107-year-old Virginia woman educated in tobacco fields shares lessons on life

Posted at 12:01 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 12:05:56-05

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Reminiscing is one of Mary B. Healy’s favorite hobbies, but the Hanover County woman is not done making new memories, according to WTVR.

Ms. Healy will reach a milestone birthday when she turns 108 years old in a few short months.

“My birthday is February 14th, 1912,” she said. “We’re blessed here in the United States.”

To put that into perspective, Ms. Healy was living before the Titanic sank, ahead of the first shot of WWI and before Babe Ruth played his first professional baseball game. When she was born, America had only 47 states.

Virginia woman reflects on 107 years of changes

Ms. Healy marvels at the changes she has witnessed.

“Let me tell you how exciting that was,” Ms. Healy said. “I’ve seen the first cars made. I’ve seen the first airplanes and [the] first street cars.”

Ms. Healy was one of nine children who grew up on a farm with bare necessities.

“We didn’t have electricity then,” she remembered.

Ms. Healy remembers the first time she heard a radio broadcast.

“Let me tell you how exciting that was," Ms. Healy said. “It was something else to hear someone over the air, you know?”

She also remembers the family's Victrola and the song her boyfriend used to pick his guitar and sing to her.

“Mary Lou, Mary Lou cross my heart I love you. Every bell in the temple is ready to ring. And all of the people are planning pretty presents over you," she remembered.

And transportation was left to a different kind of horsepower. Ms. Healy remembers riding the trolleys through Richmond and when Route 1 was a dirt road.

“Oh, how I remember those old dirt roads," Ms. Healy.  "We didn’t have cars then, man. What are you talking about... I’ll tell you how we got back and forth. My daddy had a horse and buggy.”

Growing up in rural Virginia 

Life was tough growing up, but she was tougher. The straight A student dropped out of school in the sixth grade -- earning an education picking tobacco.

“I just knew life is something we had to do, you know. We had to make a living,” Ms. Healy said. "It wasn’t real hard for us then because we were young. Four boys and five girls.”

Ms. Healy would work at Philip Morris, marry and have a family. She has outlived her husband, daughter, siblings and even some grandchildren.

However, the centenarian does not dwell on the negative. She would rather focus on the high notes of life.

For a woman who has experienced more than a century of birthdays, this Valentine’s Day baby still gets a thrill.

“Oh, yeah man," Ms. Healy said. "When my birthday comes, I’m all excited. One time I had six parties.”