New Baltimore native Mary Elton Hall Coleman is of the 80,000 centenarians in the U.S. She celebrated her 102nd birthday with family and friends on Saturday, Feb. 1. “She always said she’d get there,” recalled a family member.
Born and raised outside Warrenton, Coleman easily recalls stories from childhood about growing up on a farm with six brothers and sisters. She remembers Warrenton when she worked in the local five and dime after school and on the farm both mornings and evenings.
There were hard times, when she lost two sisters to diphtheria and when their family home burned down. She said she learned early to deal with life as it came.
Later, she married and moved to Washington, D.C. and then to Maryland where she and her husband Tommy became the focal point in keeping all the family and the extended families and friends together. Her holiday feasts are still legendary among them all.
Her key to longevity? Always take things in stride and keep looking forward.
Following a long career as an accountant for a chain of fine clothing stores in D.C. and operating a small catering business, Coleman spent many years creating amazing crafts; she was exhibiting at craft shows until her mid-90s.
Her memories are fresh, and she can recount numerous stories from those 102 years, including her personal experiences of being in Washington, D.C. on V-Day and the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Several years ago, she returned to Fauquier County to be near family and friends and continues to be the center of the family for her nephew Jim “Coach” Pulchine, her niece Kay Pulchine, and her great-niece Lucia Mangano, who live in the area. She has other family spread from Illinois to Tennessee and was pleased to have many of them travel to help her celebrate this birthday along with her numerous longtime friends here that she also calls family.
When one of her guests at the party told her she looked great, she looked up, smiled and said, “I just can’t fight it!”