Nathalie resident celebrates century of living

Nathalie native Annie B. Jennings enjoys a luncheon cruise on the Spirit of Washington in Washington, D.C. with her great-granddaughters.

It will be day when more memories are made and a great many memories of years gone by are recalled when Nathalie native Annie B. Jennings celebrates her 100th birthday on Saturday.

Jennings and her family plan to celebrate her centennial birthday on Saturday at Sunflower Baptist Church located at 4019 Lennig Road in Nathalie. Her friends and church family will be joining in the celebration too.

Born on Sept. 28, 1918 to Lonnie and Lillian Robinson, Jennings was the second of two children. Her older brother, Arthur, died as a young adult.

Her father also passed when she was very young leaving her mother a young widow who eventually moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to pursue a career.

At that time in her life Jennings went to live with her grandmother, Milliann Miller. The daughter of former slaves, Miller was a well-known mid-wife in the community and the matriarch of the family. She was affectionately known as “Mammy.”

Jennings had great memories of attending Halifax County schools and growing up on their farm in Republican Grove while playing with her Uncle Callan Miller who was one year “younger.” Together they also enjoyed the many interesting stories told them by her grandmother.

After meeting Henry Steward Jennings, she fell in love and they were married on March 3, 1937. He was drafted into the army and served in WWII.

After returning from the army they settled on a farm, and together they raised eight children. David Bradley, Thomas and Steward Henderson are deceased and with her to celebrate her 100th birthday are two sons, John (J.T.) and Wayne, and three daughters, Corliss, Linda and Lorraine.

Much pride was taken in helping her husband with his tobacco farm where she was known to be one of the fastest stringers in the community.

Canning and freezing fresh fruits and vegetables grown on the farm was just another talent she displayed, but they all ranked low when compared to the pride she took in being a loving and nurturing mother who provided the care and patience needed to raise her children.

Another of her many talents was her eye for crafts. If she saw it, she could make it. This included many of her outfits and some worn by her daughters to school at an early age.

Her specialty, however, was her ability to quilt. Entered in the Halifax County Fair, they took home several first place awards.

Remaining on the farm until her husband’s death in 1980, she then decided to purchase a home next to her youngest son, Wayne. They enjoyed many years of gardening, fishing and sharing delicious meals together.

Her family, as well as others, felt she made the best homemade rolls in town. People came from far and near asking for her recipe, but she shared it only with her daughters.

At this point in her life Jennings decided to take her first flight. She visited her daughter and son-in-law, Lorraine and Charles Dawkins, in Texas. The trip was so enjoyable she decided that traveling was something she might like doing. Whenever there was an opportunity to travel, by plane or by car, she took advantage of it. When visiting in Richmond with her daughter and son-in-law, Linda and Floyd Marable, they would often take her out --maybe to the mall, out to visit others or maybe just out to ride around. She often shared with her friends at home the many places throughout the country she had visited.

Going from store to store, with her friend, Gloria, developed within her a love for shopping. They loved to find a bargain. Gloria spoke of how energetic Jennings became on these ventures. She also spoke of the numerous times they became separated (lost) from one another. When rejoined, they simply moved on to the next store. At the end of the day, they planned for the next outing.

Because of her love for the out-of-doors fishing at the pond on the farm of her friend, Joan Whitt, was a joy. She often said Whitt's dogs, Maxi and Sammy, enjoyed the fishing as much as she did.

Throughout her life another love was her love for the church and God. Most of her church life was spent at Sunflower Baptist Church where she is presently considered the “Church Mother.” On each Sunday morning she looked forward to her daughter-in-law, Vicentia, taking her to church. In addition to feeding the flock there with her tasty homemade rolls, she also served on the usher board for many years before becoming an honorary member.

Jennings, with her warm and nourishing heart, has been selfless and generous for all of her family and friends. She has helped neighbors by cooking for them when they were ill or sitting with them when they needed a shoulder to lean on.

She never hesitated to visit her children’s homes to care for any of her 10 grandchildren: Lisa, Tonya, Alicia, Ashley, Donte’, LaShone, Derrick, Cedric, Kevin and Aaron.

Abria, Ziya, Darrin and Ariela, her four great-grands await their turn to be cared for and spoiled by their great-grandmother.

Jennings now resides in Lynchburg with her oldest daughter and son-in-law, Corliss and Raymond Riley. She moved there in her early 90s and joined The River City Pace program and actively participated in on-site activities.

When asked by many to what she credits her longevity, she simply answers by giving credit to her grandmother who lived to be over 100 years old but quickly adding “To God Be The Glory.”

She thanks Him for caring for her throughout the years and continuing to do so today.