Orange County’s most senior mother, Inez Turner
To the best of our knowledge at The Record, Inez Turner, born May 17, 1909 is the oldest living mother in Orange County. In 10 short days, she will celebrate her 105th birthday. “If I make it,” she said, smiling. “You never can tell. I’m hoping, but you never know.”
Turner has one son, Roy Ballard, 60, one granddaughter named Monica who is 34 and a great-grandson Miguel,8, who she fondly calls “Bo Peep.”
She still attends Mount Zion Baptist Church in Orange, when she is up to it, but says she hasn’t gone in about three months.
Darlene Wissing, administrator at Optimist Village, where Turner lives said every morning Turner’s son is off work, he brings her breakfast; “Isn’t that precious. He’s really good to her. She’s a fine lady.”
Ballard said he has actually cut back on bringing her pancakes and sausage for breakfast, because his mother has become diabetic and he’s had to watch the flour and sugar. “I bring her breakfast about once a month now,” he said. But he does other things she needs like buying her groceries and taking her to the doctor when she doesn’t have other transportation.
“She’s pretty self-sufficient,” he said.
According to Wissing, Turner still drove when she first moved to Optimist Village in 2006. Wissing said every time it rained, Turner was downstairs with a towel drying off her car as soon as the rain stopped, to keep it clean.
“It was hilarious, you’d see her wiping that car down.”
Wissing said she doesn’t remember exactly when Turner stopped driving. “She was way up in her 90s when she went to get an ID card and they let her take the eye test. They gave her a driver’s license for another six years.”
Ballard said she only stopped driving about two and a half years ago. “Her license was about to expire at 104.”
He said his relationship with his mother is really close. “I’m an only child, so I have to look after her.”
Her health is actually better than many in their 80s and 90s. She gets around without a walker most of the time, but is starting to use it a little more.
She still goes to local events when she has a ride.
Last year, she was awarded the prize for the oldest female at the yearly Senior Citizen Rally Days. She missed this year’s event, which was held Tuesday. She said she didn’t feel quite up to it and the friend that usually takes her was in Michigan.
This year’s prize for the oldest participant went to a young rooster of 97, since she was absent.
She has seen a few things in her lifetime though she doesn’t remember them all.
“My memory isn’t good and I can’t hear,” she said. “I’ve got hearing aids, but they don’t seem to do much good.”
Other than that, her mind is clear and she is in good health.
Wondering what she has done to live so long a woman once asked her “Do you eat a lot of vegetables?”
“No,” she told the woman, “The good Lord just hasn’t been ready for me.”
The daughter of Elzie and Lou Matlock, Turner was born in Patroon, Texas in Shelby County. She had five younger sisters, but they have already passed. She is the only one left.
“Still here,” she said.
When Turner was born, most homes, including hers did not have modern conveniences such as electricity, indoor plumbing or air conditioning.
Turner doesn’t remember when they got an indoor toilet or she first saw a lit light bulb, but she said it was exciting. They used kerosene lamps for lighting and had an outhouse when growing up. They didn’t have a car either. “My dad had a surrey,” she said, referring to a horse drawn carriage.
She came to Orange during World War II in 1943 and has lived in Orange ever since.
William Howard Taft was president of the United State of America when she was born. She has seen 18 presidents come and go. Kennedy was her favorite.
“This one’s okay too,” she said referring to Barack Obama. She hasn’t voted in several years because she no longer drives.
Gospel is her favorite type of music.
“Mrs. Turner is such a kind person. She has a smile for everybody and is always kind to everybody,” said Wission. “She never says anything harsh about anybody else. She is just a wonderful resident at Optimist Village.”
They will be having a party for her 105th birthday around 11 a.m., on Saturday, May 17 at the community room at Optimist Village according to her son. “We have it early enough so people who come from far away have time enough to get back home,” said Ballard. He said the public is welcome to attend the celebration. Turner said no gifts please.
When asked what advice she would give young mother’s just starting out with their families, she replied, “To live a good Christian life.
These days, Turner spends most of her time watching TV and visiting with friends in the lobby of her building, with an occasional nap thrown in.
The Record Newspapers honors Inez Turner as the senior mother of Orange County and all mothers on this upcoming Mother’s Day on Sunday.