100 years young

Published 8:24 am Thursday, June 6, 2019

Contributed by

Becky Birchfield

Joda Ollis

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Joda Ollis was born in Avery County, N.C., on April 10, 1915. She finished high school and did one year of business college. Mrs. Ollis had to quit college to help take care of her ailing mother.

In 1936 Joda married Stokes Ollis, who was a highway construction engineer. Stokes built highways from state to state for 30 years. Joda moved around a lot, setting up each home for every new job Stokes took.  Stokes’ last job was at Bryson City, N.C., building a bypass around that town. He then retired in 1976.

After Stokes had retired Joda and her husband settled in Elizabethton, Tenn. They resided there 11 years then Stokes became sick. In the year 1987 Joda says that God called her husband home. They were married for 51 years and nine days.

Joda misses her husband dearly and says that it has been 32 years since his passing. She will have been at The Waters of Roan Highlands for nine years on December 1. Joda listens to her Bible daily and attends church and Bible study as often as possible. She also writes poetry and songs and can recite them word for word. Joda is also the President of the Resident Council.

She wants everyone to know that she contributes her long life and many blessings to God. She states, “All that I have and all that I am I owe to my Heavenly Father.”

Onza Johnson

Onza Johnson was born on September 16, 1916 in Roan Mountain, Tenn., at the head of Sugar Hollow Road. In 1937 when she was 21 she married a man named Lincoln Johnson. Mrs. Johnson had moved around from Virginia to Maryland, then back to Tennessee.

Some of Onza’s jobs included cooking for sawmill workers in the early ’40s, 17 months at the North American Rayon Plant during WWII, 10 years at Cannon Memorial Hospital and lastly, she worked at Roan Mountain Supermarket for 17 years. She quit the Supermarket when she was 85 years old.

She says her key to living a long life is a healthy living style and hard work. She never drank, hardly ate junk food and had sodas occasionally. She however did smoke but quit the habit at the age of 44. Onza also says that you must get to bed early and rise early in the morning.

Onza is still a very spunky woman who enjoys church, bingo, singing, and the company of her sister. She always has a smile on her face and laughs often. She greets the staff at The Waters of Roan Highlands by name and is still able to do a lot for herself.

Retha Whitehead

Retha Whitehead was born in Roan Mountain, Tenn., to the late Frank and Myrtle Cornett. In 1935 she married Joe Whitehead, a boy she went to school with. She says that she has known Joe most of her life. 

Joe worked at North American Rayon Plant in Elizabethton, Tenn., until the day that he retired. Retha had the big job of being a housewife and devoted mother. Together they raised two sons, Jerry and Estel Whitehead. She states that Estel behaved better than Jerry did.

Retha and Joe had been married for 49 years. In 1984 Joe passed away. Retha’s family has now expanded to four grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.

Retha is a very active resident at The Waters of Roan Highlands. You can see her daily attending activities such as church, crafts, singing, and bingo. Retha contributes her long life to God, serving the Lord, and having her family. Retha is a member of Little Mountain Baptist Church and has attended that church since she was a baby.