Woman celebrates 102 years

Published 9:12 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2017

If you ask 102-year-old Rosa Lee Alston what her secret to longevity is, she’d probably tell you that it’s faith in God, prayer and good eating.

Alston celebrated her 102nd birthday on Monday. She was born Feb. 6, 1915, in Thomasville, Ga. She was the youngest of 15 siblings.

She left Georgia at a young age to go to New York and eventually followed her oldest brother, David Brown, and sister, Ida Mae, to Suffolk, where Brown was a police officer.

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She married Willie Alston, of Enfield, N.C., and they had six children. Three are still living.

Alston was known in the Saratoga neighborhood as the “snowball lady,” according to her children and grandchildren. All of the children in the neighborhood would come to her house during the summer for frozen treats. During winter, she would make candy apples and peanut brittle to hand out to the children.

Her favorite foods include chicken feet, sweet potatoes, rice and collard greens.

She worked as a domestic worker for 20 years to support her family. Her husband died at the relatively young age of 55.

Alston attended Lakeview Missionary Baptist Church faithfully until her health began to fail, her family said.

“She taught her children to go to church and serve the Lord,” said one of her daughters, Margarita Clark. “She is an independent woman and a woman of faith.”

Alston is the oldest member of the church and the oldest in the Saratoga neighborhood, her family said. Her house burned down in 2002, but they rebuilt it on the same site.

“She still has quite a bit of humor,” said her granddaughter, Shawanee Waters. “Those things we would like her to forget, she doesn’t forget.”

Alston enjoyed watching wrestling and also likes to listen to gospel music. Her favorite song is “May the Work I’ve Done Speak for Me.”

“My mother always seemed like a wise woman,” Clark said. “We thank God for our mother. I hope I live to be her age.”