Gerda Eleen Sellers
of Dawson, Navarro County, Texas


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Gerda Sellers of Dawson is 99 years old and will reach the century mark on Dec. 7. Family and friends will celebrate the milestone from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, with a party at the Dawson Community Center. Daily Sun photo/LOYD COOK

 

11/30/2004 Young at heart!: Sellers to celebrate her 100th birthday

By LOYD COOK/Daily Sun Staff

DAWSON -- Gerda Sellers remembers growing up on the farm, surrounded by animals.

Those times are long gone, although having at least a few dogs around keeps the animal aspect of her life constant. Sellers will be 100 years old Tuesday, Dec. 7.

"I had a wonderful childhood I think," she said, noting all the visiting cousins and long days of playing outside during the early part of the 20th Century.

She was born in the Fallon community, a defunct gathering of farms and homes that was located about four miles from Mexia.

"It was just a little place with a store and a telephone office," Sellers said. "It didn't have all the things you have now."

And when asked about "all those things," the 99-year-old didn't talk first of space travel or computers or things of that nature. For Gerda Sellers, the changes with the most impact on her life came from things like the telephone, automobiles and the invention of penicillin.
She remembers riding in the first car in the Fallon community and the time her family got its first telephone. It was, of course, a party line -- a reference the youth of today wouldn't understand.

For the kids, a "party line" meant that several families shared the same telephone number and all the phones on that line rang whenever someone wanted to call. There wasn't much in the way of private conversation, as anyone on the party line could pick up their receiver and listen in to the folks talking.

Modern times are much different, she allows, and one comment speaks volumes to all the things she has seen and the history she has experienced.

"I've seen so many wars, and I always thought we'd get past that," she said. "But this one (with Iraq) worries me more.

"When you're young, you think that things will get better."

Kids today are buffeted by harder times, she said, citing economic conditions and the presence of terrorism in the world.

And they know about everything quicker.

"Everything going on in the world, you know about it," Sellers said. "It seems like everybody now has a fear no one ever talked about back then."

She said financial situations were never discussed in front of children, as many tough issues were kept from them then. Nowadays, Sellers said, children know more about what's going on in and with their families than ever before.

There are things that are better. She said the world has progressed in "lots of ways" and "most people have a lot of material things today we never would have thought of."

Advances in medicine amaze her as well. Sellers said she's heard talk of people maybe living to be 140 years old in the future.

Sellers never married and never had children. She jokes that is the main reason she's lived so long and has rarely been sick. Her nephew's wife Laura Danford said that Gerda had never been in a hospital until she broke her hip at age 93.

"I think I decided early in life," Sellers said of staying single. "I think I've always been a little different than the average person."

"She's very independent," Danford said. "She's very strong that way."

Sellers' life has followed that independent streak.

She took a job at a variety store in Wortham. Her parents and other children would move to Dawson while she worked there. One of seven siblings, Gerda and one sister -- Beulah Dawson, 94, of Cleburne -- are the only two left.

In 1958, Gerda Sellers opened her own variety store in Oak Cliff.

"Back then it was just a country town," she said of one of Dallas' major suburbs. "I hear it's not too nice now."

She followed that time in business, after she closed her store, working in a "charity store" for 17 years before retiring to Dawson.

Living a long life wasn't something she planned on, saying that probably it can be attributed to family genes (she had a grandmother that lived to be 104) and "I've always kept busy."

One of the things keeping her busy is her love of reading -- particularly poetry and biographies of famous people.

Most of the new age modern things have passed her by, she said, but more because of timing than anything else.

"The computer is a wonderful thing, but it came along a little bit too late for me," she said. "If it had been around in my day I would have used one. I've always been curious."

Gerda will tell you that her sister Beulah is the historian in the family, ready to rattle off a lot of the history of folks around Dawson.

As for herself, she's not too sure about all the fuss being made over her birthday.

"Don't know why we're making a big deal about this, I'm going to celebrate another one next year," Gerda said. "I haven't done anything special. I've been blessed with good health."

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Loyd Cook may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]

Notes:

  • Gerda died on June 6, 2011 ans was buried at the Mexia City Cemetery in Mexia, Limestone Co., TX; Plot: Section E; Find-A-Grave Memorial #178583397


Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox