It is rare to live to be 100 years old but one Lillington lady has taken the century mark to another level. She has not only survived for 10 decades, she continues to have a high quality of life which was celebrated with an event Saturday.
Friends, family members and others in the community held an event for Helen Byrd Saturday afternoon
Mrs. Byrd is a lifelong resident of Lillington and continues to live in the house where she lived with her late husband.
Mrs. Byrd grew up in the local area and also attended school at Lillington High School and remembers the community as very different.
Nearly everything was based on the south side of the Cape Fear River during Mrs. Byrd’s childhood.
“Most people only crossed the bridge if they were going to Robert Johnson’s store,” Mrs. Byrd said.
She remembers when paved roads were a luxury for local citizens.
“I remember learning how to drive on dirt streets,” Mrs. Byrd said.
She also remembers hours of playing bridge with friends at the same site where her birthday celebration was held, at Lillington’s Atkins House, a few blocks from her home. Those days are now largely gone.
“I love playing bridge but you have to have four people so I don’t play much anymore,” Mrs. Byrd said.
Mrs. Byrd responded with a smile when asked what the secret to living a healthy and long life is.
“It is simple,” she said. “I walked two miles every day most of my life.”
She continued her exercise routine into her early 90s when a fall and a resulting injured hip made her less active.
She has another secret as well.
“I have a good family that looks out for me,” Mrs. Byrd said.
While Mrs. Byrd lives alone, her son, Sam, lives nearby and stops in on a regular basis.
Mrs. Byrd is the daughter of the late L.M. Chaffin who was a well known attorney in the local area.
Many of her friends as well as leaders from the town joined in her celebration Saturday.
Mrs. Byrd remains active in the community even as she enters her second century of life. She still drives when she needs to and is an active member of Lillington United Methodist Church. She is a member of the administrative board and a former member of the board of trustees at the church.
Mrs. Byrd is a familiar face to many who came through the Lillington and Harnett Central schools.
She retired from teaching in 1983 after a long career of educating students in English. She still remembers the names of many of her students, co-workers and others who have crossed her path.
In addition graduating from Lillington High School, Mrs. Byrd studied at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Following her graduation from that school she continued her studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During her career she was a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators and the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Excellence and Professionalism in Education.
She taught at Lillington High School and moved with her principal, Jerry Ennis, when Harnett Central High School opened.
-Dunn Daily Record