In Apr. 5 issue, Russell County News
By Greg Well, Managing Editor
LEFT: Ms. Pearlie Luttrell at her 100th birthday celebration
"We barely got there and people started pouring in,” said Darlene Luttrell of Windsor.
Friends and family traveled from as far away as Chicago to join Pearlie Luttrell in celebrating her 100th birthday last Saturday at the Russell County RECC office community room.
Many came from across Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana to commemorate her milestone birthday.
For the better part of her 100 years, Ms. Pearlie was a hard worker who lived life fully each day. She was born, the next to the youngest of 12 children March 21, 1908 to John Henry and Melinda Norfleet in Casey County.
She grew up, like most in her community, on a farm milking cows, toting water from a spring and cooking on a wood stove.
They made their butter and stored the milk and butter in a spring house.
She remembers making her own clothes in her youth.
“I guess I was still in my teens when I made my first dress,” said Ms. Pearlie. “I didn’t have a pattern. I just wacked her out.”
She laughed at her own colorful use of the language admitting how she loved to sew.
Even as a centenarian, she has a very quick wit and sharp mind.
As she was growing up, she said she remembers always being prepared for company with plenty of food for everyone.
She said she and her mom made plates full of pan apple pies on their table because they never knew who would be there visiting Saturday night or Sunday.
“When we’d go to church, Mom never knew who we’d bring home for dinner,” said Ms. Pearlie.
Over the years, Ms. Pearlie has led a very full and productive life.
She was married to Kenneth Luttrell for 32 years until he became sick and passed away.
During their marriage, they made their living dairy farming and they also raised tobacco.
After her husband’s passing, Ms. Pearlie was left to tend to the farm on her own but she had help from her sister Oda and her husband, who was Kenneth’s brother, Glen Luttrell as well as others in the family.
On Sundays, she went to church at Pinetop Church of Christ, with Oda and Glen Luttrell.
She had a drivers license and a truck but she never felt safe driving so she relied on friends and family for transportation.
Ms. Pearlie rarely ventured far from her roots in the Windsor community. She traveled to Indiana once, Ohio once and once to Florida.
Most of her traveling was done with family to visit other relatives. Her trip to Florida in her 80’s was unique because she stayed in a motel and saw the ocean for the first and only time in her life.
Being an outdoors person, Ms. Pearlie loved gardening. She said she had a little Cub tractor that she used to plow corn and she mowed her own yard each week using a push mower.
She derived much pleasure planting and growing a renowned vegetable garden.
Eventually, others came to plow the garden that she tended.
“They plowed it and I took it from there with a goose neck hoe,” Ms. Pearlie said.
From all accounts, her garden was always beautiful and bountiful.
She says she never ate store bought food except things she couldn’t get at home like dried pintos and other dry goods.
Ms. Pearlie never strayed away from her homespun, pioneering lifestyle.
She continued doing the work that she loved in her garden, in her yard, making fried apple pies, and crocheting doilies well into her nineties.
“There’s no telling how many doilies she gave away,” said niece and caretaker Darlene Luttrell.
She surrounded herself with friends throughout her life.
“I’ve enjoyed my life and I enjoy people,” Ms. Pearlie said.
It’s plain to see, by the folks who joined her to celebrate her birthday, that people enjoy her also.
Roy and Darlene Luttrell, who hosted the party along with their daughters Vicki Uppencamp, Debbie Brown and Sherri Stewart, said the guest book was signed by well over 100 attendees.
Some missed signing they book, but they estimate around 150 came to mark the occasion.
So far, she has received more than 150 cards from well wishers. Many include remembrances of good times shared.
Someone asked her if she received a card from the President. She said no but that she did get one she was more pleased with from an old friend who is very sick in the hospital and still took the time to send a card.
At home, she is virtually surrounded by gifts and flowers.
Among the gifts is an honor bestowed by Jamestown Mayor, R. Brooks Bates who proclaimed March 29th Pearlie Luttrell day commemorating her 100 years.
The day became a history lesson for some including an 84 year old lady who said never in her lifetime has she seen a 100 year old person.
Those who attended her party were treated to a stroll down memory lane by Darlene Luttrell’s photo display of Pearlie throughout the years.
Her lightening fast wit, clever retorts and broad contagious smile have endeared and entertained many people from all walks of life over the years.
Her one liners bring almost as much laughter in the retelling as they did she when originally told them.
Recently, she recounted her wedding day telling family that Kenneth at age 21 and she at age 24 had decided to marry so they drove over to the preacher’s house without telling anyone and got married.
The detail that cracked them up was the preacher walked outside and married them in their car. So much for Las Vegas thinking they had the first drive through weddings!
“Someone gave me a gift of 2 pennies when I got married and I ain’t been broke since,” she said with a grin.
A listener wondered if she still had the pennies and asked where they were and she retorted, “Why? Do you want ‘em?”
This day and time, most people don’t make it to 100 years of age and are only memorialized after they’re gone.
Ms. Pearlie has the benefit of both living a rich, long life and experiencing her family and friends’ tribute to it.
“It was a good day,” said Ms. Pearlie. “I enjoyed it.”