Campbellsville woman turns 111 in ’11

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Lera Williams to be featured on KET program

Landmark News Service

She sits in her chair, surrounded by photographs of those who love her.

Her family has grown quite large over the past century and now stands at dozens of grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren.

“My family keeps growing,” she said with a laugh.

Her hands, a bit more frail than last year, are no longer able to make as many crocheted bookmarks as she once did. She’s confined to the room, only moving from her chair to her bed each day.

Lera Williams is the oldest person in Kentucky, though that fact is not yet official. She celebrated her 111th birthday Feb. 9. She says she’s had a great life.

“I don’t know why I got old. I act like a kid,” she said. “I don’t know how time goes by so fast. We sleep half our time away.”

Williams’ age makes her a supercentenarian. Several websites state that fewer than 75 people in the United States can claim that title.

Attempts to confirm Williams as the oldest person in Kentucky are ongoing. Despite having nearly all the documentation needed, researchers are missing a few pieces of information to officially give Williams the title.

Sitting in her chair, Williams says she has never worried about how old she will live to be.

“I didn’t think about how old I was gonna be,” she said. “I had a good life.”

Williams rises at about 7:30 a.m. each day and goes to bed early each night. She says that’s a key to growing old.

“That’s good advice. Go to bed early and get up early,” she says. “And start off your day.”

Williams and her late husband, Murrison, married on Oct. 6, 1918. They had eight children, six of whom are living. The oldest is 91.

Her living children are Eloise Elmore, Anna Williams, Jerry Williams, Clara Newton and Betty Pyles, all of Campbellsville, and Cena Hottle of Louisville.

In 1997, Williams broke her hip. Since then, someone has stayed with her at her home at all times.

“It’s good to be in your own home,” she said. “And my daughters are good cooks, so we just eat.”

Originally from Cumberland County, Williams moved to Campbellsville in 1928.

She said she remembers riding horseback to get where she needed to go.

“We didn’t have a car,” she said.

Williams says she believes the world has changed a lot during her lifetime. The best changes, she said, have been the invention of cars, washing machines and electricity.

Growing up, she said, she remembers spending more time to do things, such as taking days to cook food from scratch and doing more chores.

Today, Williams spends the majority of her time in a recliner, listening to her family read devotionals, crocheting, visiting with people and sleeping.

The key to living a long life, Williams said, is simple.

“Well, it’s easy,” she said. “Time just flies by. You sleep and you eat.”

Looking back, Williams said she believes she has lived a long life because she hasn’t worried.

“I always felt like things are gonna be all right,” she said. “People worry too much. God takes care of us.

“God wanted me to [live a long life] and so we just work it out together.”

If she had the chance, Williams said she would only change one aspect of people today — she would want the whole world to be Christian.

“I will trust and not be afraid,” she said.

Williams is a long-time member of First United Methodist Church.

Also important to living a long life, according to Williams, is a good diet.

She eats plenty of fruits, vegetables and, her favorite food, eggs.

“I just like them any way I can get them,” she says.

By now Williams is getting good at being interviewed. She has been the subject of many news stories and television programs. The next airs this weekend on KET. Dave Shuffett recently came to interview her for his KET show and she said the two spent lots of time just talking.

“Gabble, gabble, gabble,” she said, with a laugh. “It’s easy to talk to them.”


An interview with Lera Williams will be featured on KET’s “Kentucky Life” at 8 p.m. Saturday and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The show also airs on KET2 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. For information, visit www. ket.org/kentuckylife.

Calen McKinney can be reached at reporter@cknj.com.