‘Just have a good life’

July 1, 2018 GMT

La PORTE - Longtime La Portean Willa Smith celebrated a century plus of life as the Brentwood resident turned 104 years old on June 25.

Originally born in London, Ontario, Willa moved to America with her family when she was only 5 years old, relocating to Allen Park, Michigan, after her father got a job working for Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company in Detroit.

“I’m a citizen of this great country,” she made sure to point out with a laugh, despite her Canadian birthplace.

After working for the King of Motor City, Willa said her father became a glazer specifically for church windows. To this day, she still examines church windows whenever she sees them, no doubt letting her thoughts drift to the memory of her father.

“I like La Porte, it’s a nice town,” Willa said. “They’re very friendly. There is a lot going in La Porte.”

While not a native, Willa’s lived in La Porte longer than many living Maple City natives, having moved here in 1972 from Allen Park. She stated her husband had some interest in people in the La Porte area, but also moved here because of her son previously relocated to La Porte.

Willa was quick to beam on her surviving son, a chief in the U.S. Navy, along with her expressing pride over her granddaughter, who she stated is a State Representative in the state of Colorado.

Willa may have lived 104 years, but she wasn’t idle during this time. Willa has worked for the Detroit Metropolitan Airport where she was in charge of fueling the planes. Later, she worked for, and retired from, the Michigan Employment Security Commission.

Throughout her life, Willa said she’s met a lot of good people and made many good friends. She still keeps in touch with many.

As to what’s important in life?

“I would say, we built our life around the church. We still have friends from there for many, many years. I think that was a real good reason to come to the area because we met an awful lot of people,” Willa said, adding she was a member of the Methodist Church.

For anyone wishing for the secret to living a long life, as Willa has been blessed to live, she offered up a little advice.

“Just live a good life,” she said.

“Of course, I didn’t drink or smoke. I think that helped,” she added with a laugh.