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National Centenarian Awareness Project - August 2008 - Lula Johnston

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  Lulu Johnston, 100

Lulu Johnston at her 100th Birthday
Lulu Johnston celebrated her 100th birthday
on July 6th.

Lula Johnston wasn’t born in Georgia, but she’s spent the past 95 years living there, reaching the century mark on July 6, 2008.  Lulu's as sweet and nice a person as you ever will find.  She lives now with her daughter, Lou Ellen, who says she’s a real pleasure to be with, always positive, never negative and very loving and giving.  
          Indeed, in so many ways, Lula is an inspiration to her three children, 12 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren, and she enjoys passing on life lessons.  She is also an inspiration to everyone else who meets her.  “I believe in being positive and in loving everybody,” she tells.  “I love being around people.”

          Lula’s “life long love,” as she puts it, is and always has been reading, a passion she developed as a young girl.
         “My daddy worked for the railroad and he would bring home newspapers from other parts of the country, like The New York Times and magazines, so we were exposed to the outside world at a young age.  My parents both loved to read and we always had books in the house.  As a young girl, my best friend and I would spend every Sunday afternoon upstairs in my bedroom, reading.  Historical novels have always been my favorite because they are based on events that actually happened; I find that interesting.  When we were children, we had no TV and no radio, so reading was our entertainment.  I remember when I got my first school book, I read it right through.  And we used to get paperback storybooks cheap at the stores when we got older.  There was no pornography then,” she adds.

Lulu Johnston as a child
Lulu as a child

          During WWII, Lula took a job as secretary to the chief of surgery at what was then Gordon Center, now the Eisenhower Center, and remained there until after the Korean War. 
         “It was such a tragedy to see young men with head trauma, which the hospital specialized in, wandering around with no idea who they were or where they were,” she recalls sadly. 
         Retiring after 20 years, in her 60s, she decided to do something uplifting for people and especially young people; so she started a library at her church, which she ran for many years. “It was very successful; everybody loved it, especially the children.  They loved the summer reading programs.”
          Like many of her generation, Lula is very proud of her voting record, telling that her father took her to vote when she was 21 and she’s not missed a presidential election since.  FDR is her favorite president “because he saved us from the Depression.  It was very bad.  My husband and I got along only because my father farmed and would bring us produce:  that saved us.  Very often two or three families would live together or take in family members to get by.”  Since then, her belief has been “If you have to, you get along with what you have.”
           Lula still maintains her own financial affairs, writes her own checks and balances her checkbook.  “I’ve never bounced a check in my life and I’ve never been late paying a bill, and I’ve never missed tithing at church.”  Now that could be one for the record books!
           But living to 100 has been more challenging.  “I’ve had to work at it,” she confides.  Indeed. Lula is a cancer survivor, has had five stents in her heart in recent years, as well as a cornea transplant “so I could continue reading.”  Her courage and determination are exemplary. 
          Along with her strong faith, family and friends sustain her and bring her joy.  “We have a lot of fun,” she says.  It’s good to be around young people – they keep you young.”  Daughter Lou Ellen adds that they also enjoy going out for lunch, to church every Sunday and going shopping, especially for books.  Lula laughs and says: “We recently went into a Christian book store and each came out with an armful of books – there’s always something new to learn, no matter how old you are!” 

 

Respecting the privacy of this centenarian and all centenarians on our website, we ask all media (or other businesses) to please direct inquiries to Lynn Adler: adler@ncap100s.org.

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