Longtime educator prepares for 100

Published 8:01 pm Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thelma Pierce is doing something Saturday that not many people ever get to do. She will celebrate her 100th birthday.

Pierce said her healthy diet and daily glass of buttermilk have helped keep her going.

“We ate all kinds of food,” Pierce said. “We ate vegetables.”

Pierce said her brother would always remind her to chew her food thoroughly and eat slowly.

Pierce has also always been an active individual.

“I was always very active,” she said. “My mom thought I was too active.”

Pierce, the third of 11 children, said she and her siblings would often play games outside.

“We didn’t even have a TV,” Pierce said. “We didn’t even have a Victrola. We were more creative than children are now.”

When Pierce was a child, she enjoyed playing baseball. To make a ball, Pierce and her friends would unravel an old sock and wind it into a ball around a small, hard object.

But life was not all games. Pierce also attended school, where she found a direction for her future.

Pierce’s sixth-grade teacher, Ms. Holly, was a kind and sweet woman.

“I just admired her so much,” Pierce said. “I thought it would be nice to be a teacher.”

So Pierce went to college and began teaching at a one-teacher school in Fairview, where she taught first through sixth grade.

She eventually taught at Enterprise School, where she stayed for 28 years, and then finished up her teaching career at Clanton Elementary School before she retired to take care of her father, who lived to age 98.

After 39 years of teaching, Pierce instructed hundreds of students, and at one time had 49 children in her class.

Pierce enjoyed her students and many of them have kept in touch through the years.

“All my students were good,” she said. “I loved them and they knew it.”

Since she retired, Pierce has enjoyed gardening and traveling. She recently traveled to Salt Lake City with her nephew.

More than 200 friends and family members are expected to attend Pierce’s birthday celebration Saturday from 2-5 p.m. at the Clanton Recreation Center.