What is the secret to living a 100 years or more?  Linwood resident, Helen Turner, should know. On April 1, she turned 109 years young! 

I had the privilege of joining the birthday celebration at Helen’s home at Brandall Estates, and joked with Helen that this must be an April Fool’s joke, because she certainly looked and had the energy of someone much younger than her 109 years.

I attended the party with my twelve-year-old daughter who cozied up next to her in a big comfy chair. She questioned Helen all about life when she was a kid.

Helen grew up on a farm in Maryland with no bathroom or electricity in the house.  She took a horse and buggy to high school, and became a teacher where she taught in a one room school house for a few years before moving to New Jersey. Once in the Garden State Helen took a position as an elementary school teacher for the rest of her 38 year career.

For a little perspective, Helen was born in 1907, the president was Theodore Roosevelt, there were only 8,000 cars on the road, the average wage was 22 cents an hour and eggs were 14 cents a dozen. Life expectancy was about 47 and only eight percent of homes had a telephone.  What a difference a hundred and nine years makes!

When I asked Helen the million-dollar question, “What is the secret to living so long?” She quickly laughed, “I knew you were going to say that!”  Obviously, it was not the first time she had been asked that question.  Helen responded that it mostly comes down to having a positive attitude in life.

She also said that she has been very fortunate that “everything has been good”.  Other than the death of her husband, she says she has had a happy and fulfilling life.  She glows when she talks about teaching children as one of the best things she ever did in her life. My daughter’s immediate connection to her made it obvious that children love her as much as she loves them.

Helen’s vision is fading, but she still listens to the news every evening and still walks on her own. She looks fantastic and has a wonderful, lighthearted spirit.  It was my true privilege to meet and be inspired by Helen Turner.  Happy birthday Helen and many, many more.

Robin Stoloff


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