Former teacher, EKU graduate celebrates turning 101

Sep. 9—Hannah Gentry, a former Kit Carson schoolteacher and Sunday school teacher, celebrated turning 101 years old on September 6.

According to her daughter, Carrol Williams, she still gets up in the morning, dresses herself, and puts on her makeup. As a matter of fact, she lives pretty independently at McCready Manor, bringing jokes to celebrations and dressing as an elf for Christmas.

McCready Manor Activities Director Kelly Benton commented, "If you're going to live to be a hundred, that's what you want to be like. She's the kindest woman we know, always thinking of others. You can't find a single resident who doesn't love Hannah."

Gentry and her husband, Lee, were among the first residents of the St. Andrews Retirement Community when it opened in 1992, buying a condo there. However, they moved from there to McCready Manor in 2010, four years before he passed away from health complications.

While her husband is no longer with her in person, he is definitely a strong presence in the apartment. Various renditions of his smile throughout their life together line shelves and walls, plus a book he created for her recounting their life together sits in the living room.

Gentry's apartment is also decorated with various mementos and photos, where the 101-year-old great-great-grandmother is surrounded by images of memories of what she values most: family.

Gentry was raised on a farm with her three brothers in a Pulaski County community called Faubush by a working mother who also served as a postmistress and a farmer father. The couple had a store where the post office resided. Plus, her father also had a milk route.

The children helped out around the farm, which grew tobacco, and lived with no electricity or running water, as was typical of agricultural rural areas of the time.

When she got older, she went to college to become a teacher. She began her college journey at Sue Bennett College in London, Kentucky, where she was also a cheerleader. However, she decided to leave school to work in factories during World War II, and life laid out other plans for her.

She ended up at Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College — now known as Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) — where she met her husband, Lee Gentry, who had also transferred from Berea College.

The pair fell in love, though Hannah was four years Lee's senior, and they began building a family together, marrying in 1946 before graduating in 1948.

According to Williams, she was born as her parents were finishing school, and her sister, Ellen Rini, was born after.

"I was born here in Richmond in 1948," she said. "I was born in January. Then, they student taught and graduated from Eastern."

For a time, the couple went on to teach in a two-room school in Faubush; however, the couple went on to positions in Livingston, Marion, Lawrenceburg, Frankfort, and Richmond.

Gentry retired from teaching at Kit Carson Elementary in 1975.

While the family moved around a lot, Williams described her childhood as "ideal."

"We moved around a lot, but I didn't bother my sister and me too much. It was just natural that mother was working, or playing golf, or playing bridge. and she and Daddy were good bridge players. and church, we were always at church," Williams recollected.

In return, Gentry boasted of her daughters, "They are two pretty good girls. They're helpers; they helped early."

Lisa Murray, a long-time friend of the family, recalled that the couple had been very active in their church. Lee had taught her how to golf, and she had met Gentry through interactions in Ladies Class at church.

"I grew to love her and her advice," Murray said.

While Gentry did not provide any tips or tricks for living a long life, she expressed that she was satisfied with the life she lived, especially her 68-year marriage.

"He [Lee] was perfect," she said. "We had a good marriage. He was one of the best people I ever knew."

Now, she lives among a legacy of five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, surrounded by expressions of their love.