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Ollis celebrates 102nd birthday week at the Waters of Roan Highlands

There’s never a dull moment when talking to Joda Ollis.
For over a century, Ollis has continued to bring joy to people of North Carolina and Tennessee. Currently residing at the Waters of Roan Highlands in Roan Mountain, the Power Mill native has had a busy with friends, family, and staff celebrating her 102nd birthday, which is Monday, April 10.
“Friends coming in, and doing activities here … just enjoying it,” Ollis responded with a smile Friday evening when asked about how she’s celebrated the week.
Activities are something Ollis enjoys. Whether it’s the weekly Bible studies, service on Sunday or bingo, Ollis always puts a smile on the faces she comes in contact with on a daily basis.
“When she meets someone, they come back to talk with her,” Sandra Birchfield with Roan Highlands said. “They just love her to death.”
The feeling is mutual, according to Ollis.
“They’ve been wonderful,” she said about the staff at Roan Highlands. “Everybody’s been wonderful. This is such a good place to be. I’ve been here seven years the first of December, and I don’t think you could be in a better place. We have a wonderful staff here, wonderful nurses, CNA workers, and housekeepers. They’re all wonderful.”
Ollis was born on April 10, 1915, and joyfully recalls her experiences growing up.
“We had no electricity, no running water, no plumbing, carried water from the spring, churned the milk to make our butter, milked the cows, slopped the hogs, fed chickens, carried in firewood,” Ollis rattled off. “We had no televisions, no computer, no internet … 19 E wasn’t hard-topped yet, it was a gravel road.”
Ollis then came across the mountain later in life to live in Elizabethton for many years.
“I lived in Elizabethton for 39 years thought,” Ollis said. “My husband (Stokes) built highways, a lot of these interstates you travel on, he helped build. For 30 years.”
While remembering different items throughout her life, including the first Model T Ford, the Missionary Baptist always enjoys discussing her faith.
“I was raised in a Christian home,” she said. “I had a great mother and father, and we had a great home.”
Ollis attributes her health to God and encourages the public to always keep Him first in their lives.
Even though Ollis enjoys the activities at Roan Highlands, there’s always time to come up with a poem.
In her spare time, Ollis weaves together different poems discussing various topics. Whether it’s her life, different events or weather, it all brings a positive vibe into the facility.
“It’s all related to something good,” she said. Everything I write.”
During Friday’s discussion, Ollis cited from memory her latest poem, titled The Four Seasons:
“God gave us four beautiful seasons, summer, winter, spring and fall
And the one I like very best is springtime; it’s the most beautiful of them all
We look out and see the little flowers, sticking their heads up out of the cold dark earth
And the robins, chattering away in the trees, we see the beautiful weeping willows, with their long graceful branches, looking like yards of green chavonne as they sway in the breeze
We look out and see the farmer with his tractor, plowing up the ground, getting ready to plant the seed, when the sun warms up the ground
Then when the summer sun gets hotter, there’s much work to be done
There are yards to mow, gardens to hoe, and fields of hay to be baled and cut for his cattle for when the snow begins to blow
Then there’s the garden produce to take care of, the fruits and berries at their best
When he slips away and takes a little vacation, just to get some needed rest
Then when summer slips into fall, and the trees put on their beautiful coats of all these beautiful bright colors
And the yellow goldenrod turns brown, and the fields of big yellow pumpkins lie scattered on the ground, And the trees in the apple orchards with fruit all bending down
Then when harvest time has ended, and the work is done on the farm, he slips out and gets in some winter wood to keep his family warm
He comes in and slumps down into a big comfortable chair, in front of an open fire,
He watches as the logs burn, and the sparks as they disappear,
Then he looks up and thanks his Heavenly Father, for all the many blessings he’s bestowed upon him, all throughout the year
Then he gets up and looks out the window at the snow-capped mountains, and the snow on the field, and he looks out in the distance and sees the Christmas lights, all blinking with a glow
And he stops, and he thinks ‘My, it’s almost Christmas when family and friends will be dropping in, loaded down with good cheer, helping us celebrate Christ’s birthday, the most blessed time of all the year.’
Yes we have wonderful seasons, each unique in its own special way, God shares his blessings upon each season, for our survival every day.”
Ollis added she’s looking for to celebrating her birthday Sunday with family at Shirley’s restaurant.