Hubbard woman turns 109, recalls life

By Graig Graziosi


Today, Nellie Beach is thankful to see her 109th birthday.

Born in 1908 in Yorkshire, England, Beach arrived at Ellis Island in New York with her parents when she was 14, and moved to Youngstown.

Now, she lives at The Countryside at Elmwood assisted-living apartments, celebrating a long life with her friends and family at her side.

Though she moved into the apartments less than two years ago, Beach already has made friends, many of whom joined her in the facility’s group dining area for tea and birthday cake to celebrate her birthday.

Beach worked most of her life, for a time as a winder at a General Electric Mazda Lamp factory, then later as a welder and professional maid. According to her family, Beach’s mother agreed to fudge her birth certificate when she was 14 to make it seem as though she were 16, allowing her to start working two years earlier than allowed by law.

Beach had a brother and a sister, Jack and Bessy Meadows. She was extremely close with her siblings, and her brother taught her to weld.

During World War II, Beach and her brother worked as underwater welders, where they maintained barges carrying supplies from the U.S. to Europe, as well as tanks used in the war effort.

After the war, Beach began working as a professional maid in the employ of a woman she called “Mrs. Alfred.” She continued working for her the next 24 years.

Outside of work, Beach had a robust family, many who are still local and visit her regularly.

She met her husband, Everette Beach, on a blind date – which was also the first date she had ever been on – when she was 19. They married when she was 21, and together they had five children.

Her daughters, Jeanette Perry and Gerry Hallapy, helped throw the birthday party, greeting guests and ensuring everyone was treated to cake and tea.

As part of the party’s “Beauty and the Beast” theme, Beach’s great-granddaughter, Megan Kriebel – who is also the activities coordinator for the assisted-living facility – flitted from table to table in a yellow gown, tending to guests and talking about her great-grandmother.

Beach has long said her secret to a long life was two bananas and a cup of tea every day and practicing her Christian faith.

On her 109th birthday, she gave a similar – albeit abbreviated – piece of advice to those seeking longevity.

“You need to sleep, and you need to eat,” she said.

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