Hebe McKenzie was not short of kisses, hugs and good wishes as family, friends and visitors joined her to celebrate her 100th birthday in Breakers on Tuesday evening.
Ms. McKenzie, who was born in Breakers on Sept. 26, 1917, to Anisette Webster, credited her long life to hard work, praising God and not worrying.
Guests marked the occasion with a birthday party and cake at her home. Emergency medical technicians were on hand to assist family members to help Ms. McKenzie from her house to a tent where the 50 or so well-wishers, including Bodden Town MLAs Anthony Eden and Alva Suckoo gathered to sing her happy birthday.
“Baba” Hebe spent most of her life helping others. “It was never about her,” said adopted daughter Meredith Rankine. “She was still going to church until she was no longer physical … even after that she would say she had to get up to get ready for church … she loved the Lord and praised him every chance she got.”
At 92, Ms. McKenzie began declining with Alzheimer’s. At 94, she could still move around but then she slowly became bed-ridden, Ms. Rankine said.
Guests sang her favorite hymn, “What a Day That Will Be When My Jesus I Shall See,” and read her favorite scripture verses before sharing anecdotes they held dear about Ms. McKenzie’s time serving the community.
“She was a well-dressed woman who made her way along the Breakers Road to attend the little Breakers church every Sunday,” said her friend Mary Lawrence.
Ms. Lawrence recalled Ms. McKenzie’s strong will during Hurricane Ivan when she told her she would be fine in her home. Eventually, Ms. Lawrence convinced her to leave her house, but not before Ms. McKenzie cooked a meal, ate, ironed her dress and packed her favorite things.
“You never came to Ms. McKenzie’s home and she did not quote you a scripture verse, prayed and had something good to say about everyone she knew,” Ms. Lawrence said.
Mr. Eden said she had a great effect on his two boys, she was always positive and politically aware of what was going on.
As a little girl growing up, Ms. McKenzie attended a little schoolhouse in Bodden Town. Later on, she twisted rope for a living, a skill she learned from her mother.
She did not have children of her own, but that did not stop her from raising others in the community.
Family and friends attributed Ms. McKenzie’s long life to her commitment to God, saying she gave her heart to the Lord, and lived as close to Him as she knew how and served him the best way she could.