Belvin celebrates a century of life

Published 6:29 am Thursday, January 10, 2013

Judie Belvin at age 100

Judie Belvin reached the milestone age of 100 years old on Thursday, Jan. 10.

She is arguably an amazing centenarian, who continues to live in her own home and care for herself, just as she has done most of her life.

Belvin was born Jan. 10, 1913, in Woodville, Fla., and was the third of seven children. The family moved to Georgia when she was 7, and she grew up in West Bainbridge. When she was 15 years old, her mother died and she began caring for her younger brothers.

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At the age of 17, she married Warren Belvin and had her first child at age 18. In all, she gave birth to 11 children. She has outlived five of them. She has four daughters and two sons still living, but admits she has lost track of the number of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren, as many of them live a long distance away, and some she has never seen.

“I tried once to count them up and as far as I could figure there were somewhere in the 90s altogether,” she said.

When she still had seven children at home, she and her husband separated. Through hard work, Belvin, who had only finished elementary school, was able to provide for her children and eventually buy her own home, following the advice learned from her father, “Don’t go round beggin’, borrowin’ and stealin’; but work for what you get and pay for what you want.”

Judie Belvin

She worked for several years for the Nussbaum family in Bainbridge and is a self-taught seamstress, who not only made her own clothes and clothes for her children, but worked for the public, making wedding and prom dresses, as well as doing alterations and sewing other creations. She said she began sewing when she was 8 years old, doing all the work by hand, as the family had no sewing machine.

Although she has certainly seen hard times in her life, she said “the Hoover years” — or during the early days of the Great Depression — were probably the hardest.

Belvin has seen many changes in her lifetime, but one change she has noted in society is that people seemed to be more loving and have more time for each other in years past. Today, she thinks people are all so busy they don’t take time to show love and have a conversation with one another.

Belvin claims to be in good health, “except for some arthritis.” She said she has never been a sickly person.

“The only time I was ever in a hospital was about seven or eight years ago, when I was hit by a car that came out of the side street, ran off the pavement and knocked me down when I was at my mail box,” she said. “I went to the hospital to be sure nothing was broken. It bruised me up some and I had aches and pains for awhile.”

All 11 of Belvin’s children were delivered at home, either by midwives or doctors who made house calls.

Belvin is a faithful member of Campbell Street Church of God in Christ, and goes nearly every Sunday when friends pick her up and take her there.

She lives by an adage learned from the Bible: “You can shorten the days of your life, or lengthen the days of your life by the way you live your life.”

Belvin has lived her life well and claims, “I’m ecstatic about being 100.”

A birthday celebration honoring her is scheduled to be held at her church, Campbell Street Church of God in Christ, today, (Saturday, Jan. 12) where she is expected to rejoice with many members of her large family and circle of friends. There will also be a proclamation from the City of Bainbridge, proclaiming Saturday as “Judie Belvin Day” in Bainbridge.

“If it’s the Lord’s will, I’ll have a big day,” Belvin said.