|Bearie Rauls Coleman|
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Added by: CJ Payne
|107 years young & counting|
The Plainview Daily Herald
Posted: Sunday, October 3, 2010
Kevin Lewis/Plainview Daily Herald
Bearie Coleman of Floydada celebrated her 107th birthday on Thursday. She's one of the oldest residents on the South Plains.
FLOYDADA - A saying on a door in Bearie Coleman's house reads: "Family is a gift that lasts forever."
With 13 children, 44 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren and 14 great-great-grandchildren (give or take), Coleman certainly knows a lot about family.
And at age 107, some might say she knows a thing or two about forever, too.
Coleman celebrated her 107th birthday on Thursday by doing one of the things she's always loved: eating sweets. Interim HealthCare Hospice provided the longtime Floydada resident with a colorful birthday cake, and, after blowing out the three candles, Coleman ate a big slice along with a scoop of ice cream.
"She's always loved desserts," her daughter, Bettye King of Floydada, said.
Coleman also celebrated her birthday by having Sept. 30 declared "Bearie Coleman Day" in Floydada by Mayor Bobby Gilliland. Several of her children and other relatives were on hand for the event, as well as numerous friends.
When asked the secret to living to be 107, Coleman quickly responded: "I have no secrets."
Although in a different house, Coleman still lives at the same address on the north edge of town as she did when she moved to Floydada in 1929 from her birthplace of Oakwood between Dallas and Houston. A grandson, Carlos Baker, lives with her and helps take care of Coleman, who gets around these days in a wheelchair after she stopped walking a couple of years ago.
Coleman arrived in Floyd County by train with her husband, T.J., who came here looking for work. They were married for 60 years when he died in 1976.
While he traveled around the country building grain elevators, Mrs. Coleman stayed home and raised their family - six sons and seven daughters.
"The oldest two were born a year apart, and the rest are two years apart," said daughter Bettye King.
Had he lived, the oldest child, Buddy, would be 89.
Seven of the kids, meanwhile, are still alive: Chester Coleman of Conway, Ark., Pearl Thompson of Houston, Marie Jones of Seymour, Ruth Popnaugh of Albuquerque, N.M., Paul Coleman of Dallas, and King and Joe Coleman, both of Floydada.
While Mrs. Coleman, who had her last child at age 46, didn't work much outside the home, she definitely worked within it, raising not only her own children but several others as well, including Bettye's oldest child, Quinn. She also raised three children who were orphaned when their birth mother died.
"Plus she was nanny to a lot of kids," Jones said.
"We used to bring friends over here all the time for lunch and stay the night, and she never complained," King added. "She would even feed the hobos and give them coffee. They'd jump off the train and come right here."
It's said most of Floydada's black residents ate at least one meal in the Coleman house.
Many residents dropped off their kids at the Coleman's before driving to out-of-town sporting events.
"They knew mama was strict," King explained. "Once they got in that door, they weren't getting back out."
Coleman also was a stickler for instilling a strong work ethic in her children.
"She made sure we were working," said King, adding that mostly the work was in the cotton fields.
She also believed in education.
"She put six kids through college," King pointed out.
Coleman kept a tidy house, raised chickens, maintained a garden, made all of her children's clothes and "cooked three meals a day - every day," King said. "And we always had a dessert."
Her pineapple cake was a favorite, as well as her pound cake.
"She made the best pound cake and cornbread in this whole county," Jones said. "She measured ingredients with her hands."
She finally stopped cooking and baking around age 100.
Coleman never drove a lot, only around town on rare occasions. She did, however, like to fish, something she did until age 95 before she fell and broke a hip.
"That's the only surgery she ever had," Jones said.
Coleman still enjoys mostly good health. She takes five pills a day, including for congestive heart failure. She has a hard time hearing but doesn't wear a hearing aid.
She mostly spends her days watching TV - including what's been her favorite program for years, "Days of Our Lives " - and talking to friends and family on the phone. For many years one of those friends was Myra Dade, who died Feb. 19 at age 103.
Coleman couldn't recall why her parents gave her such as unusual name, Bearie. Her younger sister (by five years) also had an unusual name, Argie Blaylock. She lived to be 95.
On most days, King said her mother still remembers things like dates of family events, who is married to whom and which children belong to which couple.
And with as many branches as are in her 107-year-old family tree, that's quite an accomplishment.
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