WUFT News

Alachua Man Celebrates Healthy 100th Birthday

By on September 10th, 2013

One hundred years ago when Alphonso Hayes was born, the population in the U.S. was one-third of what it is today, and a gallon of gas cost less than 20 cents per gallon.

On Tuesday, Hayes celebrated his centenarian birthday. Although born in 1913, the same year as Richard Nixon, Rosa Parks and Vince Lombardi, he managed to outlive those historic figures.

Hayes said his secret to living a long and healthy life is to treat everybody right.

On Saturday, about 50 members of Hayes’ extended family and friends celebrated his birthday at the Cleather Hathcock Community Center in Alachua. The room was decorated with birthday balloons, party favors and three cakes — one dedicated to each number of his new age.

Of those 50 attendees, Elijah Strong stood out for his dedication to helping “Uncle Phonso” for the last 20 years.

Strong married into Hayes’ extended family 40 years ago. He now helps Hayes by cooking, cleaning and taking him to most of his appointments.

“He is kind and soft spoken,” Strong said. “He has his own thoughts — but slight dementia — but how much can you really fit in after 100 years?”

When Strong was asked how much Hayes affected his life, he said, “You don’t have enough paper.”

Other than some memory loss, Strong said Hayes has unbelievable health.

“He is taking two real pills and the rest are vitamins,” he said.

Hayes survived third-degree burns at age 84 and most recently a hip replacement. He healed quickly in both cases.

Although Hayes is now in a wheelchair, he had his driver’s license until last December.

On Saturday during his party, family members wheeled him in. He was wearing a dapper light blue suit with a white bow tie and polka-dot socks.

Hayes greeted guests with a smile and a long, firm handshake. He didn’t say much.

Five generations were in attendance. Being the 10th of 12 children, Hayes is the last member of his generation.

Hayes’ grandparents’ families both emigrated to Alachua from South Carolina in the early 1800s. His grandmother’s side settled in the Pine Orchard Settlement and his grandfather’s in the Mount Nebo Settlement.

One of his great nieces, Gloria Roberts from West Palm Beach, described him as a “very humble” man.

She remembers going out to Hayes’ farm over the summer and working in the tobacco fields where he also grew watermelons, peanuts, corn, potatoes, cantaloupe and pecans.

“He made you very welcome at his place and whatever he could do for you, he did,” Roberts said.

At its largest, his farm spanned 200 acres. Now it rests on about 40 acres, along with three homes that the family built over the years.

The first is a small home where he and his wife, Minnie Jane Briggs Hayes, who died last summer, began their married life that lasted more than 65 years. About 60 feet from that home, they built a second one. Twenty-four years ago, the third house was built 200 feet away.

Hayes served in the army stateside from 1942 to 1945 until he was discharged. While in the service, he was a transporter and drove officers wherever they needed to go.

After his service, he worked 20 years as a janitor at Sperry Rand, a large equipment corporation in Alachua County. Sperry Rand closed in 1974.

Hayes also served at Mt. Nebo United Methodist Church, 9975 NW 143rd St. in Alachua, for most of its existence. Pastor Ricardo George said Hayes is a good man of God.

“He’s done some wonderful things at Mt. Nebo,” George said. “Out of his own pocket, he paid for the disabled walkway and he has his name on the cornerstone of the church.”

Hayes is one of the 4,090 centennials living in Florida, according to the 2010 U.S. census.


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Newnans Lake, shown here near 7400 E. University Ave., in Gainesville, Fla.

Alachua County Receives Florida’s 36th State Forest

The 1,000-plus acres of diverse land west of Newnans Lake in Gainesville will provide bicycle and hiking trails for the public in spring 2015.


The Rerun team prepares 233 shoes to ship to Native American reservations in South Dakota later in December.

Old Shoes Find New Life Thanks to Oak Hall

“We started off as a drop off spot where people could bring old shoes when they bought a new pair, or bring back a defective pair,” Carillo said. “It grew more and more through word of mouth, and now people know to bring their shoes to us.”


A Bread of the Mighty Food Bank employee stocks the warehouse shelves with dry food donated by a local grocery.

Florida Food Banks Suffer As State Grant Runs Out

As the number of food insecure households rise, local food banks see a rapid decline in food supply from Florida’s government grant program.


Students and community members line up outside Gate 1 of the O’Connell Center.

GALLERY: Protest Held At O’Connell In Response to Police Actions

Demonstrators from the University of Florida Dream Defenders and UF Students for a Democratic Society protested for two hours outside of the O’Connell Center on Friday in response to the police actions in Ferguson and New York that lead to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.


Emergency personnel work after the fatal crash on Friday night.

Gainesville Mayor In Twitter Debate Over Northwest 8th Avenue

Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy entered a heated debate over Northwest 8th Avenue with unhappy community members on Twitter.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments