Young at Heart: Lillian Washington

Young at Heart: Lillian Washington

If you lived to be 100, how do you think you would spend your days?  One centenarian in Westlake has not slowed down, still raking her own yard, helping raise her great-grandchildren and just recently, baking 135 fig pies for her church's bazaar.

"I was born January 6, 1914 in Carencro, Louisiana," said Lillian Washington.

Lillian is proud of every day of her 100 year life.  "Some people say when they get a certain age they don't want to hear it no more," she said, "I never thought about age."

Lillian grew up during a transitional time in South Louisiana's history.  Her father was a sharecropper and Lillian, along with her 12 brothers and sisters had to pitch in.  "I started working very young, taking care of little kids," she said.

At nearly six feet tall, Lillian says her height made her appear much older and she was given a lot of responsibility at a young age.  That meant she was pulled from her segregated school in the fourth grade.  "It was just colored children and Indian children," she said.

Even though Lillian grew up in a segregated south, the white children she took care of stood up for her when she was told to leave an ice cream parlor.  "The children said, 'if she can't sit down, I don't want the ice cream,'" said Lillian, "and their mother said, 'well tell the lady and give her back her ice cream,' and they both did that.  Both little boys did it," said Lillian.

Living in the country, house dances were a common social event.  That is where Lillian first saw the man she would marry.  "I said if he dances with me, he's going to be my husband," and my friends said, 'shut your mouth, you don't want to talk with no boy.'  And I said, 'not really, but I want that one.'"

His name was Adam Washington and the two began exchanging letters.  "The second letter he wrote to me, he asked me to ask my parents to get married and I didn't ask them," said Lillian, "I just answered him back and said they say yes."

Just a few weeks later, the two would marry and six children would follow - the baby coming as quite a surprise for the Washingtons.  "I was 45," she said, "old maid!"

Now at 100, Lillian still has kids in the home.  She helps care for two great-grandchildren that live with her and makes them pancakes every morning.  Her daughter, Mary Lou Goodwin said, "I'm very proud of her.  I can't hardly believe that mom is 100 years old.  I see her as being a young lady.  She's very active.  She does things that I don't think I can do."

Lillian rakes, bakes, goes to church and says if she lives one more year or 100 more, living out the Golden Rule is her mission.  "I try to treat everybody as I wish to be treated," she said, "I don't look for color, I don't look for anything else and if somebody needs help, no matter who they are, I'll help them."

Education was always very important for Lillian.  She and her husband encouraged their children to go to college and make education a priority.  Lillian did eventually go to night school when her children were older and has an eighth grade diploma.

Five of Lillian's children are still living today.  She is the mother of former Westlake mayor, the late Gerald "Wash" Washington.

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