Sue Baker turns 100 today, but that won't slow her active lifestyle.
The centenarian still does her own cooking and cleaning and, according to daughter Dorothy Baker Wood, maintains a giving spirit.
“She was willing to work to help her sister go to school,” Wood said. “Not only her sister, but she also worked to help her younger brother. Back in those days, you couldn't go to high school – you had to pay. They went to boarding school for high school.”
Baker was born in Springfield on Aug. 22, 1914.
As a young adult, she moved to New York to work and help put her sister through private school by working as what Wood called a “domestic.”
In those days, domestics either lived in a home with a family and cared for the children or went in daily to clean, Wood said.
“Her older sister wanted to be a teacher, and their parents were farmers, so there was a shortage of money,” Wood said. “Once she was in New York, she basically was based in New York except for making short trips down.”
Working so much didn't benefit just Baker's siblings.
When asked what her secret was for making it to 100, Baker immediately smiled and said, “Working hard.”
Baker met her husband, Wesley, at a function while she was living in New York, Wood said.
They married in 1940 and were married until his death in 1958.
Baker returned to the South in the early 1970s and was living in her son's home in Springfield until Wood and her husband retired to Wagener and purchased a home in 1998, at which point Baker moved in with them.
Baker has four children, 18 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and 18 great-great-grandchildren.
Wood said Baker is the first person in their family to reach the age of 100.
“It really is a blessing that she's able to do what she does,” she said, adding that her mother still does her own cooking and cleaning. “When she worked in New York, she did a lot of walking. I think that had something to do with her health now.”
Some of Baker's best dishes include baked macaroni, fried chicken and a variety of pies, specifically apple, coconut and sweet potato.
“She used to fix this special breakfast,” Wood said. “It wasn't special, but it just tasted different. Just eggs, bacon and french fries.”
Baker received a birthday card from President Barack Obama to mark the occasion.
Her family is planning a gathering of about 100 people this weekend to celebrate not just her birthday, but all that she's done for them.
Wood said her mother taught her to be considerate and thoughtful of others.
“And to share what you have,” she added. “Not so much, 'Well, I have this,' but to help out the next person. Reach back, as she did, to pull the next generation forward.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.
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