By Melody Vallieu
TROY — Della Jones says the ingredients in her recipe to longevity are pretty simple: eat right, stay busy and be helpful.
At 100 years old come Thursday, it seems Della knows what she is talking about.
Born Feb. 16, 1917, in the Georgetown, Brown County area of Ohio, Della was one of 10 children that included six boys and four girls. She was the third born child — which meant a lot of helping with her siblings, Della remembers.
She also remembers a simple farm life — living 7 miles outside of town — raising their own food and entertaining themselves. A fall festival each year was a highlight for the family, she said.
“We didn’t go much, didn’t have a car. We had a horse and buggy and went to town once a week for supplies,” Della said.
She also remembers surviving the Great Depression. She said the lack of water, left them with not enough feed for the cattle and made it very hard on families.
“We got through somehow. It was scarce and hard on us,” she said.
She attended a one-r00m school in Mount Air, Ohio, with eight grades in the school, with three to four children in each grade. She graduated from Ripley High School.
The centenarian married Albert Jones, but lost him in a tragic car-train accident just eight years into their marriage. Left alone to raise their young daughter, Doris, Della continued to study while working as an aide at the Brown County Hospital, eventually becoming an LPN.
“I loved taking care of the patients, giving them baths, more so than the medicines,” said Della, who now has one grandchild and one great-grandchild. “I was always afraid I’d give the wrong dose. I never did, of course.”
Della, who moved to Troy in the 1980s, said she made a good living and was able to provide for Doris growing up.
“We always ate good and lived a good life and had plenty to live on,” said Della, who sewed all of Doris’ clothes.
Throughout her adulthood, Della walked every day, her daughter, Doris Pettit of Troy, remembers. She also attended church, was a member of several book clubs and still enjoys doing 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles.
Doris said she couldn’t be happier to still have her mother.
“It’s just amazing,” Doris said. “And, her mind is still so sharp.”
Doris said whether she can make it to the assisted living facility or not, the two talk every day.
“She expects a call at 8 p.m. If, I don’t call by 8:15 p.m., she’s calling me,” Doris said.
At Brookdale Troy, where she now resides, Della participates in morning exercise to kick her day off, and also enjoys going on the outings to such places LaComedia, the zoo and the movie theater. She also belongs to a sewing group and plays trivia games to keep her mind sharp.
Joyce Barker, activities director at Brookdale Troy, said Della is a joy to have at the facility.
“She’s super sweet and will do anything for anybody. She likes to be helpful,” Barker said. “She is really humble and doesn’t like a fuss made over her.”
However, for one day, on Thursday, there will be a little fuss, when her friends and family gather at Brookdale Troy — with other residents — for cake and ice cream to celebrate her milestone. She also will be presented with a proclamation from Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
A card shower for Doris also is being held to help her celebrate, and cards can be sent to Della Jones, 81 S. Stanfield Road, Apt. 117, Troy, OH 45373.
Della said if she can impart any advice from her long life, she reminds people to just take care of themselves and be good to others.
“Keep busy and exercise, eat right,” Della said. “Look at the world and see what’s going on and try and help out.”