "I'm amazed at how much she does. She can run circles around many half her age."
Prior to marriage and children, Utz, who was born and raised in Australia, served in the Australian Army from 1942 to 1945 during World War II.
"It was war time and you had to do all you could to help the war effort. Women who weren't nurses weren't allowed in combat," she said. "They gave us clerical work. I was placed at the Army Post Office in Sydney, Australia. We made sure the soldiers got their mail."
During her stint in the Army, Utz said, she worked many long hours and described the post office as a "mad house" due to the large volume of mail that was sent to soldiers.
While she was waiting for the Army to "call her up," Utz met her first husband, an American soldier stationed at a camp outside of Sydney.
Utz said she met him one Sunday afternoon during a harbor cruise.
"The next night, he called me and wanted to date," she said.
After he spent a year in New Guinea, Utz married her wartime sweetheart, who was sent back to the United States prior to the war's end.
After the war, Utz and her six-month-old daughter made the long journey from Australia to Tennessee to be with her husband, she said.
Utz and her first husband were married for 24 years before he passed away.
She and her second husband were married for 42 years.
About six or seven years ago, Utz was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.
Utz underwent a single mastectomy.
"The doctors said I was too old for chemotherapy and gave me a pill," she said. "It never came back. The doctor said I was one lucky woman."
There was also no sign of cancer in her lymph nodes.
Utz is now a grandmother to six and great-grandmother to three.
She also added that The King's Kitchen could use more volunteers, in case the regulars are sick.
But for now, Utz said, she has no plans of giving up volunteering.
"Why should I?" she said.