Keturah Campbell – vibrant and going strong at 100 years old
At 100 years old, Keturah Campbell, of Water Works in Westmoreland, continues to live a vibrant and active life as her family’s matriarch, and as a woman of God, even while she basks in her century-long milestone.
“I do all my cooking, and if it is baking or roasting, I do it. I believe I live so long by God’s help and grace and mercy, and I am still giving God thanks,” said Campbell, in a forceful voice, during an interview with The Gleaner.
Campbell, who celebrated her 100th birthday on March 9, was the guest of honour at a get-together with friends and family at Hotel Commingle in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, on the evening of March 11.
“I am here from I was a young lady until now, from the time I finished school and started to work. I am feeling happy, as I have not gotten any problems, and whether my children are around me or they are not around me, but are a way off, they make me to be contented and satisfied,” said Campbell, who looks much much younger than her age.
Born in Water Works on March 9, 1923, as one of 13 children for parents, Thomas Headley and Dorcas Bernard, Campbell attended the nearby Ferris Primary School, and after leaving school, she worked as a seamstress and then as a helper for 30 years. She married Donald Campbell, now deceased, a union that produced six children, two of whom are now deceased.
Additionally, she ran her own shop for a brief period, and also raised chickens, an activity she continues to do today, despite hearing challenges and occasional blood pressure issues. She is also renowned among her relatives and friends for her consistent baking skills, particularly in making treats like coconut drops.
Campbell, who has 20 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and eight great-great-grandchildren, noted that she has always been an active member of the Water Works Holiness Christian Church, even though she has not been able to attend physical services since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I usually lead song service, I give communion, sometimes I take on Sunday school, and I used to do the tidying of the church and also take on prayer meeting and midday service,” said Campbell. “From ever since this disease [COVID-19] come in, I am absent from church, but I send my offering, and I send everything I am supposed to send because the doctor said that at my age I should keep away from the crowds.”
I send my compulsory savings to church on Sunday, and I am on the bed with my Bible and songbook from 11 [a.m.] until when church dismisses at 1 or 1:30. [p.m],” added Campbell.
Pauline Roper-Thompson, one of Campbell’s four surviving children, recalled that her mother was always a strong disciplinarian when it came to raising her children. She noted that the centenarian also held high ambitions for her offspring.
“She was very strict, and still is strict; it is either her way or no way. But looking back at it now, we realise it was for a purpose, so we are not upset. She still has that way about her, as you cannot do anything and she does not know,” said Roper-Thompson.
“She worked as a helper, and she said she did not want any of her children to do that, as she wanted every one of us to have a profession. I am proud she is still here so that she can enjoy her labour that she spent on us,” said the beaming Roper-Thompson. “We pamper her, we try to take the best care of her and make her to be very happy, and we are happy to do that.”
Lloyd Campbell, the youngest of Campbell’s children, said his mother’s age is often a source of confusion due to her relatively youthful appearance and her independent nature.
“Sometimes we wonder, ‘Mummy, you sure of your age?’ and everybody asks, ‘You sure she is 100 years old?’ I figure what keeps my mother going is that she does a lot of walking because we used to have to wake up with her and walk with her to Ferris to get her to drive to go to work, and that kept her active,” said the reflective son.
In the meantime, in commenting on how life has changed over the past 100 years, the doting centenarian wants the current generation to keep holding on to principled ways of living.
“Living now is different from before, in every way. You must just keep yourself quiet, try to live to certain principles, and when you see things going on around you, just do not worry about it, and if things do not concern you, just leave it alone,” she said.