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105 And Counting

“I enjoy life,” said South Boston resident Irene Crews, who celebrated her 105th birthday last month among family and friends. “My children are all good to me, and I just enjoy living.”

When asked about what has contributed most to her long life, Crews replied, “Live a clean life and serve God.”
The centenarian admits she doesn’t get around as well as she did, but her mind is crystal clear.

“I remember President (Theodore) Roosevelt,” she recalled. “And I remember my daddy had to register for the Army before World War I. He never had to go, but he had to register, which upset us.”

Born Irene Lillian King on September 10, 1904 in Saxe, Crews also remembers working on her parents’ farm.

“I was raised on a farm,” she said. “There were a lot of things I liked to do and a lot of things I didn’t, because we had to work pretty hard on the farm.”

One particular thing she said she enjoyed as a girl and in her adult life was going to church.

“We always went to church, and I always enjoyed it,” she said.

A member of the South Boston Church of God, Crews taught Sunday school and sang in the choir until her advancing years forced her to give them up.

“I still go to church when I’m able,” she explained. “The last year or two I haven’t been able to go as much as I’d like.”
In 1927 she married Everette Crews and became a farm wife. The couple moved to the South Boston area and bought a farm in 1936, where she continues to live today.

“When we bought this farm there were nothing but trees all around here,” she said. “And we raised about six acres of tobacco.”

She said she did some work outside the home, but mainly she worked with her husband on the farm and was a homemaker and mother.

One aspect of tobacco Crews said she always enjoyed was going to the National Tobacco Festivals held in South Boston from 1935-1941. “My husband worked with them,” she said. “He helped with the trucks, and things that carried them. That was a great time.”

Crews said she has seen many changes in Halifax County since she came here with her husband in 1936.
“One big change is the roads,” she said.

“Back then the roads were dirt. Even some of the roads in South Boston were dirt,” she explained. “Our road was a dirt road, and it really was nice when they paved it.”

During their life together together, Irene and Everette Crews raised four daughters and one son.

Crews lost her husband in 1990 after 62 and one-half years of marriage.

William Durelle Crews, the couple’s only son, died in 1998.

Crews said two of her daughters continue to live in Halifax County. Jeanette C. Landrum lives on Highway 360, and Mary C. Oakley lives on Old Cluster Springs Road, just down the road from her mother. Daughter Margaret C. Watts lives in Charlottesville and daughter Louise C. Bradshaw lives in Raleigh.

In addition to her four daughters, Crews has 11 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
“I enjoy my family,” she said. “They have always been good to me.”

Although she is experiencing some hearing loss, her eyesight is good, according to her son-in-law, Walter Oakley. In fact, he confided that she enjoys working on word puzzles.

He said she loves people and enjoys visitors who come to call. And she loves tomatoes.

“I have tomatoes every day,” she said, laughing. “I like them in a sandwich, I like them any way you can fix them, in soup or whatever,” she added.

“I don’t remember not having them, even last winter. He has had a good crop of them this year,” she said, motioning to her son-in-law. “He keeps me in them, and my children, they have them too,” she said. “I have plenty of tomatoes.”

She said she has never smoked or drank alcohol.

“My husband smoked cigarettes, but I never did,” she said.

There aren’t many people Crews’ age left from whom younger generations can learn, but for those coming along she has a simple message.

“To serve God is the best advice I can give, and live a righteous life,” she concluded.

That’s good advice for anyone to follow.