'It’s the Lord who has brought me this far'

By Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette

Few things are as awe-inspiring as meeting a centurion. Right here in Milton we have a centurion who not only still lives in her own home, but celebrated her 101st birthday on May 23.

In honor of Alberta Hill’s 101st birthday, her family threw a birthday bash, and the community responded by parading down Hill’s street. The parade even included a fire engine.

Alberta Hill cuts the cake at her recent birthday party. The Milton resident turned 101.

According to her granddaughter Gwen, Hill still does her own cooking and cleaning, and insists on doing all of the cooking for family holiday gatherings. Her grandson Bill said that she exercises daily and has maintained perfect health and balance by taking care of herself and making exercise part of her routine.

Hill said that one of her secrets to longevity is her faith.

Alberta Hill got dressed up in her birthday finest for her recent celebration.

“I have a very strong faith in the Lord, always have,” she said. “I raised my children and grandchildren to also have strong faith.”

Her grandson Robert added that she fasts every Wednesday, and prays and reads her Bible daily.

The birthday girl Alberta Hill and her family pose for a photo at her recent party.

“Her daddy, Lee Hill, was 112 years old when he died in 1978, and he had the same habits that Granny does,” Robert said. “It’s a family thing.”

Another of Hill’s secrets is her reliance on old-fashioned remedies and avoidance of modern pharmaceuticals.

The sign in the yard let everybody know about Alberta Hill's milestone.

“We grew up knowing how to take care of ourselves, and didn’t run to a doctor all of the time,” she said. Pointing to a bottle of J.R. Watkins White Cream Liniment, which combines camphor with turpentine, she said “I’ve used this everyday to keep away the aches and pains, so I don’t have any.”

Hill was born on a farm in Red Rock, Florida, and is no stranger to hard work.

Alberta Hill surrounded by some of Milton's finest who came to celebrate with her.

Her first job was at a turpentine plant. She came to Milton and worked in Esther’s Café on the riverfront, and daily served the police and courthouse crowd, many of whom came by to honor her on her birthday. Later she drove a truck for a construction company. She then spent 18 years at Whiting Field, where, in honor of her outstanding work ethic, she still today has privileges.

Asked about the changes she’s seen in her lifetime in Milton, she said “people used to be good: they were respectful and trustworthy, and everyone looked out for everybody else. Nobody made a big fuss about race, we just looked out for each other and got along.”

A Milton fire truck leads the birthday procession recently.