‘Praise God’ and ‘be good’ are centenarian’s advice

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Clara Richardson of Salisbury turned 100 years old on June 29 and was treated to two special celebrations to commemorate the milestone occasion.

One was held June 28 at Brookdale Salisbury on Statesville Boulevard, where she currently resides, and the second was a family get-together held on her birthday at Blue Bay with approximately 50 in attendance.

Several members of her family, including son Frank Richardson, daughter Robin Richardson and granddaughter Brooke Waller, were at the lunch celebration at Brookdale where Clara was treated to her favorite meal of hot dogs, potato salad and chocolate cake.

Before making her way to the dining room, she was asked if she was going to have a birthday party and if she was looking forward to some birthday cake. And while she didn’t know if she was having a party, she did answer, with a big grin, that a cake “would be good!”

As Clara, who was wearing a tiara that said 100 in the front and a button with the words Birthday Queen on it, along with her daughter and granddaughter made their way into the dining room, the other residents and staff at the senior living center sang Happy Birthday and they serenaded her once more when she took her seat in front of some special gold balloons hanging on the wall, which read Happy 100 B-Day.

When the song concluded, Clara was all smiles, and she said, “thank you, thank you.”

A Salisbury native, Clara was born on June 29, 1924, to Floyd and Annie G. Wilkins, one of seven children.

She was married to the late Frank Alvin Richardson, and they have three children, the late Carol Waller, Robin Richardson and Frank Richardson, and granddaughters, Brooke Waller and Lela Richardson.

Clara graduated from Livingstone College in 1946 and went on to study at John Hopkins in Baltimore. She served as an elementary teacher for many years, and said “they were very nice children and I enjoyed being with them.”

Clara wasn’t just a teacher in the classroom setting, but she was a teacher everyday to her family as well, passing along life lessons to them.

A lesson that she said she taught her children is to “praise God,” and that, along with “just be good” and “listen to your parents” are some words of advice she would pass to the next generation.

Daughter Robin said that she was and continues to be a wonderful mother and devoted her life to them.

“She taught me to live life to the fullest, focus on what you want to do and do it, and she taught us about the Bible,” she said. “She taught me how to live right and do right.”

Son Frank said his mom taught him multiple things including family, being humble and being proud of yourself, as well as “always strive for your best, to do the best you can do in everything.”

The lessons that Clara learned and passed to her children didn’t stop there, but were also shared with grandchildren as granddaughter Brooke said she would spend time with her grandma in the summer and learned many things.

During that time, Brooke said her grandma “would teach me to pray. She would teach me that you should always look good and it makes you feel good. Treat people with kindness. Be sweet. Have manners. Have respect.”

Family was an important part of Clara’s life as Brooke said she would always talk about family and loved her family.

She said she would say, “keep your family first, spend time with family.”

And her family loves her too. Robin said she loves her mama and said “she is wonderful and did everything just right. I’m glad she’s my mama.”

Frank said his mom has always been “very caring and has always wanted to push you further to do well.”

Evidence of this is the fact that all of her children went to and graduated from college, he said.

In addition to her family, Brooke said her grandmother loves God and her church, Soldiers AME Zion, where she is an active member and continues to attend with her granddaughter.

Robin shared a memory of them staying with their grandfather when her mom retired and his making sure they attended Sunday school and church and her mother always helping them get ready to go.

Clara gave praise to God for living to be 100 and said the secret is, “being good and praising God.”

She passed along some additional advice for longevity, which is to “be careful how you do things.”

Several hobbies that Clara continues to enjoy, it was shared, are watching television and movies, along with reading and spending time outside.

As for her favorite shows and books, she said, “I enjoy it all.”

She said that she enjoys her time where she lives and it’s a nice place and her Brookdale family expressed their love to her as well as they wished “Mrs. Clara a happy birthday and many more.”

While many things have changed during her 100 years of life, one thing that has remained constant is Clara’s view of life. When asked what it means to be 100 and what it’s like, she said with a smile that lit up the room, “God is good to you. God is good, yes He is.”