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Ruth Chatman Hammett, Gladys Ware Butler and Bernice Grimes Underwood.

Good lives

3 lifelong friends celebrate their 100th birthdays together

June 22, 2016

Three women, best friends for almost a century, have celebrated their 100th birthdays together at a church in Washington D.C. Bernice Grimes Underwood, Gladys Ware Butler and Ruth Chatman Hammett all turn 100 in June or July, and had hoped to celebrate the special occasion with a fourth close friend, Leona Barnes. She died in May, just two months short of her birthday.

All the women have regularly attended the Zion Baptist Church in Northwest Washington since childhood. “This was so exciting and joyful,” Underwood said of the celebrations, that were attended by a couple of hundred people.

When they were born in 1916, women did not have the right to vote, and none of them thought they would ever live to see a woman or a black person become president. They all voted for Barack Obama, and all plan to vote for Hillary Clinton in November.

A 30-minute video screened at the celebrations showed the women talking about their lives and offering their hard-won wisdom. Butler and Barnes said their biggest regret was not furthering their educations. Underwood, who still loves to dance, said she was without regrets: “I’m just happy; I’ve had a good life.”

The friends speak to one another on the phone almost daily, mourned the deaths of their husbands and elderly children together, and feel that each other’s children are their own. As for their longevity? They credit it to prayer and “the grace of God.”

Watch Underwood, Butler and Hammett, together with their friend Leona Barnes:

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Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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