100 years young: ‘She’s a pistol’


Annie Blanks @DestinLogAnnie

FORT WALTON BEACH — Martha Allen Pearison sat in a rocking chair Friday afternoon on what looked like the front porch of the home in Suspension, Alabama, where she grew up.

Except Pearison wasn’t in Alabama. She was at Chester Pruitt Park sitting on a replica of the front porch that was built just for her birthday.

Friday wasn’t just any birthday, though. April 14, 2017, was Pearison’s 100th birthday. The newly minted centenarian celebrated the occasion with about 100 friends and family members in a truly epic fashion.

“I feel very good,” she said. “I’m happy to be here and thankful to the Lord for allowing me to be here, to walk and to talk and to do anything.”

Pearison’s great-granddaughter, Earnestine Woods of Montgomery, Alabama, planned the celebration. She organized the “family that prays together stays together” theme, complete with a long family dinner table and mementos of Pearison’s past, including Moon Pies (also 100 years old) and cotton stalks from Pearison’s cotton-picking days.

She also brought the entire Jefferson Davis High School Marching Volunteers from Montgomery to ring in the occasion in epic style. Pearison’s 18-year-old great- great-granddaughter, ZaCoya Pride-Robinson, was one of the band’s dancers.

“It’s touching. It’s really a blessing,” Pride-Robinson said of her great- great-grandmother’s birthday party. “A lot of people don’t live to see 100 years old. I really love my (great-  great-) grandmother, and I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Friends and family describe Pearison as a faithful, spiritual and nurturing woman, somebody whose arms and front door are open to all.

“She’s a pistol,” Woods said. “She’s just one of those people who has always opened her home to anybody. She has adopted so many people in this community.”

Pearison moved to Fort Walton Beach from Suspension in 1956.

Fort Walton Beach Mayor Dick Rynearson was on hand to proclaim Friday “Martha Allen Pearison Day”.

“To live to be 100 is just fantastic,” Rynearson said. “To be able to celebrate it with this large of a family and with this outpouring from the community is even greater.”

As for her secret to longevity, Pearison said it’s no special diet, exercise or medicine. The answer, she said, is simple.

“Trusting in God,” she said. “He takes me here and allows me to be here. It’s God.” 


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