By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter
Bertha Mae Rivers, affectionally known as ‘Mother,’ celebrated a special milestone this weekend. The Tennessee native and longtime Toledoan turned 100 years old Saturday, November 4. Rivers was born November 4, 1923 in Brownsville, Tennessee and when asked how she reached the milestone the centenarian shared “[through] God’s grace and mercy.”
“I just thank God I know where I am and who I am and I know when the sun rises in the east and sets in the west” said Rivers. The honoree walked jubilantly into a room full of family members, friends and church members Saturday at her daughter’s home. In total there were seven generations celebrating with her that day, she noted.
Rivers is the last surviving of five siblings and has two children, Pearlie Williams and Willie Rivers, who were both present at the celebration. Rivers moved to Toledo, OH in 1951 and retired as a practical nurse from Mercy Hospital at the age of 61. She stated that her health changed when, at the age of 68, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now at the age of 100 she has been a breast cancer survivor for over 30 years.
She credits her good health, memory and long life to her faith in God. “She highly believes in God, and God has gotten her through the years that she has lived so far” remarked Laveeda Scott, eldest granddaughter. Rivers is a devoted member of the Glass City Church of Christ where she has been serving for over 35 years. In her spare time Rivers enjoys reading her Bible, watching TV and crossword puzzles.
The great, great, great grandmother is blessed with two children, five grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren, six great, great grandchildren and one great, great, great, grandchild –many of whom were present for her special day.
While the origins of her nickname ‘Mother’ from so many who lovingly know her, are unclear, her impact in her family’s life is certain.
“She’s a blessing in my life,” remarked granddaughter Kelly Williams. “When I was first hired [at General Motors 26 years ago] she watched both of my boys, got them off to school, taught them how to walk, potty trained them.” She reflected, “if it wasn’t for her I don’t know what I would do.”
“Bertha [has been] the greatest Auntie that I’ve ever known,” stated Tina Beauchamp niece. “She took me in a young kid and cared for me until I was able to stand on my own feet. My second daughter was born in her home and lived there for 16 years.” Beauchamp shared that people thought Rivers was her mother and her daughter’s grandmother. “I will always be forever grateful for all that she has done for me and will continue to do for me in prayer.”
Pastor Robert Birt, DMin, of Glass City Church of Christ blessed the food. Guests sang happy birthday, enjoyed food and cake while looking over family photos, history, and sharing well wishes and memories for ‘Mother’ on her special day.
“I feel great!,” exclaimed Rivers, “Goodbye, 99; hello, 100 – I can see the lightning but hard to hear the thunder!” she laughed.