A great grandma — and twice that, too

Soldotna woman marks 100 years

Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2005


  Molli Petrey, 1, of Sterling tries to figure out why Lucille Adams, her great-great-grandmother, is playing with her pacifier during Adams' 100th birthday bash at Heritage Place in Soldotna on Sunday. Photo by Joseph Robertia

Molli Petrey, 1, of Sterling tries to figure out why Lucille Adams, her great-great-grandmother, is playing with her pacifier during Adams' 100th birthday bash at Heritage Place in Soldotna on Sunday.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

Birthdays tend to lose their luster with people as they start to have fewer days ahead than behind, but there’s nothing old about celebrating a century of life, according to Lucille Adams of Soldotna.

Adams, born Nov. 15, 1905, marks a milestone today, although family and friends gathered at Heritage Place on Sunday for her 100th birthday bash.

“I feel like a million dollars,” Adams said at one point during the festivities.

She was lively, alert and even a little spunky during her birthday party, telling one gentleman that was ribbing on her, “Don’t tease me. I don’t take it very well,” and even scolding a great-great-grandchild who was speeding around the room by saying, “No running in the house, pumpkin.”

Her family and friends took photos, exchanged stories about her younger years and explained why Adams is so important to them.

“She’s the sweetest thing that ever lived,” said her daughter, Lila Mae Schroeder, who is 77 years old.

Tona Bravo, Adams’ 56-year-old granddaughter, ex-pressed similar sentiments.

“She is a wonderful woman and a perfect grandma,” she said.

“Without her, none of us would be here,” said Brandi Petrey, her 28-year-old great-granddaughter.

According to Bravo, who has traced her grandmother’s genealogy, Adams was born to Don and Lena Hayden in Lincoln, Neb., where she lived until she was 12.

Adams then moved to Washington, where she graduated from high school and met the love of her life, James Jackson Adams, whom she married Oct. 12, 1923.

In Washington, the newlyweds made their first home and saw the birth of two children — Lila Mae and a son they named Jack Newell. Adams and her husband ran an apple orchard and later built a restaurant and gas station that they ran together until 1941.

In 1947, they moved to Alaska for the first time, taking residence in Fairbanks, where Adams worked for the Northern Commercial Co., while her husband — a carpenter by trade — worked construction.

Their time in Alaska was brief as James was hired to help with the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington.

Alaska continued to call to them, though, and in 1950 they returned, living in Anchorage for two years before moving to make Kenai their home. James served as the superintendent for the building of Wildwood Station military base.

“Grandma always made a home for her and grandpa, no matter where she was. And she did so effortlessly,” Bravo said. “When grandpa built a house, she always did the painting on the inside.”

According to Bravo, it was good that Adams was so accepting of setting up a new home, since they moved quite often.

“Grandma always said Grandpa was planning another trip before they finished the one they were on,” she said.

The couple continued to travel in state, out of state and out of the country for several decades. After many trips and 67 years of marriage, James died, and in 1998 she moved to Alaska to live with her daughter.

“Grandma now resides at Heritage Place in Soldotna. Everyone there has been good to Grandma,” Bravo said.

“They love her over there,” Schroeder said.

As to the secret of Adams’ longevity, it would be difficult to attribute it to a wholly healthy diet, Bravo said.

“She said many times that she only eats meals so she can have dessert. Two of her favorite things are chocolate and peanut butter, and she’s eaten them almost every day,” Bravo said.

On Sunday their were “sweets for the sweet,” as one family member put it, and Adams even cut her own chocolate cake.

If not diet, Bravo pondered that perhaps instead it was her lifestyle that encouraged her long life.

“Grandma always loved working in her garden with her flowers. She loved to hunt and fish with family. Anything to do with family, she loves. Oh yes, and the babies always found there way to grandma’s arms,” Bravo said.

In addition to her two children, Adams has 12 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren.

Bravo said Adams’ own grandmother died before she was born, so when she became a grandmother she wanted to be the best one she could be.

“She truly filled that quest,” Bravo said.

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