Helen Keys celebrates 100th birthday with a parade


With Lisa Tucker at her side, Cornerstone Village South resident Helen Keys settles into her chair and prepares for a parade held in honor of her 100th birthday. A convoy of well-wishers made their way past Keys last Thursday in honor of her milestone birthday PHOTOS BY DAVE ONGIE

By Dave Ongie, News Editor

Helen Keys isn’t much for surprises, but she allowed for one last Thursday. After all, you only turn 100 once.

Keys took a seat in the shade in front of Cornerstone Village South as a procession of vehicles drove by to wish her a happy birthday. Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock led the way, followed by family members and friends from Boones Creek Covenant Brethren Fellowship, where she has been an active member.

Friends and family were able to wish Keys a happy birthday during the event.

Keys was born and raised in the Green Mountain, North Carolina, area. Keys is the oldest of four children and started working in a canning factory at the age of 15. After moving to Johnson City, Keys attended Steed College at night after working days in a sewing factory.

After marrying her husband Dana, who was in the military, Keys got the chance to live in a lot of places, and fondly recalls the first time she got to visit New York City.

“I’ve been from coast to coast,” she said. “I’ve been up one road and down the other.”

Keys has been back in Johnson City for the last 30 years and has put down roots. In addition to being active in her church, she enjoys watching Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Atlanta Braves baseball.

When asked for words of wisdom, Keys only had one thing to say: “I just say God has been good to me, and that’s it.”


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