The Century Mark Hasn’t Stopped Her

Centenarian credits no snacking and kindness as keys

For Frances Cromartie Jones, age is unimportant.

The last 100 years have been nothing short of a blessing to the Dunn lady who still is as active as someone half her age. She still plays bridge with friends every week and still enjoys chatting with those around her.

“It’s wonderful; I can’t believe I am,” she said when asked about reaching the century mark. “I must be because my birth certificate says so.”

If reaching 100 years old isn’t impressive enough, take into consideration what she considers to be the reasons for her longevity.

First there’s the fact she never eats between meals. In all of her years she has consistently declined to have a snack; she says it ruins her appetite for the next meal.

She might not look it, but Frances Cromartie Jones turned 100 years old on Feb. 19. The same day she was given a proclamation naming Feb. 19, 2018, as Mrs. Frances Cromartie Jones Day in Dunn. Ms. Jones is shown smiling for a photo shortly after getting ready for her weekly bridge game.

“I’ve never eaten between meals. I do not eat one bite of anything except three meals a day,” she said proudly. “I attribute my long life and good life and health to that. When I go to bridge or book club, I don’t eat a thing, not one bite of anything.”

Something that may be of a surprise to many, especially those who promote such things, Mrs. Jones admits she’s not really into walking or other forms of physical fitness. She opts instead to just do what she feels comfortable doing.

“I’d just rather sit,” she said. “I’m not much of a walker, but I played a lot of tennis. I used to play tennis a lot.”

When you ask Mrs. Jones about how things have changed over the course of her lifetime, she offers a no-holds-barred insight.

“Everything has changed, to tell you the truth; nothing is like it was when I was a child,” she said. “I’m a little concerned over the shootings and the children having guns and all, then going to school and killing people. It’s just awful, awful.”

Mrs. Jones admits her long term memory is better than what she can recall of late. She especially has vivid and welcome memories of when she was a little girl. Mrs. Jones gives a lot of credit to her mother, Lela, for making it a special and wonderful time in her life.

Mom, The Renaissance Woman

“She was an artist and a doctor and a lawyer, she was everything. She was so smart,” Mrs. Jones said.

One example she offers of her mother’s prowess comes in the form of how she would get patterns to make young Frances’ clothes. She worked in a store owned by Sam Fleischman and took him up on an offer to take anything she wanted home.

“She’d take it home, cut her a pattern out with newspaper and make my clothes,” Mrs. Jones said. “Then she’d take the stuff back to him. They were real good friends, and knew that she could sew and that she was very artistic. He would let her take things home and copy them, then bring them back.”

Mrs. Jones remembers her father, Raymond, who ran Cromartie Hardware.

“Daddy was a great guy. He always carried chewing gum for the little children,” she said.

Walking to work was also something passed on by Mr. Cromartie. Mrs. Jones, who spent her work life in the secretarial field and eventually retired from Home Savings and Loan, boasts of following in her father’s footsteps, literally. “I worked for different attorneys and at the savings and loan, and I’ve been able to walk to work everywhere I’ve ever worked,” she said. “I always walked to work.”

Husband Flew Over Dunn

The longevity of her life isn’t limited to just her age. Mrs. Jones was married to her husband, Earl, who flew B-17 bombers in World War II from September of 1942 until his passing in 2010.

“When he flew overseas to fly 50 missions, he flew over Dunn and circled Dunn about a dozen times on his way to Europe,” she recalls fondly. “He didn’t see me. I was at a friend’s house. My mother was in the backyard waving a sheet at him. He didn’t see me, but he saw Mama.”

The humor in her family wasn’t just limited to Mrs. Jones. Mr. Jones seemed to have the same sense of making people laugh.

“I said, ‘Earl, why didn’t you let your co-pilot take over the plane?’” she said referring to Mr. Jones’ trip around Dunn in the air. “He said, ‘I wasn’t about to turn it over to that 18-year-old boy.’ He said he didn’t know what he’d do. He thought he’d probably buzz everything.”

The couple had three sons — Walt, Wayland and Lynn. Mrs. Jones is the grandmother of four and great-grandmother of seven, with one on the way.

Day In Her Honor

Her humility stands out when she speaks about the honor she was given by Dunn Mayor Oscar Harris. On her birthday, Feb. 19, she was honored with Mrs. Frances Cromartie Jones Day.

In the proclamation, Mayor Harris said she “has lived during the most eventful century in this world’s history and in her quiet way has been a force for good and a stabilizing influence on those around her during turbulent years.”

“That was very nice,” she said. “I really appreciated it very much.”

Mrs. Jones tries to keep everything in perspective when it comes to her longevity and her successes in life.

“I just take everything as it comes and goes,” she said. “I’m thankful for each day.”

As for giving advice to younger people, she offers a simple approach.

“Just be kind to everybody,” she said. “See no race, see only the person. Be kind to your friends and love them because they certainly do help you out.”  Courtesy The Daily Record