Lifelong Rogue Valley resident Sadie Williams is a quiet, no-fuss kind of gal, a testament to family values, hard work and simplicity. Which probably helps to explain why she will turn 100 years old this week.
Still living independently in Ashland and only recently opting to stop driving after 80-plus, accident-free years behind the wheel, Williams was born on July 19, 1912, on a ranch just outside Phoenix.
Despite reaching the coveted century mark, she's not expecting much pomp and circumstance to commemorate the day, but simply a meal with family and some good music.
"It's just another day," says Williams of her birthday, with a slight chuckle. "Really, I'm grateful that I have been able to live that long in good health."
Almost as soon as Williams eased into her 90s, she began hearing a question that would seem a typical thing to ask.
"I usually get asked, 'How old are you?' " says Williams. "Then they'll usually say, 'Well how did you get that old?' "
Born into a pioneer family that settled in the Trail Creek area over a half-century before her birth, Williams traces her roots back to the first Trail postmaster, W.G. Knighten.
Her father was a logger, and her mother was a stay-at-home mom before it had a label or was the unexpected thing to do.
As a young girl, Williams attended Wagner Creek School, which in those days meant attending only through the eighth grade, learning basic reading and writing, using outdoor plumbing and juggling schoolwork and farm chores.
"It was before you did high school," she says. "I did not have the privilege of higher education, but I have found that you can educate yourself if you put yourself into it and apply yourself."
At age 16, she met her future husband at Sunday school while he was staying at his sister's farm near her family's Phoenix property. Clarence "C.C." Williams, former Ashland sheriff, married his bride just as she became an adult.
In a century that saw unimaginable transportation advancements and families becoming increasingly mobile, Sadie gives new meaning to the phrase "home body." In all her 100 years on the planet, she has never lived farther than 10 miles away from the Phoenix house where she was born.
"I just never could think of a better place to live, really, than in the Rogue Valley," she explains.
One of Sadie's four children, Ashland resident Gennell Williams, says her parents always worked hard and her mother always supported her father's business endeavors.
"He was an idea guy," says the daughter. "Whether it was a dairy farm or the cemetery he started, she was the bookkeeper, and she worked for all the businesses."
The younger Williams says her mother has always been a hard worker who never complained. After nearly 10 decades of life, she opted, on her own — despite never having had an accident — not to renew her license on her 98th birthday.
"She was still a good driver, so she's really grieving the loss of driving," says the daughter.
"Honestly, I can't imagine driving until I'm 98," she adds. "And I don't think I'll be in nearly as good of shape as her if I live as long as she has. She doesn't need a cane or a walker."
Quips the daughter: "Mom says the secret is she just keeps breathing."
While kids, grandkids and extended family insist a celebration is in order, Sadie wants minimal fuss for her big day.
"We'll have dinner with family on Thursday, and then we're going to the band concert in Lithia Park," says her daughter.
"She's always loved the city band. She goes every Thursday night, and we all grew up going from as early as we could remember. I know I started going before I could even walk."
The guest of honor says the simplicity of a family meal and simple concert is in keeping with her life. Her rewards, says Williams, are good health and a good family.
"I've always had enough of everything that I have needed, and I don't know how I would have bettered my life even if I'd had a lot of money or anything else," she says.
"Some people will complain no matter what they have. I just don't know why so many people are always complaining. Life is just too good to be a complainer."