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Turning 102

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Forest woman celebrates birthday with family

By Tom Wilmoth

Virginia Robertson has always worked hard and though she turned 102 years old this past Sunday she’s not yet ready to slow down.

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    “I do everything I want to do,” Virginia said this week about remaining active. “I worked hard all my life — from the time I was knee-high to a duck.”

    Virginia was born on Aug. 16, 1907, in Franklin County, one of six children. She moved to Bedford County in 1920 and graduated from Moneta High School. In 1930 she married Wilbur Herbert Robertson and they moved to the Robertson homeplace in Forest. She’s lived there since.

    She played an active role in helping run the family dairy farm. Her husband died in 1966 and she kept the farm going for several years after that.

    Over the years Virginia has enjoyed playing the piano, crocheting and hand making quilts for all of her grandchildren. And she has quite a family including three girls and four boys,  13 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

    A member of the Eastern Star for five decades, Virginia also was a member of the garden club in Forest for years and still enjoys working outside with her flowers. She has remained active at Forest Methodist Church and taught Sunday School and sang in the choir for years. Every Sunday morning she can possibly get there, she’s there.

    “I still work in the flower garden,” she said. “I love to get outside.” She mowed her yard with a push mower until she was 90.

    And she’s not afraid to get in the middle of the action. Not too long ago a dog came in her yard and got into a fight with her dog. She jumped right into the middle of the action to break it up.

    As she describes it, life has had its ups and downs, but she’s stayed healthy and has taken little medicine over the years.

    Virginia drove a car well into her 90s until bad eyesight forced her to stop. She kept all of her driver’s licenses over the years — she started driving in 1924 — and she was upset when the Department of Motor Vehicles wouldn’t let her keep her last license to complete the set.

    She has enjoyed getting a ride now and then and after a snow a few winters ago she took the opportunity to be pulled in a sled behind a three-wheeler. She'd like to have more snow.

    Her family says Virginia’s door has always been open and the generations that have come behind her have taken advantage of that. The grandchildren knew, however, that though they could have the run of the kitchen that they’d always have to clean up.

    “So much has happened,” Virginia states, looking back over the years.

    Alison Robertson, who is originally from England, remembers her first meeting with Virginia  several years ago. “The first thing she did with me is to have me snap beans,” said Alison, who was used to buying her produce at a grocery store.

    Virginia’s grandson, Greg Robertson, said they were always welcome with open arms at his grandmother’s home. “But she was not afraid to give you a whipping either,” he said, if the grandchildren got out of line. He recalls trips to Altavista at Easter by his grandmother to volunteer at an Easter Egg hunt for the disabled.

    Family and friends gathered Saturday to celebrate her birthday.

    Over the years she made numerous sacrifices for her children: Herbert Robertson, Ernest Robertson, Sedella Austin, Henry Robertson, Rebecca Tinnell and Earl Robertson.” She was always willing to make a sacrifice,” noted Sedalla, about their mom.

    Added Henry: “We were dirt poor.” That meant at one point sleeping out on a screened-in porch because of a lack of room in the house, even during the winter.

    What advice does Virginia Robertson have for the youth of today? “To behave and do things right,” she said.

    Last week Virginia remembered as a young girl walking with her father after a big snow. She was having a hard time striding big enough to walk in his footsteps, so he began taking smaller steps so she could keep up. Today, at 102, it’s her family following behind her, trying to keep up.

    “I’ve really enjoyed my life,” Virginia says, looking back with a smile.