Christine Eller celebrates 97 years while social distancing

Published 3:58 pm Thursday, May 21, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Sitting on her front lawn, wearing a pink sash with a banner and balloons behind her, Christine Eller celebrated her birthday last week.
The 97-year-old was all smiles as her friends and loved ones waved, honked and drove by to wish her happy birthday. Some had even decorated their cars to commemorate the occasion.
According to Eller’s niece, Teresa Broome, birthdays in Eller’s family are always celebrated.
“Birthdays have always been very special in our family and we celebrate every one of them,” she said. “For the milestone birthdays of 80 and 90, we gave our Grandmother, Mother and Aunt Chris very special parties with family and friends. All turned out to be very large events. We celebrated Aunt Chris’ 90th birthday with a party at our church and over 200 guests attended. A true indication of how much she is loved!”
Broome said that due to COVID, the family wanted to continue the tradition in a safer way this year.
“This year, because of COVID-19, we decided to celebrate in a safer type of way,” she said. “We thought this would be fun and more people could participate without fear or worry and still maintain social distancing.”
Broome said the birthday idea was a family affair. “Along with my sister, Sharon, and my husband, Rick, we got together with Aunt Chris’ other nieces and nephews, including her great-nieces and nephews and together, gave her the drive by, honk, and wave party,” she said.
Broome describes her aunt as a second mother, and gave some insight into her 97 years.
Eller is an Elizabethton native, who is beloved and known affectionately as “Aunt Chris.” She was born in 1923 to WJB “Bill” and Opal Smith, and grew up with her older sister Geraldine and younger brother Bob, or Harvey as he was known as a kid. She graduated from Elizabethton High School, and married Hayes Eller, who passed in 1978. For 57 years, she worked as a clerk in the shipping office at North American Rayon, and was one of their last employees before closure. While she has no children, her nieces and nephews see her as another mother. She has extended family in various places, to name a few, including Mississippi, Georgia and even Ecuador.
Broome describes that despite her age, she is still just as active.
“At the age of 97, she is still a very active lady, especially at her church, First Baptist Church of Elizabethton, of which she has been a member since childhood,” she said. “Our preacher, Todd Hallman, described her as, ‘the little feisty lady who works in the kitchen when we have dinners together.'”
Eller still drives and even serves as a hostess at her church as well. Her hobbies over the years have included cooking meals she is known for, like sweet pickles and strawberry preserves, shopping, watching the Lady Vols, vacationing in Daytona Beach and even square dancing.
Eller’s family and pastor helped spread the word of the event, which ultimately led to around 70 cars arriving to share birthday wishes. Eller was beyond happy.
“It was so much fun. I just couldn’t believe all of the cars and so many friends that came by to wish me happy birthday,” she said. “I am a very fortunate lady, at my age, to have so many friends that care about me.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox