POWHATAN – A lifelong resident of Ballsville was surrounded by family and friends this weekend as he celebrated his 100th birthday.
Porter Smith, who now resides at The Laurels at Willow Creek, is having back-to-back weekend parties to celebrate his entry into the world on Aug. 24, 1919. A party was held in his honor on his actual birthday at The Laurels.
Another party will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31 at his home church, Mt. Pero Baptist Church, 1530 Cook Road, Powhatan. All who know him are welcome to come celebrate his life.
Smith was upbeat and teasing throughout his interview with the Powhatan Today last Thursday, just two days before his birthday. He joked with staff and volunteers and his niece, Alfreda Terrell, who was visiting him.
Smith has resided at The Laurels for about four years, but other than that and a stint in the U.S. States Army in the 1940s, he spent his entire life in Ballsville.
Smith grew up with his five sisters and four brothers on a farm that raised corn, tobacco and wheat. He said he finished seventh grade but had to quit so his sisters could attend.
During the years he spent serving in the army, Smith earned eight medals, including the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with a Bronze Star Attachment.
His unit helped construct the 1,522-mile-long Alaskan-Canadian Highway and was later sent to Calcutta, India just before the end of World War II.
As early as when he completed basic training, Smith said he was already yearning to be back home in Ballsville, where he returned after he got out of the service.
In the decades that followed, Smith returned to the work he had been doing before the war – cleaning houses, painting, and doing yard work and other jobs.
Even though he had retired by the time he went to The Laurels, he was still independent and active, including raising flowers and serving on the usher board at his church, said Cordelia Davis, another niece.
These days, Smith stays busy by coloring adult coloring books. He said he didn’t particularly like it at first but has grown used to it as a way to pass the time. He has his own coloring station in the activity room that holds books yet to be done and a box of coloring pages that one of the staff members has laminated for him.
Smith’s mother, Lucy Crump Smith, lived to be 100 before she died, Terrell said.
Porter Smith didn’t wax poetic or reflect on how he has lived this long. Nor did he pinpoint any one time in his life that was more special than the othera, saying “all of it was important to me.”
“Yeah I had a good life. Ain’t nobody bothered me,” he said.
And when asked about reaching age 100, he just smiled.
“I don’t believe I am that old because I don’t feel it. I ducked the devil I reckon,” he said with a laugh.
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.