By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
Nell Morgan never set out to reach the age of 100. Her friends and family said she had more important pursuits to conquer — but she did reach the milestone age Saturday, surrounded by loved ones at Portales’ Heartland continuing care center.
“It is a big deal,” Nell’s granddaughter Cheryl Julien said. “And we are proud of her because not only did she make it to 100 but she did a lot of other things besides that. She’s had a full life and a successful family. You can’t do much better than that.”
Saturday was such a big day for the family that Julien and her daughter Laura traveled from France to be with Nell.
“Maybe we will have another 100th birthday some time,” Julien said. “But not any time in the near future, and not another one of my grandmothers. So it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
“I think this just shows how many friends she has,” Nell’s daughter, Joy Best, said. “At her age, a lot of her peers are unable to come.”
Nell served as a teacher in several locations, including Floyd. She was married to state senator Ike Morgan for 69 years, actively helping her husband in farming and politics.
Nell is now one of two residents at Heartland who have reached 100, and if you ask those who know them best, longevity runs in the family.
“Our family lives pretty long,” Nell’s daughter Glenna Cooper said. “Her daddy was 92.”
Nell’s granddaughter, Barbara Rogers says that according to records, Nell’s great-grandmother lived to between 101 to 104 years of age.
“I think it’s genetics,” Best said.
Most of Saturday’s party-goers also noted Nell’s love of playing bridge to pass the time.
“She played bridge and she always said that that trumped father time,” Best said. “She hasn’t played since she’s been here — couldn’t find anybody to play with. She’s always been competitive. She always wanted — and still wants to be the first in and first out.”
“She’s always been really active, particularly with games,” Nell’s niece June Luce said. “I think that’s so important and I think she’s always been pretty conscious of her health in general. She really tried to stay on top of everything.”
“She’s a very intelligent woman,” Cooper said. “And she always tried to make us do the very best we could, and she encouraged us to achieve.”
Despite her competitive streak, those who know her best say that reaching the age of 100 has never been a goal for her.
“She never said a word about it,” Cooper said. “She really didn’t have that as a goal.”
Cooper made the trip from her home in Virginia to help her mother celebrate the event. And as Cooper says, it was her turn to make the long trip.
“She took real good care of her health. She was very active,” Cooper said. “She came to see me when she was 94, she came by herself.”
“She drove until she was 95,” Best said. “She did make that decision herself. There are days that she would like to be independent.”
Most of Nell’s 20 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren were on hand to help her celebrate.
“We’re all very proud that she made it to 100,” Cooper said. “I imagine she’s going to make it further.”
“This is just amazing,” Laura Julien, one of Nell’s 20 great-grandchildren said. “She’s a survivor.”