By TARA ALATORRE
PEORIA – Hilda Lee Jones celebrated her 106th birthday last week by dancing with her 87-year-old son, Matthew, while donning a crown and sash at a party held for the momentous occasion inside the Immanuel Campus of Care in Peoria.
“I feel so happy, I feel wanted, and I feel that there is love in this room,” Jones said while smiling from ear to ear at her birthday party.
The oxygen she wore seemed like a fashion accessory that was just part of her stylish ensemble as she blew out her birthday candles – for a second time – with vigor and a smile. Jones is sharp, witty and making 106 look good as she twirled on the dance floor with her only son in the dining hall, while staff from the care facility gathered around to watch.
Born on Jan. 2, 1912, in Dallas, Texas, Jones can still remember the street she was born on, Haskel Avenue. As a young child she would come to live in Palestine, Texas, with her grandparents after her mother died at the young age of 29 from the Great Flu Pandemic of 1917, and her father died while serving win World War I.
Her sister and only sibling would die 10 years after her mother, leaving her with not much family. Her family losses would cause her even more hardship as Jones eventually would become a black, single mother living in a segregated America.
“I don’t like to go way back when, it wasn’t a very happy time, but I think history took care of that. I feel better now,” she said.
Jones was dressmaker in Manhattan and worked at Saks Fifth Avenue while raising her son. She is also passionate about her faith and believes it helped her navigate many issues over the last century, according to a press release and staff from Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care of Arizona.
Fifteen-years-ago Jones moved to Peoria when her son relocated with his wife. She speaks about her only child very pridefully as she tells the room full of reporters that he graduated from “conventional school.”
She says one of the greatest things that has happened in her lifetime was seeing the first black president, Barack Obama, get elected by the people of the United States of America in 2008, then watching him serve as leader of the country for two terms.
“I think of that often, which I never, ever thought wou
ld happen,” Jones says solemnly about Obama.
She went on to say that the younger generation are “good kids,” except they don’t stop long enough to think about the consequences of their actions.
Also, she thinks that 16-year-olds “have no business with a car.”
When asked what advice she could give to people about life she says, “I couldn’t hardly give advice because you have to do that all for yourself.”