“Be kind to one another and respect your parents.” That is the motto that Theda Hayes, a resident of St. John’s Home, has lived by her entire life – 102 years to be exact. “I never think of it as 102,” Theda laughs. “I just think of it as over 100.” She justifies her longevity to kind words and good friends.
Theda was born and raised on a country farm in Marion, New York. Her mother died when Theda was four years old, leaving her father and oldest sister to raise her and her siblings. Theda attended Marion High School and continued her education at the Culver Road Academy School of Beauty, where she began her career as a beautician. Theda eventually went on to open her own beauty shop in Williamson, New York. “When I was a hairdresser, the popular style was the French twist,” Theda says.
Working as a beautician, Theda made a great deal of friends, many of whom she still keeps in contact with today. “I appreciated my job, but more than anything I appreciated all the friends that I made.” Shortly after opening her salon, Theda married her husband and the couple bought a farmhouse on Ridge Chapel Road. “We had horses, cows, and chickens,” Theda recalls. Later in life, Theda became very active with the West Webster Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary.
Theda moved to St. John’s Home a few years ago and has recently celebrated her 102 birthday. “The staff is like family to me. And I think they feel the same way with me – that I’m part of the big family,” Theda says. One of Theda’s daily routines is making her bed and helping staff in any way she can. “Theda inspires me,” states Shatora Woods, LPN. “At 102 years old, she still wants to do so much for herself. She says that making her own bed keeps her going.”
As an active member of the Green Thumb Society, Theda enjoys working with plants and taking care of the flowers in her room. She is very close to her daughter, Elizabeth, and looks forward to spending time with her grandchildren. “My daughter learned to be independent by watching out for herself. Later in life, I found her doing a lot of things that I used to teach her,” Theda explains. Living by the golden rule has always been at the forefront of Theda’s life and continues to be an obvious component to her daily routine. “Everyone here has been very good to me. I have no complaints.”