Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Aged to perfection - Surrounded by love, Winnifred still going strong at 100

Published:Sunday | June 4, 2017 | 6:00 AM
Winnifred Pearl Stern (left), centenarian, shows off her birthday card received from Queen Elizabeth to Jennifer Clarke Twiddle, business relationship manager at JN Bank Half-Way Tree branch. Clarke Twiddle recently visited Stern to present her with a gift basket from the bank.
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Winnifred Pearl Stern is 100 years old, but looking at her, you could never tell.

The New Kingston resident's memory is sharp as a razor. She reads without glasses, walks unassisted, hears very well, and still takes care of her home.

Her adroitness is testament to the adage, 'Aged to perfection,' which is conveyed on a paper banner that is mounted over the entrance to her home.

There is no slowing down for this independent centenarian who regularly takes a taxi to conduct her business, attends Sunday services at the St Andrew Parish Church and visits the hair salon fortnightly.

So what's the secret to her longevity? Apart from the fact that it may be genetic, considering that her mother lived to 95, her father until 86, and a sister until 96, Winnifred believes it is love.

"I am always surrounded by love," she declared.

"I had loving parents and a wonderful husband, to whom I was married to for 46 years, before he died," the former beautician explained.

Born on April 18, 1917 in the community of Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny, to a mother who was a dressmaker, and father who was a businessman, Winnifred is the third of seven children for her parents. All except two of her siblings have predeceased her.

 

Family moves

 

While a young child, her family relocated to Kingston and her father's work took him regularly to Cuba and Panama. At 20, she married the love of her life, Jubert 'JV' Stern, an educator, who worked as headmaster at schools in St Thomas and Westmoreland.

Together, the union produced three children: Colonel Anthony Stern, retired defence adviser in the Jamaica Defence Force; Jacqueline Clarke, who retired from the airline industry; and Normadelle Whittle, a schoolteacher in Atlanta, Georgia.

A family-oriented person, Winnifred was adamant that the love she experienced as a child would always be the 'fragrance' of her home.

Some family traditions she insisted on maintaining with her own family are that everyone had dinner together every day, and that dessert, which she sometimes made herself, was present at those meals.

Approximately 100 relatives and friends gathered to celebrate her life and paid glowing tributes to her at the celebration of her 100th birthday, which was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on April 15.

Among the numerous tokens she has received for her birthday was a signed birthday card from Queen Elizabeth.

"I feel great to be alive. I can still take care of myself, therefore, I am happy about that," said Winnifred.

Apart from a little trouble with arthritis and glaucoma, the fashionable senior citizen who has been a member of the Jamaica National Building Society, now JN Bank, for more than 20 years, still enjoys good health.

 

Happy life

 

According to Winnifred, she has lived a happy life, with fond memories. One of her fondest memories is attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Today, that invitation is framed and hangs on the wall of her living room.

"I ended up getting to attend as a result of my son, who was a military attachÈ at the Jamaican High Commission in Britain. He received an invitation from Queen Elizabeth, which allowed him to take a guest to the event," she explained.

Also at the top her list of fond memories is meeting Clementine Churchill, the wife of Sir Winston Churchill, former British prime minis-ter, at a church event in Westmoreland.

"My husband and I were fond of Winston Churchill. My husband would recite excerpts from his speeches. In fact, we gave our son the name Churchill, as his middle name."

The centenarian also had many other memorable moments, such as going on a cruise with her family to Mexico for her 92nd birthday.

"I had a wonderful time there. I enjoyed the sightseeing and shopping," she said.

Among her prized possessions are: a white crocheted bedspread, which her then 70-year-old mother made specifically for her; and a framed photograph of her mother, who was 30 years old at the time the photo was taken.

Winnifred clearly recalls the details of the light green dress her mother wore at the time, which her mother had sewn.

"My mother was an excellent dressmaker who worked from home. She took her work so seriously that she employed someone to look after us, so she could dedicate more time to her work," said Winnifred.

On a typical day, she is up by 6 a.m., prepares her breakfast and reads her Bible and devotional.

She is not particularly fond of watching television; however, she tunes in to Power 106 FM to listen to the discussion programmes and listens to discs of some of her favourite artistes, including Jo Stafford.

She loves eating stewed peas with pig's tail, which she sometimes prepares herself, and continues to enjoy entertaining guests and occasionally attends concerts and plays.