107 years strong

Published 7:49 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016

“They say I’ve lived a long time. I don’t feel like I‘ve lived a long time,” said 107-year-old Elizabeth Brown.

Brown celebrated her birthday on Sept. 18, surrounded by family and friends. Though she received many presents, she didn’t have a favorite gift. “I liked them all,” she said with a smile. In recent years, her birthday celebrations have been special. Last year, she said, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama sent her a birthday letter.

Brown has been a resident of Charlotte County all her life, except for just a few years spent in New Jersey.

Now, she lives in Drakes Branch, where she continues her life practice of spreading kindness and faith to all those she encounters. She said, “I love everybody. I don’t know everybody though.”

“I see so much on TV,” she said, and asked, “How can these people hurt one another like they do?”

Brown encouraged everyone, young people especially, to pray and go to to church. “Praying don’t hurt nobody.”

Her granddaughter, Wanda Chappell recited other words of wisdom Brown has shared with her over the years: “Listen to your mama and daddy,” and “Don’t be hardheaded.”

Brown has touched many lives during the course of her own.

Her parents, Essie Carrington and Mary Eliza, raised four sons and four daughters.

Brown married twice throughout her life, both times to a husband named Richard. The first was Richard Roberts, who unfortunately died, she said. Afterwards she met and married Richard Brown.

She raised two daughters, three sons, a stepson and an adopted son. Though she doesn’t know the exact number, she has more than 50 grandkids. She not only has great-grandchildren, but also great-great-grandchildren and even some great-great-great-grandchildren.

Many of her family members live close by, she said. Some live in Richmond, Portsmouth, South Hill, Newport News and beyond.

She said her mother was essential in teaching her how to raise her children and how to be a good person. “My mama was the greatest of all.”

She said her mother was a Christian lady. “She believed in God and she believed in doing what was right.”

Brown’s mom started taking her to Shiloh Baptist Church when she was a little girl. She said she would walk to the church barefooted and then her mom would clean her feet and put shoes and socks on her.

She still goes to that church, more than 100 years later. She said she loves to go to church.

“God showed me how to be nice to people, and he is nice to me,” Brown said.

Throughout her life, Brown has also enjoyed tending to her garden and sewing quilts. In addition to helping raise countless children, she has raised hogs, chickens, a cow and a dog or two.

One dog, she said laughing, was her favorite. He would follow her when she left each morning and would be waiting for her when she got home.

“The dog would look people up and down if they sat in her chair,” Chappell said.

“I’m glad I was here to help the ones who needed someone to help them along,” Brown said of her long and happy life. She said the reason for her success is her faith in God.