JACKSON TWP. — Ask Beatrice Ray the secret of a long and healthy life and she will simply say, “vitamins.”
The retired dietitian and teacher celebrated her 100th birthday among five generations of her family at her 80-acre farm July 9.
Beatrice learned the importance of vitamins after attending College Misericordia in Dallas Township on a working scholarship. At the time, the women-only college was in its 10th year.
“When I was in college the idea of taking vitamins was very new,” Beatrice said. ” One sister was sent out west to learn about them (vitamins).”
Nutritional supplements combined with a healthy lifestyle allowed her to celebrate 100 years of living with her family, who are from all over the country.
“We will have 154 adults, 36 children and three babies” to celebrate Beatrice’s birthday, said Betsy Pitcavage, Beatrice’s daughter, before the party.
Love of learning
Beatrice was born to Herbert Robert Williams and Beatrice Lacey in Glen Summit in 1916. She recalled a story of how her parents first met.
“Mother was teaching in Loyalville,” she said. “There was a basket lunch. The women made lunches and put them in baskets to be auctioned off. Dad wanted to meet Mom and bought her basket.”
She said her parents were married at “Christmastime in 1907.”
Beatrice and her eight other brothers and sisters shared a home with no electricity or indoor bathroom.
Both parents were trained as teachers, which helped to instill a love of learning and a strong work ethic in Beatrice.
Her academic foundation enabled her to build a life that included a marriage to Glenn Totten Billings in August 1938.
She had four children, Walter Scott, David Glenn, Lizbeth “Betsy” June and James Guy.
In 1952, the family moved to Trevose, near Philadelphia, for better opportunities. Beatrice worked with Slater Systems Inc. Industrial Food Caterers and managed the cafeterias at various colleges and hospitals in the region.
While managing the food services for Princeton University, Beatrice met Albert Einstein.
“He may have known all about math, but he did not know a thing about flowers,” she said. “I love flowers.”
She also remembered Einstein would exercise every morning.
In 1954, Beatrice divorced her husband. She married Harold Ray in 1955. Harold had three children from a previous marriage, Besty said.
In 1962 the family moved back to Luzerne County to a farm in Chase, Jackson Township, to raise Black Angus cattle, trees and plants.
Beatrice worked for O’Connell’s Inc. Industrial Food Caterers, White Haven State School and Hospital and West Side Vocational Technical School, where she held a teaching position from which she retired in 1975.
The simple life
Today, Beatrice resides with her son, Jim, in the family home. Her son Walter lives next door and her daughter, Betsy, lives 10 minutes away in Luzerne. David resides in Beaumont, only 20 minutes away from Beatrice.
She fills her days with visits from family, caring for her small vegetable and flower garden and sitting on the front porch enjoying the sights and sounds of the farm.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.