Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Four Centenarians Share Their Secrets

Published: September 18, 2008 01:24 am

CITY OF LOCKPORT: Four centenarians honored at Dale Association
By Bill Wolcott
E-mail Bill
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

One of these things doesn’t belong here: Work hard, don’t worry, reflexology, cake and ice cream.

Actually, they were all cited as reasons for longevity at A Centenarian Birthday Celebration at the Dale Association on Wednesday.

• Helen Whitwell, 102; Loraine Clark, 100; Leetah Brown, 104; and Ada Baes, 101, were honored by the Niagara County Office for the Aging and the Niagara County Bicentennial committee. There are 27 people in the county who are 100 years old and some could not attend the centenarian parties.

The Dale Association dining room was filled with family, well-wishers and seniors who come regularly for lunch. There was cake and ice cream for dessert.

• Leetah Brown, who was born in Pennsylvania, was married twice and had no children. During World War II, she worked in an ammunition factory.

“I hauled 4,000 pound of bombs behind me to the shipping room,” she said. “That made me so I don’t fear everything.”

Her secret for longevity: “The Lord made me that way. I haven’t done anything special to keep me older,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of sickness in my life, but I recovered. I’m just tough.”

Brown has been practicing and teaching reflexology since 1980. Great niece Debby Dearborn said: “She’s very involved with holistic medicine. That has a lot to do with why she’s lived so long.”

• Ada Baes and Helen Whitwell helped get the Dale Association going. Baes volunteered at the front desk. Helen and Al Whitwell built the snack bar, using wood from a barn.

Baes, a Lockport native, came to the Dale Association after retiring from teaching in Akron for 22 years. She has two sons and enjoys listening to music.

• Helen Whitwell, taught school 35 years in Lockport and Gasport. In 1930, she started a public/private school for families who were not happy with the Lockport schools. She and her husband helped build the Dale Association.

His grandparents had a tavern on Ridge Road that was visited by the Marquis de Lafayette, who ate in the kitchen with the family.

Her secret? “She drinks goat milk every day,” said her daughter, Doris Whitwell. “She has for years and years.”

• Loraine Clark’s mother died during childbirth when she was 2. Her father remarried and the family grew to 10 children.

Loraine and Lewis Clark operated Clark’s Charcoal Grill for 23 years. The summer place served grilled foods, but was famous for its homemade pies. “Only eat things that I like,” Loraine said. “I never eat anything I don’t like.”

Hard work has carried her for a century.
“We would sell 100-125 pies and make them the same day,” Loraine said. “It was famous. People came from Rochester.”

Loraine and Lewis had four children, and 14 members of the family attended the lunch. One son who lives in Arizona was not in attendance, but did come to her 100th birthday celebration in May.

“She doesn’t worry too much. She lets every day take care of itself,” said son Donald Clark who lives in East Aurora. “She’s our inspiration.”

“Attitude is a big thing with her,” daughter Rita McGuinnes. “She’s not a worrier. She very seldom gets stressed out about anything.”

“She’s a hard worker, no doubt about it,” daughter Lois Steblein said.

Each women received a bicentennial bear and pins and flowers. Mayor Michael Tucker and Sen. George Maziarz, R. Newfane, attended.

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