Rutherford County’s oldest known resident, at age 107, was honored with several proclamations and a reception at NHC Murfreesboro recently.
Martha Etta Dudney Jones on July 25, Centenarian Appreciation Day, was inducted into the Century Club of Rutherford County. She was presented a “centenarian award” signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland presented her with a proclamation. Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron did not attend the reception but sent a proclamation as well.
Relatives and friends from the area and from around the Southeast attended the reception.
Kathy Bennett of Family Staffing Solutions presented the governor’s and Ketron’s proclamations to Jones. Bennett organizes the Century Club of Rutherford County, which has honored 41 local centenarians since its founding in 2012.
Jones’ granddaughter, Lisa Pickard, said, “She’s the best grandmother in the whole wide world.”
PIckard said her favorite memories of her grandmother included the times she would sew up her teddy bear, cook and read to the kids.
Sonya Miller, Pickard’s mother and one of Jones’ daughters, said Jones was born near White House, Tenn., on Oct. 10, 1911. (OnThisDay.com says that is the day in history that Ty Cobb and Frank Schulte were named the first MVPs of the American and National Leagues, respectively.)
Miller said her mom moved from Tennessee to Huntsville, Ala., when she was 14.
Miller said her siblings are J.D. Jones Jr., a Huntsville area dentist who died last year at age 89; and two sisters, Barbara Hammer and Faye Heaton. Miller said her father, J.D. Jones, died in 1989.
Jones and her late husband were close and “complemented each other,” according to a biography written by her home church in Huntsville for her 100th birthday in October 2011. The article says, “Ms. Martha was always ‘The Helper/The Supporter’ for him” and references Proverbs 31:10-31, which describes the attributes of an honorable woman.
Jones married when she was five months “shy” of 17, Miller said. She did a great deal of benevolence work with the church such as quilting clothes for the needy. J.D. and Martha Jones drove a bus to bring inner-city children to church as well.
“Anything you would ever want my mother to do, she was there,” Miller said. “She never had an unkind word to say about others.”
Proving it’s never too late to try something, Jones earned her driver’s license at age 65 and drove until she was 88, Miller said.
The family members are “astounded” at Jones’ age, Miller said, but added that Jones’ mother lived to be 94 and she had a sister who died shortly before turning 100.
“She certainly broke the family record,” Miller said. “I think her adaptability is her secret,” meaning she endured the typical hardships of life. She lived through the Great Depression but never mentioned being unhappy then, just observing how they had good neighbors and how they all shared everything.
“That’s kind of the way she reacted to life in general,” Miller said, adding that her mother always adapted to life’s challenges much like the Apostle Paul.
“You need to be thankful for every day the Lord lets you live,” Miller said of her mother’s attitude.