100-year-old woman is a model of consistency

Clara Lopez of Exeter walked 2 miles every day until she was 97 years old, dedicated her life to her family


EXETER – It seems that the secret to long life is consistency, and Exeter’s newest centenarian is a walking model of consistency. Clara Lopez celebrated her 100th on Dec. 28, 2017 surrounded by four generations of family members at the Exeter Senior Center. Still beautifully decorated for Christmas, Clara said she had been healthy most of her life.

Clara looks over her birthday cake before the family digs in on Thursday, Dec. 28. Photo by Reggie Ellis.

Clara looks over her birthday cake before the family digs in on Thursday, Dec. 28. Photo by Reggie Ellis.

“I am most thankful for the Lord, as He has blessed me with many years,” Clara said. “At this point in my life, I am thankful for everything.”

Clara was born on Dec. 28, 1917 in Santa Ana, Calif. She married her husband Samuel V. Lopez as a teenager and moved to Exeter in 1932. Samuel built them a small home in town where Clara continues to live 85 years later. They raised seven children in the home, including four boys and three girls. Their sons are Julian Lopez, Samuel Lopez, Jr., Frank Lopez, and Martin Lopez, Sr. Their daughters are Ofelia Farias and Virginia DeLanda. They had another daughter, Mary De La Cruz, who passed away several years ago. Clara’s husband died in 1977.

Ofelia said her mother used to join her father for work in the fields in addition to raising seven children. She said Clara loved her rose garden, which she planted when the house was built and is still there today, and was involved in many community organizations. She was a dedicated member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where she continues to be part of the women’s guild, and always made tamales for the Jamaica celebrations at its sister church, St. Anthony’s in Farmersville. Despite her busy schedule, Ofelia said her mother made time for each of her children and never missed an opportunity to set a good example that hard work pays off.

“She was a great mother and I couldn’t have done anything without her,” Ofelia said.

Frances Lopez said her mother-in-law has been a longtime member of the Pink Ladies as part of the Exeter Community Service Guild, and as a young woman volunteered as a candy striper at Memorial Hospital at Exeter, where she cared for elderly patients and helped the nurses. Frances said Clara walked two miles around Exeter every day until she fell and broke her hip three years ago but still goes for brief daily walks with the help of walker.

“She is a hardworking woman who loves her family,” Frances said of Clara. “I think that and her faith in God are what her long life can be attributed to.”

Clara spent the late morning at the Senior Center smiling through hundreds of photos and enjoying a slice of cake with her six surviving children, and many of her 17 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren. Clara said the town has changed so much since she moved here 85 years ago, especially the number of homes.

“There are so many homes here now,” Clara said. “I used to be able to walk around the whole city, but now there are so many homes.”

Happy birthday to a woman whose walked through a century of change yet hasn’t allowed time to change her beliefs and values.

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