Be thankful for each day, 100-year-old advises

Published 2:20 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Alna Mathers, seated next to Steve Smith, is surrounded by friends, from left, Robbie Green, Barbara and Ronald Redding, Claire and Fred Blake and Pat Smith. Mathers holds a copy of the book her husband, John Mathers, co-wrote about his World War II experiences, called, “Home from Siberia: The Secret Odysseys of Interned American Airmen in World War II.” (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

Alna Smith Mathers celebrated her 100th birthday three days early on Aug. 21 at a reception held in her honor by her friends and Grace Christian church family.

The Rev. Tommy Morgan said, “Alna Mathers is important to God the Father, as she is his child. She has been a blessing to all who know her and puts a smile on all of our faces.”

Ronald and Barbara Redding spoke of their friendship with Mathers and her husband, John. Both Mathers and Barbara Redding grew up on farms and their families raised cows, and their first getting-to-know each other conversation many years back centered around cows.

Mathers, Redding said, has loved every cow she ever owned.

“She bottle-fed and raised several calves because the mothers rejected them. The two she talks about to this day are Baby and Little Boy.”

Born in Paris, Ky., Mathers’ father worked for the railroad and moved his family to Birmingham in 1918. That move is Mathers’ earliest memory. She and her sister and best friend, Marion Dell, spent many happy years running the family farm.

Mathers loves to cook, and her favorite recipe is pecan pie, for which she is very popular among her friends.

In 1950, Mathers was married to John Mathers, a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander who was shot down three times in Siberia during World War II. The couple lived in Winter Park, Fla., where Mathers was very active in the Pink Ladies. She is also a longtime member of the D.A.R.

The Matherses had a cabin cruiser and Mathers has many good memories of times together spent on the water.

Claire and Fred Blake have become friends since visiting Mathers a few years back while she was hospitalized with a broken hip.

“I went to cheer her up,” Claire said, “but it ended up that she cheered me up. We have always been uplifted spending time with Alna.”

“Her only weakness,” Fred Blake teased, “is her love for chocolate. Taking her chocolate is our passport to a visit.”

Mathers’ birthday cake was indeed chocolate, and everyone enjoyed homemade sandwiches and cookies provided by congregation members.

Mathers said she never expected to live to be 100, even though her mother lived to be 106. She gives these words for living a fulfilling life, “Always treat others the way you want to be treated. Live one day at a time and be thankful for each day.”

Laura Brookhart can be reached by email at