Annie Russell grew her own vegetables in the garden. She got up early in the morning to make bread. She missed out on an opportunity to receive a formal education because she had to work around the home.
She vowed if she had her own children she would make sure they made learning a priority/
She told them to always work hard in life.
“They all made good lives for themselves — that’s all I wanted,” Russell said Monday.
She was born in Flat Island, Bonavista Bay and raised in Catalina. On Monday, she celebrated her 102nd birthday with family and friends gathered around here at the Lohne’s Complex on O’Connell Drive in Corner Brook.
She enjoyed reading all the cards sent to her. She chatted with several visitors who dropped by to wish her well and give her a gift. She talked on the phone with several people, including one of her sons living in Toronto.
But, it was seeing her daughter Phyllis in the room that made her day.
Nobody at the home told Annie her daughter and son-in-law Bill were coming to celebrate. As far as everybody knew this was going to be a big surprise for the birthday girl, but it appears Russell wasn’t caught off guard at all.
“I wasn’t surprised because she always comes, Russell said. “She’s good to her mother.”
Phyllis Vincent reflected back on the days when she was only a child and seeing first-hand how hard her mom worked to take care of her and her four siblings.
“She was always working from the time she got up in the morning until she went to bed at night,” Vincent said.
Vincent said her dad John Russell was pretty strict with his children, but her mom was known to break the rules from time to time to ensure they got their own way or avoided getting in hot water with dad.
People always wonder how a person can live so long and be so alert. Russell says it’s more about what people should stay away from than what they should be doing to live a long life.
She’s never taken a drop of alcohol.
She’s never inhaled smoke from a cigarette.
“It’s dirt. It don’t do you any good,” she said.