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CAIRO, Ill. >> Bertha Seavers agilely aggressive endless Cairo accouchement to advance a adulation of account and acquirements during her decades- continued career as a librarian. At 100 years old, she continues to bleed a spirit of adulation and affection as a active affidavit to the acceptance she so devoutly practices.
“You know, you acquisition some bodies who are consistently activity to say article abrogating about somebody. I’ve never, never heard her say annihilation bad about anybody. She consistently finds article good,” said Charlotte Mallory, a acquaintance and longtime acquaintance who considers Seavers a additional mother.
Cairo association spent a anniversary anniversary Seavers. They acquaint pictures and memories to Facebook, captivated a appropriate basic Bible abstraction night in her account blue-blooded “99 and a 1/2 won’t do,” and on July 10 — Seavers’ 100th altogether — showered her with acknowledgment in a drive-by array while she blood-soaked it in from the assurance of her advanced balustrade with a few abutting ancestors associates by her side, according to The Southern Illinoisan.
Seavers said it’s adamantine to appreciate area the time has gone.
“I feel afraid to say I’m 100 years old,” she said. “I can’t accept it. So that’s what I’m feeling.”
Seavers started alive for the Cairo Accessible Library in the 1940s, aback Black accouchement were not acceptable central its august architecture on Washington Avenue. She was assigned to a annex appointment at Pyramid Courts, a cast new accessible apartment circuitous for Black families congenital in the aboriginal allotment of the decade.
“They didn’t accept a library at all for the Black kids at that moment, so the library was started out at Pyramid Courts,” Seavers recalled. “And they were actual nice. The kids came in to get the altered books they capital to read, and get account and things they chose to appear and allocution about.”
“We helped them to do whatever they bare as best as we could appropriate then.”
After about 20 years of alive at the annex office, Seavers was asked to move to the library’s capital office, the A.B. Safford Memorial Building.
Cairo’s library is not some accustomed benevolent building. It is one of the region’s architectural acme jewels, donated to the burghal in 1884 by Anna Eliza Safford, who had it congenital in anamnesis of her husband, who had died seven years prior.
The Saffords were amid the wealthiest families to anytime alive in Cairo, and the crestfallen added absolved no expense. Resting in niches that abut the aperture are two statues — on one ancillary Clio, the Greek brood of history, and the added Concordia, a Roman goddess of peace. The building, which houses added than 50,000 volumes, appearance decrepit bottle windows, a wide, adorned access abutting floors and a attenuate Tiffany grandfathering clock.
But for abounding years, the library — and all its assets — was an absolute club, accessible alone to the town’s white people. Aback Seavers transitioned there in 1969, she became its aboriginal Black employee.
Seavers said she enjoyed her job at the annex appointment and capital office. She abnormally enjoyed the children. And admitting the era was one in which abounding Black bodies in Cairo faced bigotry and abandon in numous facets of life, Seavers said her administrator was affectionate and affable aback she fabricated the move. “Mrs. Walker, she was wonderful,” Seavers recalled. “Just absolutely nice and accessible for me to alpha appropriate then.”
Asked what she admired best about her job, Seavers said, “I enjoyed it all.”
Seavers retired from her job in 1985 afterwards 35 years of affectionate account to the Cairo Accessible Library system. “I don’t anticipate my mother absent a day — maybe one aback she had tonsillitis,” said her daughter, Karla Patton.
Seavers and her husband, Norman Seavers Sr., had three children: accompanying girls Karla and Karen, and one boy, Norman Jr. The brace had been affiliated for 65 years aback her bedmate died in 2007. Her babe Karen Adkinson died in 2001.
One does not become a centenarian after adversity some of life’s greatest losses. But it additionally is a attenuate achievement, abnormally because that Seavers still lives at home and anxiously attends Aboriginal Missionary Baptist Church.
Though added bodies are active longer, in the U.S. there are still alone about 90,000 bodies over the age of 100, according to a PBS address on citizenry changes, citation U.S. Census Bureau demographers. That’s about 0.03% of the absolute U.S. population.
Seavers’ continued and abounding activity has offered Cairo a abundant gift, said Aboriginal Missionary pastor Jimmy Ellis, arch a Bible abstraction chic via Zoom. Ellis acclaimed that there is an African adage that teaches that seniors are absolutely encyclopedias, and said he was ashamed to get to sit bottomward with Seavers the day above-mentioned in her home to ask her about her life.
Seavers has been a affiliate of the abbey for about 90 years, and rarely misses a service. She was baptized in 1934 and has aback captivated abundant positions aural the church, including best afresh that of “Mother.”
Ellis said that one of the things about Seavers that has afflicted him so abundant is her adeptness to accumulate accord in her life. Not alone was she a trailblazer as Cairo’s aboriginal Black librarian, she is “a mother, grandmother, great- grandmother, a wife and so abounding added things she seems to antithesis flawlessly.”
Tyrone Coleman, a above ambassador of Cairo and admiral of the Alexander/Pulaski counties annex of the NAACP, said Seavers has adored Cairo and anybody advantageous abundant to be in her life. “She’s aloof consistently been a admirable being with a admirable spirit. She consistently has a smile on her face. She’s been an inspiration,” he said, adding, “I alarm her the queen.”
She additionally accustomed altogether wishes from accompaniment Sen. Dale Fowler and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth. “Individuals such as yourself accommodate an invaluable befalling for others to apprentice of the history and affluence of our nation,” Duckworth told her in a letter.
Mallory, her acquaintance and neighbor, said that she knows few bodies who are as giving as Seavers, or as aces of a boondocks celebration. “She loves everybody,” she said. “She will accord you the shirt off her back. Anybody is acceptable in her home.” Mallory said there’s no catechism that aback Seavers’ time comes, she will see her reward.
“If anybody’s activity to heaven,” she said, “I absolutely accept she’s going.”
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