Harrell thrives on hard work

Published 1:02 am Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Arthur Harrell, who turns 101 today, eyes a cake given to him as part of his birthday celebration. (Submitted Photo)

Editor’s note: The following is a first-person account written by a teenage visitor from England. He and his family, including his mother, who is from Washington, are in Beaufort County on vacation.


Special to the Daily News

Washington resident Arthur Harrell turns 101 today.

Harrell is one of 10 children born to Jimmy and Eva Harrell, who were lifelong Washington residents.

I had the honor of talking with this man who has spent more than 100 years on Earth and lived through practically the entire 20th century. I got to hear stories about his life and to try and understand how he’s been able to live so long.

Harrell was an avid farmer, with a passion for work that is admirable.

“That’s what I enjoy,” he said.

He left military service because he felt it was not enough for him, and he needed to get somewhere where he could work. His love of work could possibly the reason for his longevity.

Harrell is a generous man. Over the years, he always made sure he had something to give to people who visited him, items like vegetables or grapes.

“He loved his neighbours and friends. He loved to talk to them,” said his sister Geneva Whichard. “He was always a good Samaritan.”

Harrell attributes his longevity, at least partially, to his exercise regimen. Though he never played organized sports, every day he would run a couple of miles before breakfast.

“He loved to walk,” said Whichard.

Harrell smoked for 45 years, which makes his longevity even somewhat more impressive.

Perhaps longevity is in his genetics. His parents both lived to the age of 87. Four of his nine siblings are alive.

Harrell has two daughters, Gwen Jordan and Sandra Dickson, who live nearby and take care of him.

Harrell could not name just one significant event he witnessed during his lifetime.

“They’re so many that are important,” he said.

“He’s seen so many it’s probably hard to for him to choose one,” brother-in-law Warren Whichard said.

Is there anything Harrell wishes he could have done differently?

“I don’t know,” he said.

“He must have done everything right,” joked Dickson.

Harrell said he’s lived a good life.

“I can’t complain,” he said. “I’ve served my purpose.”

Has Harrell’s lifestyle changed since he turned 100? Though he finds it hard to see and hear sometimes, he makes his breakfast and does his laundry every morning.

“I’m not completely helpless,” he asserted.

He watches the news on TV, listens to music on channel 7 and listens to church services Sundays.

Harrell has lots of wisdom to impart.

I was interested to find out, in the end, what advice he would give to younger people.

“I know one thing: if you don’t work, you can’t be happy.”

Though I hate to say it, I think we better listen to him.