Aubrey Williams says the secret to a long life is just eating and sleeping. He should know. He turned 103 on Tuesday.
The centenarian was surrounded by family and friends at a birthday party held at his current residence, Raintree Manor.
Jeanette Hahn, his niece by marriage, said, “I think the secret is he never had children. And, he never worries about anything.”
Williams himself may not have a secret other than eating and sleeping but he does know what he considers the most important thing a person can do – live a Christian life.
“I have the hope of eternal life. My time on earth is nothing compared to the time I will have in heaven. I’ll be greater in heaven than I am now. I’ll be with God and Jesus and all the other folks who have gone before me,” said Williams.
Williams and his three brothers, Greenie, William and Harley, grew up near Dibrell on a farm owned by their parents, Johnie and Josie. He attended Oak Grove Elementary. Williams said the Great Depression dried up more than money.
“We had a drought through the depression. A drought as well as no money. We didn’t make crops. But, Dad made arrangements to keep us from starving to death,” said Williams.
Williams served in the United States Army for eight months in 1942. He worked in downtown McMinnville at the Brown Hotel for over 40 years.
“I did everything at the hotel that you could think of. I hung wallpaper, did repair work and worked behind the counter. I was there when they closed and I was almost there when they opened. I think it had been open about six years when I started there,” said Williams.
Williams said during his days at the hotel, McMinnville was a booming town for traveling salesmen.
“We had over 70 rooms. We would just about stay booked every weekday. The salesmen would come in on Monday and go home on Friday night. The salesmen would come in, many from different states, and work the town and leave on the weekends. We were not as busy on the weekends. I loved working there. I liked taking care of people who needed rooms,” said Williams.
Williams did not have to wait for someone famous to book a hotel room. He worked with a budding star every day.
“Dottie West worked in the café at the hotel. She was working her way through high school. I believe later she moved to Cookeville and worked at another restaurant and started working her way through college. I had no idea she would be a famous singer one day,” said Williams.
Williams did not marry until he was 69 years. His wife, Rose, passed away in 2007 after 25 years of marriage.
He has also outlived his brothers and many other family members.
Williams has two living nieces, Elaine Alexander of Brentwood, and Etta Williams of Franklin. Both attended his birthday party on Tuesday.
Alexander said she remembers when she was 14 and spent the summer on the farm in Dibrell with her grandmother and her uncle Aubrey.
“The summer of 1954 was very special to me. Spending time with family like that is something I wish a lot of young people had an opportunity to do. Just taking time to spend with older people in the family and being with nature. I was a city girl from Nashville but I swam in a creek with leeches and enjoyed it so much,” said Alexander.