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St. Thomas Woman Celebrates 100 Years of Life

August 7, 2005 — While it is possible that most of us can count the number of truly wonderful moments experienced on one hand, Ann-Eliza Turnbull-Thomas seems to have collected a century full of them—including birthday celebrations thrown in her honor at Walker’s by the Sea on Sunday by a loving group of family and friends.
"This is definitely a day that I will always remember," Turnbull Thomas said. "I’m 100 years old today, and it feels good…I’ve even lived up to the age of my mother…she died when she was 101. I’m very happy."
Indeed, Turnbull-Thomas was the life of the party, decked out in a sparkling pink dress and laughing with relatives about the "good old days" spent with late husband Harry Bowman in the 1940s. "We used to own a business together…it was next to Roosevelt Park. We used to sell things like soda, johnnycake, and plantains…and I used to cook souse on Saturday nights."
Turnbull-Thomas also mentioned that one of her favorite memories was making sugar cakes and other specialties for her customers to buy. "It was a different time then," the birthday girl said fondly. "Life was very much what you made it."
"She actually worked her way up from earning three dollars a month doing housework to running her own business," sister Martha Maddox added. "Life was what you made it, but Annie was always very independent and strong-willed. She could always do anything she wanted to do."
"She’s never lost that independence either," niece Judith Malone continued. "My aunt lost her sight in 1988…she had glaucoma, but she was supposed to get an operation to get her eyes fixed. But around that time, we had a terrible hurricane, and a large part of the hospital here was destroyed. She’s had to deal with being blind since she was eighty, and she’s always done everything for herself…that’s amazing to me."
"We wanted to do everything we could to show her that she’s loved," Malone added. "My aunt is one of the best individuals you can ever meet…she’s always so good to other people, and it’s important that we can do something good for her."
The oldest of 12 children, Turnbull-Thomas was born in Cane Garden Bay in Tortola in 1905 and migrated to St. Thomas in 1923 with her family.
Once on the island, Turnbull-Thomas married Bowman, and had one son, the late Donald Thomas. After Bowman died, Turnbull-Thomas moved to New York for several years, and returned back to the Virgin Islands in 1977.
Turnbull-Thomas has four remaining siblings— brother Norwell Turnbull and sisters Estelle Jones, Ethel Maddox and Esmie Stout—and three grandchildren: Neal Thomas, Myron Thomas and Jacqueline Miller.
Great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and first cousins were also present at the event.
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