Plantersville's Nola Berryman stays busy at age 98

By BOBBY PEPPER

Lee County Neighbors

PLANTERSVILLE - Nola Berryman has a simple philosophy to keeping mentally sharp, even at age 98.

"If you use your mind, you don't lose it," the Plantersville resident said. "I want to stay busy. Why sit around and do nothing?"

The last thing you'll see Berryman doing is nothing. Berryman takes pride in staying active whether through Mississippi Homemaker Volunteer club or her church, Plantersville First Baptist. She's been recognized as the oldest active member in both the club and the church.

Berryman, who spent more than 40 years as a garments worker, has pieced material together on her own time to make quilts, pillows and clothing. Though her hands are slowed by arthritis, she still keeps busy sewing.

And when the weather is good, Berryman can be seen working in her yard wearing her newspaper bonnet.

"It's light and it keeps the sun off of me," Berryman said her paper bonnet.

Providing her own

Berryman is a member of the 4Cs Mississippi Homemaker Volunteer Club, a group of women who gather monthly to work on projects. Last year Berryman was honored as the oldest member in the MHV's Northeast District.

"We meet at different times, latter part of the month most of the time," Berryman said. "They have something for us to do, different things."

Berryman used her talents to help make a breast cancer awareness quilt, which raised more than $2,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

She said arthritis prevents her from quilting, but she continues to sew. She recently made several quilt blocks.

"You can that together with something," she said. "You can make a little pillow out of it."

Berryman's ability to sew was perfected through years of garments work in factories like Reed Manufacturing and Sadler. She said she missed only two days of work due to illness.

Jesse Berryman, Nola's 74-year-old son, said his mother has been a strong person in her health and her will.

Nola was 27 when her husband of eight years died in November 1936 of kidney disease. With two young children to raise, she went to work and never remarried.

"There weren't any welfare or anything like that back in those days," said Jesse Berryman, who lives a quarter-mile from where his mother grew up in the Palestine community between Plantersville and Nettleton. "We had to move back into the house with her mother and daddy. She worked in the factory to support us.

"She asked the Lord two things when my dad passed away, to give health and give her a job. He answered both of them."

Faithful life

Berryman is faithful to her church, attending both services on Sunday and on Wednesday.

"She is always willing to give a hug and share a smile," said Karen Balint, wife of Plantersville First Baptist pastor Danny Balint. "She is a precious lady who is truly grateful for each blessing God has sent her way. She is an inspiration to me because of her faithfulness to God."

Berryman likes to keep her mind busy by reading. She visits the church library often to check out books to read at home. Even though she's read a variety of books over the years, the Bible will always be her favorite.

"I've read it through so many times," she said. "I read it daily."

Another publication she enjoys is the Baptist Record, published by the Mississippi Baptist Convention. She likes it so much, she wears it on her head while working outside.

"When I used to get permanents in my hair, I had a little cotton bonnet, but they're heavier than this," she said. "I thought about this because it's lighter and didn't ruin my permanent."

Berryman takes two sheets from the Baptist Record, uses straight pins to secure the pages and attaches two pieces of domestic material as strings to keep it on her head. Each paper bonnet lasts about six months.

"I always use the Baptist Record," she said. "It's just the right size, except I fold it back a little."

In her home across the road from Plantersville's town hall, Berryman displays many of her homemaker club creations. She wants to continue making things as long as she has her health.

"God has carried me through all of this," she said. "He's blessed me tremendously. I can't thank Him enough."

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