Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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August 22, 2013

Woman of the Century

Berry second Lakewell House resident to pass century

By CLINT FOSTER

Everyone wants to know the secret to a long and happy life. For Lakewell House resident Bessie Berry, there is no secret, just an all-around positive attitude.

Berry turned 100-years-old on Wednesday, joining DeLois Duncan, 101, as the second resident living in the Mineral Wells retirement home to eclipse the century mark. The entire Lakewell House community was on hand for a birthday party Wednesday afternoon. Ken Elliott serenaded residents and workers alike with his guitar as patrons enjoyed cake and fellowship.

The uniqueness of having not one, but two 100-year-old residents is not lost on the Lakewell House staff.

“It’s amazing,” said Residence Director Sabra Mosier. “You can just imagine the stories they have that they could tell us. We all say we respect and learn from our elders and that’s one thing that makes this day so special. They’re wonderful ladies.”

Berry sat with her oldest daughter of four, Peggy Boone, 78, after the festivities to speak with the Index. Despite her memory and other faculties beginning to fade, Berry had an indomitable spirit of joy that was palpable every time she spoke. She is a woman who had to work hard for everything she got throughout her life, but maintained a humble and grateful attitude.

“How does it feel? Well, I don’t know. I’m happy,” she said with a hearty laugh when asked about her milestone of a birthday.

Having lived 100 years, Berry saw the best and worst of the most tumultuous century in United States history. Two World Wars, the Great Depression, the meteoric rise of technology, civil rights movements and countless presidents are just some of the things her blue eyes have witnessed. But Berry’s story was almost over before it even began.

“I almost burned to death when I was 5 years old,” she said. “I was standing by a fire outside and the wind was blowing and it blew my skirt over a coal. It caught fire and it really burned. Oh, it burned fast. I had on flannel petticoats and things like that. I just burned bad... but I’m OK now.”

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