Lyles’ Secrets to Longevity

Lyles’ Secrets to Longevity
September 04
00:00 2014

110-year-old is an inspiration to many

(pictured above:  Alberta Lyles is escorted to the party by her grandcsons Reginald Bohannon (right) and Jefferson Morris.)

Feisty, sassy, vibrant.

Those were some of the adjectives buzzing around Alberta Lyles’ 110 birthday celebration.
The gathering attracted a crowd of friends, family members and special guests to the Mt. Zion Baptist Church File Goodwin Family Life Enrichment Center, where Lyles takes part in activities for senior citizens.

Mrs.  Lyles speaks with Mayor Allen Joines.

Mrs. Lyles speaks with Mayor Allen Joines.

There were songs, the telling of an African fable and the reading of a proclamation by Mayor Allen Joines declaring Aug. 21 as “Mrs. Alberta Lyles Day in Winston-Salem.”

Lyles is a mother of two, grandmother of eight, great-grandmother of 12 and great-great grandmother of 25. She is still mobile and very much lucid. Her hearing isn’t what it once was, but her family says that is her only limitation.

Lyles said the secret to longevity is no secret at all.

“Nothing. Just take care of yourself and keep yourself up,” she said as she clasped her hands together. “I didn’t think that I would live to this age, but I just believed it. I’m in my right mind, I think, and I sing and do everything. I just try to do it all.”

Lyles said she also eschews fretting and meddling.

DSC_0106“Child, I don’t worry about nothing. I treat folks nice and tend to my business. I don’t tote news,” she said. “Ain’t no need of bothering with these wild folks.”

Her granddaughter Aleane Bohannon said her grandmother has long preached those virtues to her and other family.

“She said people die from heart attacks, strokes and stuff because they always in somebody else’s business,” Bohannon said.

Hattie Caple

Hattie Caple

Hattie Caple, Lyles niece, believes her aunt has also been blessed for having a kind, big heart.
“She is a Christian lady. She has been a seamstress, a housemaid and she took in anybody that needed to be taken care of,” Caple said. “There was nothing that was too hard for her.”

Lyles attends St. Paul United Methodist Church, where Pastor Donald Jenkins says she is a favorite among parishioners.

Rev. Donald Jenkins

Rev. Donald Jenkins

“She is a warm person, a complimentary person and a great person to have around,” he said.
Lyles was born Aug. 21, 1904 in Wadesboro. She said her earliest memory is of her mother taking her to school when she was 4-years-old. She said her mother was the person who made the biggest impact on her life.

“My mom was smart. She sewed, took care of all us and taught us literature. I don’t think mama ever whooped me,” she said. “I wasn’t foolish or hard-headed. I was just happy.”

She moved to Winston-Salem in 2008, at age 103 to live with her granddaughter Aleane.

Lyles’ late husband, James, was a farmer. They were married for more than 65 years before his death in 1985. She said that after he died, she decided she would continue being a widow.
“When he died I said, ‘Oh. I reckon I won’t marry no more,” she said.

After her husband’s death, Lyles turned to her sewing talent to make a living. She sewed for everyone, making suits, coats and the like.

Catherine Chatham

Catherine Chatham

“I still sew. I can cut out anything I want to and make it, without a pattern,” she said.
Catherine Cheatham also attends senior programs at Mt. Zion. She says Lyles is an inspiration.
“It’s wonderful to know that she has lived that long. I think about the fact that I am 87 and I have a lot of years to go,” Cheatham said. “I thought I was over-the-hill. She stays busy all the time and you wouldn’t think she was that age.”

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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