Elva Blair may have gotten so much out of her 100 years because of how much shes given back.Shes approaching the milestone birthday April 2, with plans to celebrate a long love affair with family in her Cotswold neighborhood. Her story is one of faith, family, accomplishment and service to others. Elvas longevity carries other eye-popping numbers: nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren; a 69-year marriage to her late husband and Glad Tidings ministry cofounder Dr. J. Allen Blair (We never argued. We talked things out.); a partnership with the ministry that lasted more than 65 years.; living in Charlotte for more than a half-century 54 years. Soft-spoken but alert, shes quick to attribute her longevity to the Lord. He knows my comings and goings. He has a purpose for me. He sees all and knows all. He knows the beginning and the end, and everything in between. The ministry still carried out by son-in-law Gary Janes and her daughter, Judy has been the essence of a life of sharing with others. Early in their marriage, the Blairs committed to giving half of their money and everything else they received to missions. Her husband became a regular at Saturday garage sales. It was surprising what we would find, Elva says. We furnished our whole house that way, but it didnt look like it came from garage sales. My husband did enjoy fixing things, but we usually bought things in good condition. Sharing came naturally for a girl from a family of six siblings, who even shared the same first initial: Earl, Elmer, Erwin, Esther, Ether and Evelyn. The latter had Elvas special longevity, living until one month before her 99th birthday. Besides being the office manager at Glad Tidings, Elva has worked as a volunteer with hospice and Crisis Pregnancy. But as one of her daughters explained, her gift of giving has manifested itself in so many other ways. My mother has been an example to me in her selflessness, always having reached out to other people, says Sherril Harrill, who with her husband, Hu, has lived with her mother since 2005. She was a faithful companion to my father, a mother who was focused on caring for her family and a friend to many including those who needed a kind word. She never walked through a nursing home without giving out hugs to folks she didnt even know because she felt they needed one. She took me on many visits to the elderly in their homes to brighten their day. She shared her rich life experiences in her 2006 autobiography, Mothers Memories: The Experiences and Memories of Elva Blair. I thought the children would enjoy having it, she says. We have three daughters and three wonderful sons-in-love. Charlotte has been a major player in her life story. She and her husband moved from St. Louis in 1959, and shes been here ever since through 10 mayors, 11 presidents, six popes and myriad changes in the city. There were no skyscrapers when we moved here, Elva says. Belk and Iveys were the tallest buildings, and there wasnt much traffic. One thing hasnt changed, she says: The people have always been friendly. Asked what shes up to these days, she jokes, Im drawing flies. Actually, shes drawing pictures as well as reading her Bible and other books; working jigsaw puzzles; and playing with her dog, Mo.
Friday, Mar. 22, 2013
Charlotte woman made it to 100 by giving back
Elva Blair poses with family members, including some great-grandchildren who recently visited from Cambodia, clockwise from bottom left: Kaiya Harrill; sister Siana; John (their father); Christa (mother); sister Aysia; and brothers Elias and Tobey. COURTESY OF THE HARRILL FAMILY
Working on Jigsaw puzzles is among Elva Blair's favorite hobbies. COURTESY OF THE HARRILL FAMILY