By JACOB LOPEZ
There are not many people who can say they’ve “seen it all,” but Ernestine Neely may indeed be one such person.
Neely is celebrating her 104th birthday on Sunday, Sept. 28. The former San Benito resident spent most of her adult life in the Resaca City.
Neely has two daughters: Mary Alice and Martha Cloys, who will be celebrating with their mother at Canterbury Court in Harlingen this weekend.
Much of that longevity, according to her daughter Mary Alice, comes from “good living.”
Neely enjoys visiting with people at Canterbury Court, playing bingo with the other residents and even doing crossword puzzles. And she still plays the piano.
In fact, she’s so talented at the piano that she played the organ at the First United Methodist Church for about 25 years, a church she still attends.
Neely was born in Plain Dealing, LA in 1910. When she was 15, her parents brought her down to the Rio Grande Valley. Her father was a farmer and bought land so he could farm. To this day, the family still owns that land.
Neely graduated from San Benito High School and attended Kidd-Key College & Conservatory of Music in Sherman, Texas and then Southwestern University in Georgetown.
After completing her education, Neely went on to become a fourth-grade teacher at Ed Downs and Dr. Cash elementary schools.
She later married S.V. Neely, who eventually became a superintendent for the San Benito school district.
Being that she’s been in the Valley for so many years, she says it’s hard to pick anything in particular that stands out as a major change she’s observed.
While many newer generations are fascinated by the technology found in our smartphones and tablet devices, Neely is far more interested in the television. It’s an invention that didn’t exist when Neely was young, and she was part of a generation that was lucky to have a radio.
She was also an active member of the Music Club in San Benito when it existed.
She’s still a member of DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and P.E.O. International, a women’s philanthropic organization.
One of Neely’s favorite things about San Benito is the walking trail. She says it’s beautiful and it’s something she — as someone who used to be an avid gardener — hopes there is more of in the future for San Benito.