Woman joins centenarian ranks

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It isn’t often that folks live to such an age that they outlast their hip replacements.

But Estelle Byrum didn’t think twice about having her third hip replacement — replacing an earlier replacement — at age 98.

“I think my children thought I was mighty old for that,” she said. “But I didn’t worry a bit about having that surgery.”

Estelle Byrum relaxes in her Lake Prince Woods apartment before enjoying a 100th birthday party with friends and family.

Estelle Byrum relaxes in her Lake Prince Woods apartment before enjoying a 100th birthday party with friends and family.

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Byrum turned 100 on Tuesday and celebrated with family and friends at Lake Prince Woods, where she has lived since her recovery from that surgery. But she isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Byrum was born in North Carolina and was the baby of five girls, all of whom lived to 90 or more. She was raised in Whaleyville, graduating from Whaleyville High School. She married Willie Byrum on Feb. 16, 1935.

“I had one of the best husbands in the world,” she said.

The couple moved to Corapeake and farmed during their 58 years of marriage. He worked the farm full-time while she helped with farm work, raised their three children and cooked three full meals every single day.

“The biggest crop was peanuts for years,” Byrum said, although the family also raised soybeans and sweet potatoes, as well as corn for the livestock.

The Byrum sweet potatoes were renowned for miles around, and they showed up on plates in the Byrum household quite frequently.

“My husband raised thousands of bushels of sweet potatoes,” Byrum said.

Byrum’s son, Al Byrum, attributes his mother’s longevity to her natural way of life on the farm.

“She didn’t ever smoke or drink,” he said. “They ate natural food. I think that has a lot to do with it.”

Byrum was still living in the farmhouse until she moved to Lake Prince Woods. She enjoys reading the newspaper, watching basketball, hearing news about Corapeake’s Eureka Baptist Church, where she is a member, and getting to know her neighbors.

“I have enjoyed getting to know the people here,” she said. “Most of them are very fine people that I’ve met.”

For her part, Byrum says her faith has increased her longevity. It’s the reason she was able to carry through with the hip replacement surgery.

“I knew God would take care of me,” she said. “You got to have faith.”

Byrum’s other two children are Carroll Byrum and Joyce Anne McLawhorn. She has four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.