Virginia woman celebrates her 100th birthday: ‘I feel pretty good’

KING GEORGE COUNTY, Va. -- CBS 6 was on hand for a special birthday occasion Friday as a King George County woman celebrated her 100th birthday.

"I feel pretty good,” said the birthday girl, Lillie Payne.

“She’s the sweetest, one of the sweetest persons on earth,” said Doris Payne Jackson, one of Payne’s nieces. “She just loves people. You know, she always took care of everybody and God has really blessed her.”

Payne was born in Montross, Va. in Westmoreland County and spent most of her life there. Her family said that she spent most of her working years as a cook at Stratford Hall.

According to Payne, her family actually has a long history at the Hall, which is the birthplace of Robert E. Lee, possibly going back as far as 1782. 

The family said Payne was one of 15 children of Thomas and Laura Payne (two did not survive into adulthood). Payne herself had two children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. One of the grandchildren is her only remaining direct descendant.

Her family said she took care of many of them as they grew up and in her older age loves singing, especially “This Little Light of Mine”, and talking about her family.

“I just find that remarkable that someone could live to be this age and just be pain-free and be a happy spirit,” said Rilla Gaither, another niece. “But, that’s her nature, that’s always been her nature. So, it just means a lot to us."

When asked what she attributed her longevity to, Payne gave a simple answer.

"I work. I walk to school. Come back home, cut wood,” said Payne.

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