Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooksville woman celebrates 100th birthday

Alice Byers, in the Spring Oaks assisted living facility in Brooksville on Wednesday, turns 100 today. Friends from Florida and Canada will help her celebrate.

MICHAEL C. WEIMAR | Special to the Times

Alice Byers, in the Spring Oaks assisted living facility in Brooksville on Wednesday, turns 100 today. Friends from Florida and Canada will help her celebrate.

BROOKSVILLE — Growing up with four brothers in New Brunswick, Canada, Alice Byers developed a penchant for male pursuits. But her father didn't want her to become a tomboy, so he forbade her to fish or hunt.

That didn't stop the athletic girl.

Her brothers smuggled her out of the house to join them at a river where the fish swarmed in schools, or in a forest rife with wildlife awaiting harvest for the dinner table, or on a mountain climb "just to see what's on the other side," Byers said.

Those endeavors served her well. Today, Byers turns 100 years old.

She attributes her longevity to "plenty of sunshine," beginning with her clandestine outings years ago.

At age 10, young Alice Dannells caught a 16-pound salmon in the St. John's River. One brother held her around the waist; another held on to him as their sister battled the lunker.

She landed the fish by herself. But what would she tell her father? The brothers, toting the trophy fish toward home, said not to worry — they'd take care of that.

As they approached the house, they told Alice to stretch her arms out. They laid the salmon across the expanse. The girl mounted the steps and said, "Pop, look what I caught for you."

"That melted him," she recalled with a smile last week.

Hunting then became allowed. "You live in Canada, you hunt," the centenarian pointed out, "especially when you're brought up with four boys. I think I was born with a gun in my hands."

Also, she said, "Those were tough years, when you had to put food on the table."

"I shot a big black bear at age 18," she recalled. It skinned out so much more meat than the family of eight could consume, the remainder had to be sold to a cannery in Maine.

With everyone passionate about hunting — and many of the men without time to train bird dogs — Alice took on the assignment.

"Pointers, a couple of red setters, bird dogs for pheasants and partridge," she noted.

She ran the novices in the fields, an apt accompaniment to her enthusiasm for hiking.

"I climbed every mountain in Canada," Byers declared. "I climbed Mount Washington in all four seasons."

Walk down the aisle

At age 18, she married Arthur Byers, a young man who attended the family church. His work as a jewelry engraver fueled her interest in art.

She took up pearl inlay work, designing and creating small tabletops. She took classes in fine arts and taught them as well.

"I loved teaching art," Byers said.

She also restored antiques, making good wherever her husband's work took him.

"We moved around a lot," she said.

Some 20 years ago, Arthur Byers was summoned to an engraving job in Tampa, and Alice has been here ever since.

Arthur Byers and their son, Fred, are both deceased.

"I've outlived four brothers, a sister, all my cousins," Byers said. "I'm the only one."

But Mrs. B, as she's known among acquaintances, has gathered many friends during various sojourns during her long life.

At least 25 of them will celebrate today when fellow residents at Spring Oaks assisted living facility, west of Brooksville, will fete her with a birthday party. Friends are coming from across Florida and Canada.

The congregation at Christ Lutheran Church in Brooksville, where she attends, commemorated her long life on Sunday.

She left her house in Brooksville in January and moved in at Spring Oaks. Why?

"Darned if I know," Byers deadpanned before adding, "I'm too independent for relatives."

Her daughter-in-law lives near Bradenton, and a niece lives in Gilchrist County in North Florida.

Byers is legally blind, has had to have surgery on her nose and needs a walker to get around. But the stalwart Canadian still "hikes" — short strolls outdoors around the facility's campus, with a caregiver at her side. And she takes part in the center's exercise class once a week.

Asked about her goals, Byers is thoughtful.

"Nothing really," she said. "To reach my 100th birthday and maybe a little bit beyond that."

Beth Gray can be reached at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Brooksville woman celebrates 100th birthday 04/05/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 5, 2009 8:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.