By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – From the front yard of the house she grew up in on Marion Avenue, lifelong Lincoln Parker Clara Jarrell celebrated her centennial with well-wishers and a multiple police car drive-by.
“Everyone in the neighborhood knows who Clara Jarrell is,” her step-granddaughter Christy First of Taylor said. “She is strong, she is independent and she is very caring and very sweet.”
Jarrell’s friend and bunco buddy, Martha Warren, said Jarrell’s positive attitude likely contributes to her longevity as well.
“She’s just happy all the time,” she said.
Warren said Jarrell like to crochet, knit and do cross stitch embroidery.
Her niece, Janet Desantis of Brownstown Township, said Jarrell dressed dolls for the Goodfellows’ “No Child Without a Christmas” program for 10 years.
Jarrell also made more that 200 pillowcase dresses for the Little Dresses for Africa non-profit, and has knit afghans for charities.
“She is everybody’s favorite aunt,” Desantis said.
She said she remembers going to Jarrell’s house at Christmastime as a child, singing holiday songs and enjoying her aunt’s homemade fudge.
Desantis said Jarrell had five sisters and one brother, and that a sister, age 90, and her 93-year-old brother are still alive, and Jarrell’s mother lived to be 107, so longevity may run in the family.
Jarrell nonchalantly attributes her longevity to “good genes” and to “taking life as it comes.”
Her father died when she was 9 years old, during the Great Depression, and while her family was poor, everyone else was, too, so it didn’t really bother them.
Jarrell said her first job was at Lincoln Park Screw Products, after which she worked in production at Scott Paper for 20 years. Following that, she worked for eight years at Kmart.
She said longevity is fine as long as one feels good. She said she’s had good health, and has never had a surgery, nor broken a bone.
What advice would Jarrell recommend to others?
“Just be happy, and be kind,” she said.
Steve Short, who knows her through First Baptist Church of Lincoln Park, attributes Jarrell’s longevity to her faith and the fact that she keeps busy.
“She is just a wonderful lady,” he said.
Former Lincoln Park Deputy Police Chief Joe Lavis, who is a Meals on Wheels volunteer, said Jarrell is “spunky.”
Meals on Wheels volunteer Terry Thompson said Jarrell is energetic, and he hopes he has as much energy when he hits the century mark.
“She’s pretty friendly,” Thompson said.
Lavis, however, had a better reason for Jarrell’s longevity.
“She attributes a lot of it to chocolate,” he said, in a tongue-in-cheek nod to her favorite indulgence.