Happy 100th birthday, Lillie Belle

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

ALBANY -- Talk to Lillie Belle McLemore and she seems to talk more about the opportunity in the present moment rather than her 100 years.

"I didn't do anything. The good Lord gave it to me," said McLemore at her birthday party. "I think it is exciting to see my family and friends all here together."

Although she turns 100 today, about 100 people gathered Saturday at McLemore's church, Sunnyside Baptist on South Mock Road, to wish her a happy birthday.

Asked if she had a wish on her birthday, McLemore didn't hesitate, "I just wish this war would end."

That was typical of her friends and family said.

She always thinks of others, whether it is to help in a small way with some sewing or in a big way such as wishing for an end to the war.

"I think her secret is that she serves others. She is always doing something for somebody. She keeps active," said granddaughter Sherry Varney. "She lived and worked here all her life. She pickled olives in mayonnaise at a factory. Worked at the Arrow Shirt plant. She worked for SOWEGA Council on aging until she retired at 88."

McLemore keeps busy these days with a crochet club, Bible club and her church family among other things, Varney said.

People at the party gathered around a table with photos of McLemore on display, sang happy birthday as 8-year-old Anna Howell played the tune on piano for her great-grandmother and watched a video of photos and scenes from McLemore's past.

And what a past she witnessed, said her grandson Al Howell in an introduction to the video.

Consider the years since McLemore was born in 1910.

In 1910 William Taft was president. There have been 17 presidents since Taft. One president was assassinated.

The world engaged in two world wars ending one with an atomic bomb. Television appeared and became a common denominator. Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Computers and cell phones brought in the 21st century.

Howell said that through it all McLemore gave and inspired love by living a life involved with those around her. Perhaps one of the youngest voices at the party summed up the feelings everyone had for McLemore.

"I just think it is so cool that she is 100," said Howell's daughter Anna. "Because she is my great-grandma and I love her."