Resident credits longevity to picking cotton, avoiding doctors

Courtesy photo Grace Helen Bowen at age 18.

Benna Sayyed

Grace Helen Bowen is nonchalant about turning 100 years old today.

“Turning 100? I don’t feel anything one way or another. It’s just another birthday, just another day on the calendar. How do you feel about yours?” said Bowen with a sweet smile.

Bowen’s health has been stable over the years. She has never had any major operations or surgeries. The only medical procedures that Bowen undergoes regularly are blood pressure tests. So what is Bowen’s secret to making it to 100?

“What advice would I give anybody? I’ll tell them ‘you go do what you want to do and hope it works out,’” said Bowen in her usual humorous tone.

Bowen said staying away from doctors helped her reach 100. She also credits picking cotton while growing up in Graford, Texas, a tiny town about 70 miles west of Fort Worth, for her longevity. Bowen said she picked cotton to earn money to buy her school clothes.

Carol Bennett said her mother’s positive attitude has helped her live so long. Bennett said her mother accepts life’s ups and downs and just keeps moving.

Bennett described her mother as an easygoing woman with a great personality. She said Bowen got along easily with her sisters and was always thinking of others.

“I think she’s looking forward to her birthday, said Bennett, Bowen’s only child. “Her memory is not the greatest but she can remember when her birthday is.”

Bowen is an accomplished painter and learned to play piano by ear. Her paintings of landscapes and adobe houses were never sold but given to friends and family.

“She never had piano lessons,” Bennett said. “She’s very talented. I have to play everything by note. She can sit down and hear it and play it.”

Bowen and her husband, Charles C. Bowen, moved to Melrose in 1934 and opened a grocery store. The couple ran the grocery for 10 years. After that the Bowens ran a variety store and an appliance repair business. Charles Bowen died in 1980 at the age of 69.

Bowen began living at the Senior Citizen Resident Center in Clovis two years ago. Bennett said her mother likes her fellow residents and gets along with everybody.

Lori Patton described her grandmother as a good Christian woman and fine cook who prepared delicious Thanksgiving meals for friends, family and neighbors at her residence in the country.

“We went to visit once or twice a week and she’d always fix me a cheese sandwich. That was my favorite because I’m a picky eater. It was just bread, mayonnaise and cheese, but grandma made it special,” Patton said.

One of Patton’s favorite memories of her grandmother was making mud pies with her siblings and friends as a kid in Melrose.

“She was always playing with us. She would play dolls with us. When we (Patton’s siblings and friends) were in the yard making mud pies she was out there with us making mud pies and getting muddy. She was always willing to do what we were doing,” Patton said.