Ila Jones was born on Aug. 17, 1903, to John Stargel and Georgia Stargel. She has lived at Roman Court Assisted Living since 2007.
From a young age, Jones grew up around education. Her aunt was a teacher and helped her with math and reading. She remembered the words forming stories when she was little and loved reading.
“By the time I could walk, I could read,” said Jones.
Inspired by her love of education, she became a teacher around the age of 13. She sought out other children around Cave Spring and had between 3 and 15 students at any one time. The rural area had few roads but she wasn’t intimidated.
“I use to go out and hunt me some students, bring them in and teach them,” said Jones.
During the course of her life, Jones married twice and both of her husbands are now deceased. The oldest of three sisters, she recalled being ready to get married around the age of 25. She met her first husband, John Sewell, in Cave Spring.
“I just went out and said, ‘Here I am,’” said Jones with a laugh. “If he said yes then I’d say, ‘Come on let’s have some fun.’”
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, she said life didn’t change much.
She came from a farming family and grew much of what they needed for food in a garden that included tomatoes and other vegetables.
“We didn’t worry about anything,” said Jones. “We just lived in the woods.”
Her transportation of choice around rural Cave Spring included mule, wagon and buggy but the thick trees often made it more practical to walk to most places.
“The animals couldn’t go through the woods like we could,” said Jones.
She later married Frank Jones. She has two sons and numerous grandchildren who came together Saturday for her birthday. On Tuesday, residents and caretakers will have another party for her.
When asked what her secret was to living a long and healthy life, her eyes twinkled as her face brightened up into a smile.
“I just have fun,” said Jones.