WINDHAM — A flowering cherry tree soon will take root outside Warde Health Center in honor of Mary Crawford.
The planting of a tree recognizes residents who make their 100th birthday.
Crawford's will be among 10 such trees on the property off Searles Road.
This Saturday, the Lawrence native, a 60-year resident of North Andover, turns 100. Friends and family will gather Friday for a birthday celebration.
"I don't worry," Crawford said yesterday, reflecting on how she has lived a century. "I've had problems, but I don't worry about them. I always gave my problems to the good Lord and knew he would take care of them, and he did. I live my life for God."
Crawford looks a good 25 years younger than her 100 years.
"I feel just wonderful," she said. "I might well be 39 at times."
At 99, approaching 100, some days aren't so good, she admits.
"I have my days when I feel 200, but not many," Crawford said.
She came from "a long lived family," she said. She had three brothers and two sisters, all deceased. All reached 86 years, four lived into their 90s.
Four of her siblings were in religious orders: two Augustinian priests, a Xaverian brother and a Notre Dame nun.
She survived her husband of 47 years, William V. Crawford.
They had no children, but kids are a big part of her life. She taught 37 years in public schools in Lawrence, Methuen and Wilmington.
"I started in the lower grades and taught all the way to junior high," she said.
Her most important lesson to pupils?
"To be fair and honest, don't be afraid to tell the truth," Crawford said. "You'll come out on the better end. If you're honest, you will have a happy life."
There was something else she wanted students to know.
"No one is perfect," she said. "You don't have to be perfect."
Crawford loved to travel with her husband. They saw most of the United States, Canada and Europe, except Russia.
Ireland was special.
"I felt as if I had come home. That was my father's homeland," Crawford said. "I loved it. I felt at home when I stepped on land,
She has seen many changes in this old world,
"Those things don't affect me much," Crawford said. "I take whatever comes."
Her favorite president?
"Oh, John Kennedy," she said. "I liked his philosophy. He was a good man."
Her days are lived simply now.
"I like my morning to myself. I visit the chapel and the library to read the newspapers — The (Eagle-)Tribune, the Globe and the Pilot," she said.
There is exercise.
"I walk as much as I can," Crawford said.
She is a favorite of the staff at Warde.
"The staff has taken a great fondness to Mary," social worker Nikki Jobin said.
"I love people," Crawford said.
"I think Mary's remarkable. I think she's an exception," administrator Susan Denopoulos said. "I think some of it is what she told you. She takes life as it comes, people as they are and gives the rest to God. She doesn't criticize, she's non-judgmental. She has a great laugh and she laughs at herself."
Crawford said she has one wish for her second hundred years. "I want to be up in Heaven with my God and my family," she said.
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