ADAMS -- The town's newest centenarian is a lifelong resident who's "come full circle," living in Commercial Street's Millhouses apartment building where, so many years ago, she once worked.
Helen Blair, 100, who was born Nov. 28, 1912, can tell of an Adams a dwindling number know firsthand, from the Great Depression to the historic local work performed by Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
Blair, a mother of one and a great-grandmother of six, grew up riding the town's trolleys with her father (who worked as an operator for years) and later worked in its mills. She's been a member of Park Street's First Congregational Church for more than 60 years, is a "bridge-a-holic" and was formerly "very active with [Berkshire Lodge of Masons in Adams]."
In a message to the Transcript relayed by her son-in-law Wayne and her daughter-in-law Barbara, Blair noted changes the town has undergone during her lifetime, with its transition from a mill economy and the disappearance of trolley transportation among them.
In doing so, she also offered advice to Adams' youth that would make the town's leadership -- who've set the goal of promoting local recreation -- proud: Enjoy the outdoors.
"She's very much a nature lover. ... Every day she wakes and sees a beautiful thing [like] Mount Greylock just outside her window," Wayne Blair said. "When she was younger, she was very athletic and loved to ice skate."
To this day, Wayne enjoys taking his mother-in-law for summer strolls along the Cheshire Lake section of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. He said Blair appears youthful yet at a century old, as fellow trail users sometimes assume them spouses.
"I say ‘you just ruined my day and made her's,' " Wayne said.
What has been Blair's secret to longevity? According to Wayne, it's her admirable approach to life.
"She's never worried and is always thankful for what she has," he said of his mother-in-law. "... The woman is just thankful for what she has and never cared about material things."
Blair married her third and last husband, Wayne's father, Lionel A. Blair, who died in 2004, when both were 73. Wayne called the two "a whirlwind of activity," who traveled the U.S. and Germany together.
Blair's other great loves include good conversation and jokes, shopping, the Red Sox and the Patriots, playing bridge with clubs in Pittsfield and Williamstown, and family holidays. She's spending this holiday season in Maryland with family.
"I really think appreciating what she has and keeping friends and hobbies have kept her sharp," Wayne said. "That's the secret."
To reach Phil Demers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.