Sycamore Springs honors Helen Fetzer on Centenarian’s Day

Published 8:30 am Monday, September 30, 2019

Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community paid tribute to Helen Fetzer, 100, on National Centenarian’s Day, Sept. 22.

National Centenarian’s Day is observed annually to recognize and honor those who are 100 years of age or older. The day was originally proclaimed as an opportunity to listen to their life stories and learn from their wisdom.

Fetzer, born Jan. 2, 1919, in Elizabethton, lived in the “first house on Siam Road” for most of her life before joining Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community in 2016.

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She says she has no secret for a long life, but knows you can only take your life one day at a time and live it as you should.

“I don’t have any secrets, I just live it day by day. I just do what I have to do and do it right, and I read my Bible every day to see what the Lord tells me,” says Fetzer.

She believes this is the best advice she can offer the younger generation.

“Well, I think the younger generation’s pretty smart. If they do the things they should do every day, they’ll be okay,” says Fetzer.

She has always had a heart for the younger generations who have given her so much joy. Fetzer recalls how she and her husband, John, devoted their careers to public education. In Knox County, Fetzer worked as a secretary, teacher and principal at a school which served 24 students. She later founded the first kindergarten at Elizabethton’s Keenburg Elementary, while her husband helped establish a school for first through third grade students on Elizabethton’s East Side.

Fetzer met her husband, who was her roommate’s brother, at Carson-Newman College in 1937. They married in 1945 and had four children, two of whom are deceased.

During World War II she took the opportunity to help her country when the military allowed women volunteers to serve. Fetzer says she was affected by the number of students who were emotional over family members going to war in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and knew she had to play a role in America’s struggle.

Fetzer credits her parents for having the most influence in her life.

“They were poor, but they found a way to feed us. They usually had a cow, and my daddy learned to keep bees and take care of them. They gave us honey and sweetness,” Fetzer says.

That kind of compassion has guided her throughout 100 years of giving back to her family, pupils and community, she says.

“Mrs. Helen Fetzer is such a joy at Sycamore Springs. Her simplicity and elegance towards life is a light for all of us, and we are more than happy to honor her this Centenarian’s Day,” says Rhonda Mitchell, executive director of Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community.