This Oak Haven Nursing Center Resident Celebrated Her 100th Birthday. You’ll Never Guess What She Owes Her Long Life To.
by James Coulter
Much has happened over the past 100 years. The Great Depression. World War II. The Cold War. The Civil Rights Movement. The Moon Landing. The advent of personal computers and the internet. September 11. The election of America’s first black president.
So many milestones have occurred within the past century.Berneda Witter has lived long enough to see them all. When asked what historical moment stands out most to her, she merely replied: all of them.
“Everything has happened in 100 years,” she said. “In 100 years, everything is important [because] everything happened.”
Berneda Witter recently celebrated her 100th birthday at Oak Haven Rehab and Nursing Center in Auburndale on Tuesday. She was born on Sep. 26, 1923 in Pennsylvania. Much has changed since then.
“Back then, we did not have tractors, we had horses,” she said. “My father used to stand out and watch the Northern lights. [Before that] My grandfather came over to America on a ship. He was alone. He was adopted by two women.”
Berneda had been married for 42 years. She met her husband while roller skating, which she loved to do when she was much younger. She did not have any children or grandchildren.
She worked at a shoe factory for 19 years. Her occupation paid well and offered her a free vacation every year. She considered it a “pretty important job.”
When asked about her thoughts about the moon landing, she replied that such an idea would have been considered quite fanciful when she was born; so that such a technological feat of human ingenuity happened in her lifetime was a true testament.
“We never heard of such a thing,” she said. “Going to the moon and all that stuff, if you had mentioned it, they would not have known what you were talking about.”
As with most people her age, she owes her long life to God. She does not owe it to anything special she did health-wise. Considering when and where she was born, she was amazed she managed to live as long as she has.
“I don’t know what else kept me alive,” she said. “I didn’t do anything special. I was a poor little farm girl. We didn’t have anything special. We didn’t have any of this modern stuff.”
As for how it feels to turn 100, Berneda honestly doesn’t feel any older: “How does it feel? I don’t know. I don’t feel that much different. I do not feel older.”