MAKING EACH DAY COUNT: Helen King attributes 100 years to loved ones, happiness

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, April 27, 2022

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For Helen King of Andalusia, Earth Day carried a large amount of significance this year when family and friends gathered for her 100th birthday celebration Friday, April 22.

Affectionately known as “Nanie” to family members, she grew up in Springville, Alabama, and graduated from Springville High School in 1939. She worked at Birmingham Electric until she married Dr. William Green King of Luverne. They were together for almost 49 years.

Helen King of Andalusia celebrated her 100th birthday Friday, April 22, and said happiness and people have led to her longevity and good health. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

“I’ve always been a happy person, love my people, and make each day count,” King said. “I love where I live and have lived in Andalusia for 76 years. My husband was a dentist just out of the Navy in 1946, and we were newlyweds looking for a place to make our home. We had a home on McRainey Loop for almost 11 years and then moved to my current home in 1959. I love my family, and they mean everything to me.”

She said reaching the century mark was unbelievable. “I can’t believe I’m 100 years old. I don’t feel any different yet, but it may slow me down a little bit more. My husband died in 1995, and our three children are Kathy Little, Bill (Kathy) King, and Frank (Jan) King. I’m enjoying my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I’m thankful I have memories of my life, and my children have grown up with all of their activities. I’m able to see our family grow.”

She has served as a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Andalusia for 75 years.

“I’ve been a Christian and gone to church since I was young. I attended church camps, went to Sunday school, sat in worship, was married in a church, and still have activities with my church here, as I’m able. I’ve always been active in women’s work and the young people. My life centers around my faith in God and my devotional reading.”

King follows a typical routine each day.

“I get up, get dressed, and move about. I fix my own breakfast and am usually at home as my health requires me to. I haven’t driven a car in five years because of my health condition. My family takes care of my needs like buying groceries, taking me to get my hair done, or going to church when I’m able. With my daughter-in-law Jan living next door, we go to Oasis at the same time. Julie Kyser is my hairdresser, and all the beauticians in there are my friends,” she said.

Having closeness within her family and sharing their love is important to King.

“They all have lifestyles, occupations, talents, and activities that enrich their lives. I’m so proud of them and hope I inspired them a little bit. I treasure friends to share time and concerns with. I’m fortunate to have lived to spend time with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Due to health problems, I faced a change in my lifestyle. I have to limit my activities and am home more. Have you ever tried coloring books with markers? It’s the most rewarding and restful. I also read large-print books from our city’s library.”

Throughout her lifetime on Earth, she has seen it all with several advancements made.

“When I had my 99th birthday, a friend sent me a card with a greeting, ‘You have a story to tell,’ and besides a long family story, there are many changes in our world. Radio is to smart TV, world news comes quickly, education has improved, religious seminaries have been held, the entertainment world has improved, and communications are easier. There are specialty stores, highways, airways, improved lighting for the city streets in Andalusia, local public entertainment, and preservations of old buildings. I am also thankful the dental practice my husband started is being continued by our son, grandson, and associates with Andalusia Dental Group,” King said.

Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren shared some quality time during an Easter visit Saturday, April 16. The family had cake and ice cream before King was honored with a bouquet of flowers and a reading in the church’s narthex on Easter Sunday. She spent her birthday with her “Friday lunch friends,” went to see more friends at The Teal Gypsy, and sat outside as people drove by her home and waved on her special day.

Helen King stands in front of her home with plenty of decorations during a celebration of her 100th birthday. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

“I delivered Meals on Wheels to local shut-ins for eight years and was a member of the Pine Hills Garden Club. I greeted people at our church’s Love Thy Neighbor event, where we provided food. I receive the meals from our church now since I haven’t been able to drive or work due to my health.”

While attending junior college, she wanted to go into education and become a teacher. “Ever since I was a little girl, my sister and I always played school. My first-grade teacher always let one of my friends and me help her unpack new books. We thought that was the grandest thing, and she was also my Sunday school teacher.”

In addition to her three children, King has six grandchildren: Brian Little, Will King, Parrish King, Kayla Donald, Beth Lomenick, Janna King, and seven great-grandchildren: Sylvie King, Baylin King, Pearson King, William King, Charleston Donald, Oliver Lomenick, and Thatcher Donald. She also has two step-grandchildren: Tara Ennis and Nicole Pitts, as well as five step-great-grandchildren: Catherine Pettie, Caroline Pettie, Porter Harden, Stella Harden, and Garrett Pitts.

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good mother. I am thankful, and God is good to me,” she said.